Can You Get Addicted to Demerol?
Prescription drug abuse has been a consistent issue over the last several years, with narcotic pain medications being a driving force behind the opioid crisis. Mostly, when people think of opioid addiction they think of brands like OxyContin or Percocet. However, these are not the only powerful medications that contribute to the drug problem. Most people do not realize that even drugs like Demerol can quickly lead to tolerance and physical dependence. So when we talk about addiction and painkillers, we should not leave Demerol out of the conversation.
What is Demerol?
Demerol is a brand name for the potent, opiate-based drug Meperidine. This is a pain medication that works similarly to morphine. Meperidine consists of powerful pain relief and sedation properties. It is typically for treating moderate to severe pain symptoms associated with childbirth, cancer and heart attacks. Additionally, it can also be used during surgery or other procedures.
Demerol is well-known for effectively providing fast-acting relief, typically within fifteen minutes. However, it usually must be administered every three to four hours for effective ongoing pain control. The drug is available in oral tablets or as a liquid for injections.
What Causes Demerol Addiction
This medication is only meant to be used for short-term treatment of acute pain. Therefore, use is typically not recommended for more than two days. Yet, in some instances, physicians may prescribe it considerably longer for post-operative pain relief. Furthermore, any use that exceeds these time recommendations will invariably lead to physical dependence. In some cases, long-term use will also cause addiction.
Demerol works by activating chemical-producing cells in the brain. These cells produce large amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals. With excessive use, this chemical reaction can induce euphoria, which may cause some to use this substance recreationally. Users develop a tolerance when continued use leads to a chemical imbalance. This means the user must take higher, more hazardous doses to get the same effects. Moreover, this can cause an overdose, and the body could suppress respiration to the point of coma and death.
Meanwhile, the same mechanisms that produce fast and effective pain relief also contribute to the development of addiction. Demerol addiction creates neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain’s reward center that can cause adverse effects like the inability to feel pleasure, or even depression.
Demerol Addiction Side Effects
Many of the side effects of Demerol are similar to those found in other opioid painkillers. These adverse effects include:
- Low blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Cloudy thinking
- Impaired consciousness
- Involuntary movements
- Dizziness and fainting
- Respiratory depression
- Slowed or stopped heartrate
Furthermore, there is a number of serious health risks associated with Demerol use, such as organ damage due to oxygen deprivation. Some research also indicates that chronic use of Demerol can actually increase an individual’s chances of developing premature dementia.
These health risks are magnified when combining Demerol with benzodiazepines or alcohol. Mixing these substances can significantly increase the chances of severe respiratory depression. This further adds to the risk of overdose and death.
Demerol Overdose Symptoms
With the very real risk factor for overdose with Demerol addiction, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of a Demerol overdose. Some of these symptoms include:
- Shallow breathing, or lack of breathing
- Blue lips and fingernails
- Weak or limp muscles
- Cold, clammy skin
- Excessive drowsiness and nodding off
- Slowed or stopped heart-rate
- Lack of response
If you observe any of these symptoms and suspect a Demerol overdose, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Do not wait. Opioid overdose deaths are currently causing more deaths than ever before in the United States.
Signs of Demerol Addiction
As previously mentioned, the brain comes to rely on Demerol’s presence and effects over time. The drug causes structural damage to cells in the brain, and those damaged cells require increasingly larger doses to experience the same euphoric effect, or even just to relieve pain symptoms. Eventually, this leads to Demerol addiction. Chemical imbalances in the brain created by extensive use and abuse of Demerol warps the areas of the brain that regulate thinking, emotions and behaviors. Other signs of Demerol addiction include:
- Isolating to hide drug use
- Lying about frequency and dosage of Demerol
- Organizing life around getting and using drugs
- Continuing to use Demerol despite experiencing health problems
- Using drugs despite negative consequences in personal or professional life
In some cases, those addicted to Demerol will lie about pain symptoms, fake injuries or even intentionally injure themselves to get more prescriptions. Often, people with Demerol addiction will try going to multiple doctors, clinics, or emergency rooms to collect prescriptions. When someone is struggling with Demerol addiction, they will typically experience withdrawal symptoms without the drug, such as:
- Abdominal cramps
- Body aches
For those who are trying to discontinue use of Demerol, withdrawals can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome on the road to recovery. Due to the nature of the drug and the health risks associated with it, medical detox is recommended for those who are trying to safely get off the substance.
Comprehensive Addiction Treatment
Considering everything we know about Demerol abuse and addiction, inpatient treatment is advisable in almost all cases. It is never recommended that users abruptly stop taking Demerol. Instead, there should be supervised and careful tapering process or a pharmaceutical therapy plan using detox medication to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms and reduce drug cravings.
Detox medications can also help balance the damaged brain chemistry caused by prolonged drug use. This allows patients to be more receptive to counseling and behavioral therapy. Additionally, most people entering rehab programs are often in poor physical and psychological health. This is why a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment that addresses the various aspects of recovery are so important. Not only should treatment provide cognitive behavioral therapy, but also medical support for physical conditions and mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders.
Remember, the important neurological changes caused by opioid addictions can take months or years to heal. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial to consider aftercare options for Demerol addiction. Continuity of treatment is essential to ensure a smooth transition from the structure and security back into the outside community. Overall, an effective treatment program will help each individual design a personalized recovery plan that gives them a healthy foundation for building a better future.