A Demerol overdose can occur whether you accidentally or intentionally take more than your prescribed dose. An overdose may also occur when you take another drug that has a harmful interaction with Demerol. Because this prescription drug has habit-forming properties, you should stay aware of yourself or a loved one who’s taking Demerol. Watch for the signs of addiction, and know what the signs of a Demerol overdose are to keep yourself or your loved one safe.
Demerol is an opioid although you may also see it referred to as a narcotic. These terms mean the same thing; they are drugs that relieve pain and dull your senses. “Narcotic” used to be the term more frequently used, but now, most people refer to these drugs as “opioids.” As you’ve probably heard, there is an opioid epidemic in the U.S. Raising awareness about this issue and learning what you can do to spot and treat an addiction early on can help reverse the devastating trend. Overdosing on Demerol and other opioids can result in death.
Part of what made Demerol a popular street narcotic is the euphoric feeling it provides and the sweet banana taste of the liquid medicine. The effects of Demerol are similar to those of morphine. Like with other drugs, an overdose on Demerol causes unpleasant and life-threatening symptoms. These overdose symptoms are worse when it has been mixed with other drugs.
Opioids caused 46,802 overdose deaths out of 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2018. The economic impact of opioid addiction is estimated to be $78.5 billion per year in the U.S. Around 21–29% of people who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain start to misuse them.
What Happens During a Demerol Overdose?
There aren’t always obvious signs that someone has overdosed on Demerol. The drug slows down vital organs, and this might not be obvious, even to the trained eye.
Symptoms of a Demerol overdose include:
- Bradycardia, or a slow heart rate
- Inability to stay awake
- Low blood pressure
- Weak muscles
- Cold, clammy skin
- Respiratory depression
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Muscle twitches
- Cardiac arrest
Although others may be unaware that someone is experiencing an overdose on Demerol, the individual can usually tell because they’re feeling the sensations in their body. Take symptoms like a slow heart rate and shallow breathing seriously. It’s important to not take chances when you’re going through an overdose. You should immediately seek emergency medical care.
Respiratory depression is a common symptom that people experience when they overdose on Demerol. When respiratory depression isn’t treated, it could cause brain damage or death because your brain isn’t receiving enough oxygen. Signs that respiratory depression is occurring are shortness of breath, shallow breathing, sleepiness, headaches, seizures, depression and confusion. Your fingers, toes or lips may turn blue as well. Some people actually have fast breathing during respiratory depression because their bodies are struggling to remove the excess carbon dioxide from the bloodstream.
Cardiac arrest is when your heart stops beating. Some people experience symptoms before cardiac arrest, such as dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, heart palpitations, vomiting and chest pain. If your loved one has collapsed or lost consciousness, they might be experiencing cardiac arrest.
How much Demerol causes an overdose depends on your age, weight, height and tolerance level. The amount of Demerol that causes an overdose is much lower when it’s mixed with alcohol or other opioids.
You should never use silverware to measure your medicine. Only use the measuring cup that came with your medicine or a syringe to accurately measure your dosage. A person could overdose from mistaking a tablespoon for a teaspoon. Not all silverware is of the same size either. When it comes to medicine that comes in pill form, don’t split pills unless your doctor has told you it’s safe to do so. Some pills can cause harmful effects when you split them.
How Do You Treat a Demerol Overdose?
Only medical professionals can treat a Demerol overdose. If you are concerned that you may have overdosed on Demerol, you need to contact emergency services and focus on staying calm. Take slow, deep breaths to the best of your ability while you wait for EMS to arrive. Feeling panicked could worsen your symptoms, which is why it’s important to stay calm. Don’t take any other drugs in an attempt to calm yourself because their interaction with the drug already in your system will make the overdose worse.
If someone you love is going through an overdose, help them stay calm and say encouraging words to them while you wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Ask your loved one how much Demerol they took, what other drugs or medications they have taken, how they took the drugs and what their most prominent symptom is. This information will help medical professionals quickly and effectively treat the overdose.
How the medical responders treat your Demerol overdose depends on the symptoms you’re experiencing and the severity of those symptoms. If you have respiratory depression, they may give you stable airflow. In order to remove some of the drug from your system, they might pump your stomach.
In the hospital, you may be given naloxone, which is a medicine that treats opioid overdoses. It counteracts respiratory depression and cardiac difficulties.
What You Need to Know When You’re New to Demerol
If you were recently prescribed Demerol, some of the side effects you may experience are similar to those of an overdose. As long as you’re taking the correct dose, you’re not having symptoms of an allergic reaction and you’re not missing any of your doses, you should be safe. Signs of an allergic reaction to Demerol are itching, swelling, rashes, trouble breathing and severe dizziness. You need to seek medical care promptly when you have an allergic reaction.
- Pain or redness at the injection site
You usually don’t need to seek medical attention for these side effects of the dose that your doctor gave you. Serious side effects that are a cause for concern include:
- Difficulty urinating
- Stomach or abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Slow or irregular heartbeat
- Mood changes
- Vision changes
You should let your doctor know if you have serious side effects. Your physician may lower your dose or try a different prescription.
Addiction Is Possible Even While Taking Your Prescribed Dose
Because Demerol has addictive qualities, it’s possible to become addicted even when you followed your doctor’s orders. If you have become addicted, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, cravings for Demerol, a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, poor performance at work or school and taking the drug when you’re not supposed to.
Most addictions start off mild but gradually strengthen. The best time to enroll in rehab is when the addiction is still mild because it’s easier to overcome in the earlier phases. Hope isn’t lost if your Demerol addiction has become moderate or severe. We have seen plenty of people overcome moderate to severe addictions.
Withdrawal symptoms of Demerol include:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Dry mouth
- Runny nose
- Runny eyes
- Increased blood pressure
Why You Can’t Quit Demerol on Your Own
Never take yourself off of Demerol abruptly. You need the guidance of a medical professional to safely wean yourself off of the medication whether you were taking it as a prescription or as a street drug. Your withdrawal symptoms could be severe if you attempt to gradually decrease your dose on your own. Stopping Demerol suddenly can also cause severe withdrawal, which is why your doctor gradually lowers your dose.
Once you have successfully stopped using Demerol, you should safely dispose of any unused portion of the medication. This removes temptation from yourself and others to misuse the drug. Demerol should never be taken without a doctor’s instruction, not even if you have taken it before without problems.
When you have overdosed on Demerol, you will typically need to go through detox to cleanse it from your system. Detox is the first step of Demerol rehab as well. It assists in breaking the physical side of your addiction. You must then go through either inpatient or outpatient rehab to treat the mental side of your addiction. It takes more time to overcome from the psychological aspects of substance use disorder. How long a person needs to be in rehab depends on the individual. The more severe the addiction, the longer you should stay in rehab. As you progress, you can spend less time in rehab.
Inpatient rehab requires that you live at the facility while receiving treatment. Most inpatient programs take 28–90 days. You can take time off of work without losing your job to go through an inpatient drug rehab. For most people, 30 days isn’t enough to truly break their bad habits. We recommend continuing treatment for at least 90 days.
Once you are out of inpatient rehab, you should immediately attend an outpatient program to maintain sobriety and continue the journey to lasting change. Outpatient programs typically only require a time commitment of 10–12 hours a week, but some are more involved.
Granite Recovery Center offers inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, aftercare and alumni programs for Demerol addiction. If you have more than one mental health disorder, we also provide dual diagnosis treatment. We highly recommend aftercare once you’ve finished a rehab program because it helps keep you on track with a minimal time commitment. You only meet around once a week to discuss your progress toward your goals and any struggles you’re experiencing in life. Studies have found higher sobriety rates among people who go through aftercare.
Consider Gender-Specific Treatment for Your Demerol Addiction
Gender-specific rehab can also be more helpful because it is structured with the unique needs of men and women in mind. Men typically take longer to open up than women. Because of society’s views on gender roles, men are raised to not show what they perceive as weakness or vulnerability.
Women who develop substance use disorders have often been victims of sexual assault, so a woman who has this type of past trauma will feel safer in group therapy that only has women. Granite Recovery Center offers men’s and women’s rehab if you think you would benefit more from gender-specific treatment.
Our treatment centers have been operating for more than 10 years. The approach we take in treating drug addiction incorporates psychotherapy and a 12-step curriculum. Some people associate 12-step treatment with religion or with Alcoholics Anonymous, but it’s far broader than that. People of all religions and of no religion can go through 12-step treatment. It has been found effective in treating other types of addiction too.
Demerol is a drug that should only be used following a doctor’s guidance because of its potentially harmful and addictive qualities. If you feel uncomfortable with being prescribed an opioid, you can ask your doctor about alternative options in managing your pain. If you have become addicted to Demerol, whether you obtained it through a doctor or other means, you can enroll in drug rehab to take back control over your life.