It is estimated that there are more than 130 fatalities from opioid overdose daily in the United States. The misuse of and addiction to opiates, including prescription pain relievers like Demerol, contributes to the national crisis that affects all aspects of public health and social and economic factors. The issue that used to be confined to specific areas in the country has now spread throughout the country.
Demerol, the brand name for meperidine, is an opioid medication that has “opiate-like” effects but isn’t one in chemical structure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a very potent and highly controlled substance.
Demerol is a potent opiate drug that can cause severe withdrawals if stopped abruptly. Often, those who attempt to stop the medication on their own fail because they cannot handle the severity of the symptoms of withdrawal.
Meperidine was once thought to be safer than other opioids with a lower risk of addiction. It was this thought that led to a widespread addiction crisis on Demerol in the 20th century. Thus, many people became addicted to it, even when using it as prescribed. Demerol is a strong drug that is only used in a controlled medical setting today.
Its potency and the potentiality of becoming chemically dependent on it are why it is best to seek help when wanting to stop taking Demerol. It is not wise to suddenly stop taking these types of drugs because the withdrawal symptoms can be intense and discomforting. Opiate or opioid withdrawal is not a process to do alone.
Demerol withdrawal symptoms have two phases. The first feels like having a common cold. The second phase will feel like you have the flu. People who have gone through opioid withdrawal relate that it is like having the worst flu.
Demerol withdrawal also comes with intense emotional and psychological symptoms. Agitation and anxiety are typically part of the first phase. Depression occurs in the second. Depression can cause suicidal thoughts that might require assistance in getting through. An addiction treatment specialist can help you make it through the rough emotional and psychological parts.
Withdrawal symptoms in the first phase include:
Once this phase is over, the second phase is when symptoms begin to peak and become extremely uncomfortable. These include:
Demerol withdrawal is not dangerous when compared to benzodiazepines or alcohol. However, it is hard to go through this process without help, especially when intense cravings start. Relapse is a possibility for people who insist on going through withdrawal alone.
Overdose is a possibility when someone takes the same dose as before quitting. Your body has not adjusted to tolerate the same dose as before now that it is ridding itself of the drug’s toxins. Medical detox is the safest approach to treating Demerol withdrawal and alleviate symptoms that may be present.
Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and will differ depending on the level of chemical dependency. Symptoms range from mild to severe based on how long someone took the drug, how much of it was used, and the dosage that someone is used to taking.
Cravings for Demerol can be intense and hard to resist. Some may find it almost impossible to resist, which can lead to drug-seeking behavior that could include aggressively looking for alternatives like heroin.
The early cold-like symptoms will usually start first and last a couple of days. At 72 hours, the symptoms will begin to peak and feel like the flu. After these symptoms end, the other symptoms will start to increase in intensity. Most symptoms will begin to fade going forward after a week. Fatigue, depression, anxiety, and insomnia can continue for up to a month.
Symptoms that persist for longer than a month could be felt, so you should speak with an addiction professional. Longer-lasting symptoms indicate post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can last months or even years after stopping heavy Demerol use.
If you are serious about getting sober and want to be free from opioid addiction, you should consider detox. Quitting cold turkey can cause severe effects for the body and mind. Abruptly stopping Demerol use can be risky if you have been taking large doses for a long time.
Licensed addition staff and clinicians will help you transition smoothly from Demerol as you undergo medical detoxification. The program will provide medications that lessen the most severe withdrawal symptoms.
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Most important, medical detox holds you to your commitment to sobriety. When you try to detox alone, the end result is usually failure, and you can relapse back into the addiction you fought hard to break.
Addiction is a disease that affects the mind and body. Demerol addiction can have adverse consequences. It is a treatable disease, thanks to the advances in addiction treatment today. The hardest part is admitting you have a problem and overcoming it.
If you or a loved one is battling Demerol addiction and needs treatment, our addiction specialists are here for you.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Opioid Epidemic:What labs have to do with it?. King, E. PhD. RIDOH State Health Laboratories from https://www.cdc.gov/cliac/docs/fall2018/10_King_Opioid_Crisis.pdf
UCLA Kern Medical. Western University/ Kaweah Delta. (2019, October 9) Meperidine.Yasaei, R. Saadabadi, A from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470362/
Opiate and opioid withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm