Demerol Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

Are You Addicted to Demerol?

Demerol is a powerful prescription painkiller that can become highly addictive. When taken as prescribed and under the supervision of a doctor, Demerol is safe for most people. However, long-term abuse can lead to tolerance and the need for more and more of the drug to get the same results.

Physical dependence occurs when people have abused Demerol for so long that they reach a state of being unable to reduce their usage or quit. When physical dependence occurs, you may go through difficult withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to stop using Demerol. Unfortunately, Demerol addiction leads to people taking dangerous risks to get the drugs they need.

Demerol Addiction Treatment

What Is Demerol, and Why Is It Prescribed?

Demerol is a strong opioid painkiller prescribed for severe pain or when other pain-relief medications are ineffective. Meperidine is the generic name for Demerol, and it is a type of analgesic pain reliever.

This medication is not meant to be taken long-term. Demerol acts on the central nervous system to bring pain under control. Meperidine is available in tablet, syrup, and solution form.

Although Demerol is highly beneficial for reducing acute pain, you should only take this medication as directed, or it could become habit-forming. Never take more than prescribed or take it in other ways.

Demerol is never to be crushed and snorted or injected. This drug should be taken with plenty of water to avoid opioid-induced constipation, which affects up to 60% of people taking Demerol, even if they take it as directed.

Signs of Demerol Overdose

Taking too much Demerol can lead to overdose and may be fatal. The following are some of the signs of Demerol overdose. If you routinely exhibit these symptoms, you need to seek Demerol addiction treatment:

• Extreme dizziness
• Marked drowsiness
• Labored breathing
• Extreme weakness
• Slowed heart rate
• Coldness and clamminess
• Seizures

If Demerol overdose occurs, get to the emergency room immediately. The drug of choice for treating an overdose is naloxone. This drug can help counteract the increased symptoms above and stop them from progressing.

Signs You Have an Addiction to Demerol

Demerol addiction can happen to anyone, even if you take this drug as directed and under the supervision of a doctor. In 2019 alone, 50,000 people died of opioid overdose.

Around 21% to 29% of people who were prescribed to opioids end up misusing them. Demerol abuse is on the rise. If you or a loved one exhibit the following signs of Demerol addiction, it is important to get help:

• Isolating themselves from friends and loved ones to hide their drug use
• Faking or inflicting wounds upon themselves so that they can get more Demerol
• Saying that they lost their prescriptions because they run out of medication too early
• Spending an excessive amount of money attempting to get Demerol, including stealing money or drugs
• Continuing to use Demerol despite knowing it is causing serious problems
• Neglecting your responsibilities while searching for or using the drug

If any of the above apply to you, do not be ashamed. Addiction to opioids is highly powerful. Even if you try to quit and want to stop using, the drug’s hold on your body may make it very difficult.

Despite the power of this drug, there is help available. You should never attempt to quit a drug cold turkey without the advice and observance of your doctor. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even deadly.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms From Stopping Demerol Cold Turkey

After seeing what this addiction is doing to your life, you probably want to quit. If you have been misusing Demerol for some time, your body “needs” this drug and will work against your quitting. Suddenly stopping opioids like Demerol can result in the following withdrawal symptoms, even if you have been taking this drug as directed by your doctor:

• Agitation
• Increased anxiety
• Aching muscles
• Profuse sweating
• Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
• Nasal drip
• Yawning

The above withdrawal symptoms begin to occur soon after a person ceases taking Demerol or other opioids. After 12 hours of stopping the drug, the following uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will begin to occur. While highly stressful, these are not life-threatening:

• Diarrhea
• Goosebumps and chills
• Dilated pupils
• Severe abdominal cramping
• Nausea and vomiting

Some complications occur as a result of the above withdrawal symptoms. Aspiration can occur when a person is vomiting and breathes in the contents of the vomit, which can result in developing lung infections or even death.

With severe diarrhea and vomiting can come dehydration. In its most severe forms, dehydration can be deadly.

One of the biggest dangers regarding withdrawal symptoms is relapse. Because the withdrawal symptoms can be so uncomfortable, many people quitting cold turkey end up relapsing and using again to ease their symptoms.

Do Not Be Ashamed to Seek Treatment

There is no shame in admitting that you are addicted to Demerol or other opioids. Help is available for your addiction, and you should not fight it alone.

Treatment Options for Addiction to Demerol

If you have discovered you are addicted to Demerol, it is not a sign of weakness. Demerol is a powerful drug that is very much like morphine. This painkiller becomes highly addictive, even if you are careful and only use it as prescribed.

Getting help may seem intimidating, but all it takes is one first step. The following are some of the approaches to treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all option. Most people will need a combination of these treatments to help them release the hold of addiction on their lives.

Drug Detox

The detox process is difficult for most people, and the process can vary depending on the length of time your loved one has been abusing Demerol. Stopping cold turkey can be dangerous because of the stressful withdrawal process. Thankfully, there is a better way to get this drug out of your system.

For people addicted to Demerol, medication-assisted detoxification is wise. Providing medication to an addict helps control the withdrawal symptoms, making the process less stressful on your body. The following are some of the medications used for detoxification.


Administering clonidine hydrochloride helps rapidly decrease the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid detoxification. This drug is an alpha-adrenergic agonist, allowing for full detoxification in 14 days or less.


Naltrexone can also be used to curb withdrawal symptoms and make them more manageable. This drug is typically given in an extended-release form for the most effective treatment.


Buprenorphine is another medication option that will help you overcome the stressful withdrawal symptoms of detoxing from long-term Demerol use. Studies have shown that those who were given buprenorphine were more likely to stay with the detox treatment process until completion.

Behavioral Therapy

As a part of medication-assisted detoxification, there is behavior therapy. Behavioral therapy seeks to address the reasons people become addicted and continue to abuse a drug, even prescription medications. There are multiple modalities of treatment available, depending on the individual. You may receive one or more of the following treatment options.

Contingency Management Therapy

Contingency management therapy is an essential option for those addicted to opioids like Demerol. With contingency management therapy, addicts receive incentives or rewards for meeting their benchmarks in treatment. This therapy is based on operant conditioning and is highly successful for many people.

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy seeks to address and change the behaviors associated with drug misuse. The ultimate goal of this therapy approach is to prevent relapse. Based on operant conditioning, this form of therapy works well with other modalities of treatment including skills training to help individuals overcome the hold that drug misuse has on their lives.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is also an integrative method of helping people overcome opioid misuse. This type of therapy is meant to foster your inner desire to want change. Motivational interviewing also melds well with other treatment approaches. You may be given skill-building help and other treatments in addition to motivational interviewing.

Family-involved Treatment

Family involvement is essential for helping people overcome addiction. You are going to need people to cheer on your success as you go through treatment. Family therapy is used to ensure the addict has support during and after treatment. Family therapy helps restructure the family environment and ensure you will have a safe place to go after reaching your goals.

What Happens After Detox?

After you detox from Demerol, you will have options for further treatment. The treatment modalities above are all used with both inpatient and outpatient therapy, depending on your needs.

Inpatient Treatment Options

Inpatient care typically involves a residential stay of 28 days. Many inpatient treatment programs first involve a medical detox to get the drugs out of your system. You need the drugs out of your system completely to respond to treatment appropriately.

During your stay, you will take part in individual and group therapy. Your family may also come in for some sessions. Inpatient therapy offers the most individualized support to help you overcome your addiction to Demerol.

Outpatient Treatment Options

Outpatient treatment options are highly beneficial, especially for those who are new to treatment or have obligations that prevent them from participating in inpatient options.

These options are typically best utilized for aftercare though they can be helpful for those who only have a mild addiction and a strong support system at home. The following are some of the options for outpatient drug misuse therapy.

Partial hospitalization

Partial hospitalization programs, or PHPs, provide day treatment to residents. You would come to the program seven days a week for up to five hours a day for treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

IOPs are highly similar to PHPs, but they are held during the evenings. Clients come to the program at night for three to five days a week.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is most effective after medical detox. Clients come for individual therapy appointments a few times a week. This rehab approach is traditional and is often combined with other types of therapies, including weekly group sessions.

No matter which treatment options you choose, getting professional help is wise. Overcoming a powerful opioid addiction takes time and does not happen overnight.

For those who have been misusing Demerol for a long time, inpatient options are most effective. Here, you will have access to a wide array of treatment approaches and receive support from fellow addicts. These people have the insight to help you better understand yourself and your addiction.

You Do Not Have to Stop Taking Demerol Alone

Because of its powerful nature, many people become addicted to Demerol each year. People of all ages and walks of life succumb to addiction. If you have an addiction to Demerol, there is help available. You do not have to face your addiction alone.

There are multiple options for addiction treatment. You have access to both residential and outpatient treatment options, depending on the severity of your addiction. Professional intervention can help loosen the bonds of addiction and give you freedom. While the recovery journey is never easy, it is safer and more effective when you seek professional help. Do not be ashamed to reach out for the addiction treatment you so desperately need.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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