Demerol Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox

Your Guide to Demerol Withdrawal

Demerol is a type of pain medication used to treat certain types of pain. Doctors usually prescribe it to those suffering from moderate or severe pain. It is available as an oral medication that you take by mouth, but many people use a form that they inject into their veins. This allows them to enjoy the benefits of the drug quickly. If you recently stopped using Demerol or if you plan to stop using it soon, you should be aware of the withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are quite severe, but you can get the help you need through a treatment facility.

What Is Demerol?

Doctors prescribe Demerol to people in the hospital who have severe injuries and a lot of pain. Medical professionals will monitor you in the hospital to make sure you get the prescribed dose and do not take too much. If you have pain that you need to control at home, your doctor may prescribe this medication for you. Demerol is similar to morphine and is a member of the opioid family, which means that you can become addicted to it. Misusing or abusing Demerol can increase your risk of having an overdose or even dying.

Effects of Demerol

Though the main reason our clients use Demerol is to control their pain, the medication has certain side effects that can lead you to abuse or misuse the drug. Demerol both changes the way your brain feels and responds to pain. Using Demerol may relieve so much of your pain that you feel like you can do anything. Some people also like that Demerol has a side effect that makes them feel lightheaded.

When you engage in some of your favorite activities after taking time off following surgery, you risk feeling more pain when your last dose wears off. This can lead you to take another dose before you should or to take a larger dose, which can lead to overdose or addiction.

Demerol Withdrawal

Side Effects

Using Demerol can lead to a condition called serotonin syndrome. When your body feels pain, your nerves produce a lot of serotonin to help you cope with that pain. Using Demerol or another opioid causes your body to produce more serotonin before the medication begins working. It can also occur if you take two different medications at the same time without consulting a doctor first.

Serotonin syndrome can cause restlessness and a feeling as though you cannot sit still. Users may also run a low fever and have convulsions as well as experience hallucinations and stomach cramps. You may experience these side effects without suffering from serotonin syndrome because they are also side effects of Demerol use.

Addiction vs. Withdrawal

You should keep in mind that Demerol addiction and withdrawal are not the same things. You can experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the medication after an injury that requires a stay in the hospital. While your addiction occurs when you cannot live without the drug, withdrawal occurs when you stop taking it.

Some of the signs of an addiction to Demerol include nausea and vomiting, along with feeling tired and falling asleep in the middle of the day. Our clients also experience symptoms of withdrawal such as increased sweating and difficulty sleeping. You may have an unusual itching sensation that you cannot get rid of too.

The behavioral signs of Demerol addiction refer to changes in the way you act. Addicts may neglect some of the things they need to do, like cleaning their homes or picking up their kids from school. Their interests also change, and they find that the things they enjoyed doing in the past no longer bring them joy. These behavioral changes can impact the people you love and disrupt the relationships you have with them.

Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Your relationships can also suffer when your loved ones see you going through the withdrawal process. Doctors write Demerol and other opioid prescriptions for more than 200 million clients every year. While some of those users have no problems taking their medications, others develop addictions to them.

Even if you use the drug as directed, you may find that you experience one or more withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. The main reason you experience those symptoms is that your brain grew reliant on the drug. When you stop taking it, your brain needs to learn how to adjust to living without it and figure out how to control your pain without medication.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Demerol withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. The symptoms you notice will depend on how often you use the drug and the size of your dose. Withdrawal symptoms usually start within 24 hours of discontinuing your use of Demerol.

You will often experience some smaller symptoms on the first day, such as restlessness and anxious thoughts. This can make you want to get up and take a walk around the block or leave you trying to find other ways to occupy your time. Some clients have muscle aches and pains that they cannot control, along with runny noses and/or eyes. There is a good chance that you’ll have difficulty sleeping too.

Do not assume that you’ll experience fewer symptoms once you get through the first day. When you withdraw from Demerol, you may have some bigger and more intense symptoms that can last for a few days or longer. Diarrhea is common, and so are stomach cramps and/or nausea. You may have goosebumps, which are small bumps that appear on the top layer of your skin. These bumps can appear even if you are not cold. Our clients often come to us with high blood pressure and an increased heart rate. Other side effects you might experience include vomiting and blurry vision.

How Long Does Withdrawal Last?

A big question that our clients ask is how long this withdrawal period lasts. They want to know when they will move beyond this difficult stage and into the treatment stage. Though it depends on many different factors, you can expect to see symptoms for a minimum of 72 hours. The worst symptoms occur within the first 24 hours, but you will keep showing them for the next few days. If you are a long-term user of Demerol, you may have symptoms that last for a full week. The Demerol withdrawal timeline differs from client to client.

Withdrawal Diagnosis

As someone who uses Demerol as directed or for recreational purposes, you should not diagnosis yourself at home. Though you may notice some of the side effects and feel confident that you can withdraw without any help, you never know what might happen. There is always a chance that you might become so sick that you cannot get out of bed. You also risk losing the fluids that your body needs due to diarrhea and vomiting. Another risk is that you might choke on your vomit. If you plan to stop using Demerol, you should speak to your doctor first.

To diagnose your withdrawal, the doctor will require a physical exam. You may need to provide urine and/or blood samples that allow the doctor to see how much of the medication is in your blood. The physical exam ensures that you are healthy and that you do not need Demerol. Your doctor may also take a medical history. If you do not have a doctor and need to safely withdraw from Demerol, contact us. We can help you find a good facility filled with medical professionals who will watch over you and keep you safe during the withdrawal phase.

Treatment Options

Looking at your treatment options is the best way to see how you can withdraw from Demerol in a safe environment. Treatment often involves the use of over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen. While you cannot take stronger drugs to reduce your pain, a small amount of ibuprofen can help. You can get the help that you need through a detox program.

Demerol Detox

Drug detox is a program designed to help you safely stop taking a specific drug. When you enter a facility for Demerol usage or addiction, the detox process starts as soon as you arrive. You will meet with a doctor who takes a medical history and performs a physical exam, which may require that you give some samples. The doctor will then determine if you need aspirin or another OTC medication to help you cope with your pain. You may also receive medications to help with any nausea or diarrhea. Many of our clients spend a lot of their time in a detox program simply sleeping and resting when they can’t sleep.

Other Medications

Some of our clients require different medications to help them with their symptoms. Doctors usually only recommend these medications for patients who have more serious side effects. One option is Clonidine. Clonidine can reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal by up to 75% with some patients experiencing 50% fewer symptoms. It works well on both physical and emotional side effects such as anxiety and sweating.

Your doctor may also write a prescription for suboxone along with an opioid blocker. The combination of the two drugs will reduce your side effects and block the effects that Demerol has on your body. This is the best option if you arrive at the detox center with some of the drug in your bloodstream. In some clients, methadone can also help. Though methadone is a strong pain killer, it can wean you off the Demerol.

Is Rapid Detox Right for You?

Detoxing from Demerol usually takes a long weekend. You arrive at the treatment center on Friday night or during the day and leave on Sunday. If you have less time, you might opt for a rapid detox program.

When you arrive, the doctor will perform the same exams and then move you to a safe and comfy room. You receive medications that put you to sleep as the Demerol works its way out of your body. Rapid detox allows you to sleep through the withdrawal process. There are many negative side effects of rapid detox that you need to know about such as respiratory issues and psychosis. Rapid heart rate and suicidal thoughts are also common. Other side effects can include delirium and even death.

What to Look for in a Detox Facility

Though detox facilities can help you safely withdraw from Demerol, not all facilities are the same. You should look for one that accepts your insurance. If you do not have insurance, you’ll find facilities that have payment plans and sliding scale fees. With sliding scale fees, the facility bases your rate on how much you make and what you can afford to pay.

It’s also helpful to look for facilities that offer treatment after you withdraw. Inpatient programs ask you to live in the facility and work with medical professionals both during the detox stage and later. Outpatient programs offer the help and treatment that you need but only during the day. You only need to spend a few hours in the treatment center every day.

Follow-up care is also important because you need a good support system as you recover. Private therapy is a good choice if you can afford to meet with a therapist, but you may prefer group sessions. Group therapy sessions are often cheaper but only meet at specific times or on certain days. You may find that 12-step programs are also helpful as you learn to live without Demerol.

Don’t Let Demerol Control Your Life

Using Demerol to treat your pain can lead to addiction. This causes you to feel as though you have no choice but to keep using the drug. When you stop, you’ll experience many symptoms of withdrawal that last for 72 hours or more. Reach out to a treatment center today to get the Demerol withdrawal help that you 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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