ClickCease Side Effects of Demerol Abuse - Granite Recovery Centers

Side Effects of Demerol Abuse

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

If you or your loved one is taking Demerol, it is essential to stay current on the latest information about the side effects after long-term use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that over 50 million men and women in the United States have a history of using prescription medications for purposes other than medical needs.

Demerol is an extremely addictive pain killer and opioid that has gained increasing popularity in the United States. It could be a challenge to identify the signs of Demerol abuse, especially if the person has a prescription.

About Demerol

Demerol, also called by its generic name meperidine, is classified as an opioid analgesic similar to morphine. This means it alleviates severe pain by altering the brain’s recognition of pain, leading to the body experiencing it differently. The medication should not be used for ongoing pain; it is meant to be used for temporary relief and sudden episodes.

Why Is Demerol Prescribed?

Demerol or meperidine is utilized to treat moderate or severe pain. It changes the way the nervous system and the brain react to pain, often helping patients be more comfortable during recovery from surgery.

Side Effects

Notify your physician if any of these side effects are too intense or frequent. These can include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Pain or redness at the injection site

More serious side effects have also been reported, but they are very rare. These symptoms require immediate medical attention. Be aware of the following manifestations:

  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficult urination
  • Changes in mood
  • Agitation or tremors
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Decrease in body weight
  • Tiredness or extreme fatigue
  • Changes in vision
  • Irregular heartbeat

Call 911 immediately if a person taking Demerol has a seizure, faints, is extremely drowsy, is difficult to wake up, or has slow or shallow breathing.

How to Deal With a Demerol Addiction

Although a person may be prescribed Demerol and take the indicated dose, they can still develop a psychological or physical dependence. The higher risk associated with Demerol is due to its classification as an opioid analgesic.

When it comes to alleviating severe pain quickly, opioids are extremely effective. However, a person can rapidly build a tolerance to the drug. If you or a loved one has built a dependence on opioids, it is crucial that you seek immediate help.

Learn to Identify Symptoms of Demerol Misuse

Even if Demerol is being taken exactly according to the prescription’s indications, it is important to be vigilant of signs that may indicate an addiction to the drug. These are some of the indications that may point to opioid dependency.

  • A person who has a dependence on Demerol will start to become obsessed with having the drug. This is both due to physical and psychological dependence. It is not helpful to completely eliminate the drug at once because withdrawal can be extremely difficult for the person. Instead, both the physical and psychological addictions must be alleviated with other therapies while Demerol is slowly tapered off.
  • A person who is dependent on drugs will lose interest in their life as the addiction progresses. Demerol addiction can make a person become withdrawn from their social circle, spending a lot of time alone and confined. They may no longer have an interest in enjoyable activities and hobbies. It is also common for them to start a different lifestyle that allows them access to the drug and the space to enjoy it.
  • Poor performance at school or work is another indication that a person may be going through a drug problem. Changes in their routine that are clearly affecting their normal life are definite signs that the person is experiencing a problem in their life.
  • Irregular behavior at home and other familiar settings are also signs that a person is dealing with a difficult personal challenge such as drug addiction. You may notice that there are changes in the way they interact with those who form part of their day-to-day environment. You may start to notice changes in the way they dress, walk, speak and rationalize their own behavior.
  • Financial difficulties due to overspending on Demerol is a common problem as drug abuse can become expensive. Some people don’t exhibit any other signs of addiction, but they have unexplained financial problems. When you are physically and psychologically dependent on any type of substance, you’ll make that your priority and may neglect other important aspects of your life.

Long-Term Effects of Demerol Abuse

Long-term Demerol misuse can cause serious health issues that have long-lasting effects on the brain and the rest of the body. The physical and psychological damage that results from a Demerol addiction requires the assistance of a team of health care professionals who are trained in helping people fully recover from pharmaceutical abuse.

Although illegal prescription drugs are often easy to obtain, Demerol is very dangerous to take without a prescription. The following are some of the negative effects that can result from a Demerol addiction.

Lack of Oxygenation to Blood and Tissues

A lack of proper oxygenation is also known as hypoxia. It is a common consequence of extended Demerol use. The drug lowers blood pressure and depresses the cardiovascular system. This leads to abnormal circulation patterns that result in improper oxygenation of the body and a decrease in cell function.

Oxygenated blood is vital to every system of the body. It is a key component of a medically stable body, and if compromised, it can lead to irreversible changes to a person’s health.

Opioid Brain Damage

People who habitually abuse Demerol have the potential of suffering a brain injury from the consistent lack of oxygen experienced by the brain.

Demerol causes a person’s breathing to slow down. Depressed breathing causes the heart to become sluggish, not beating fast or strong enough to pump proper amounts of blood throughout the body. Blood vessels are rendered unable to carry enough volume of oxygenated blood to all the organs and tissues, and the brain is one of the most important.

Depending on which region of the brain lacked oxygenation for long periods of time, a person may experience a wide range of symptoms, including the following:

  • Changes to vision and hearing can occur suddenly or progressively, in a consistent pattern or randomly.
  • Disturbed physical coordination and balance affect the way an addicted person walks and performs daily activities.
  • Inability to walk or move normally or at all indicate a change in the brain.
  • Frequent loss of memory without other explanations and other signs of dementia indicate that the brain has undergone a change.
  • Experiencing unexplained confusion, irritability or depression is a good indicator of lack of oxygen to the brain.
  • Loss of cognitive skills, such as changes in the ability to read or write, can occur due to lack of oxygen. Even subtle changes to cognitive abilities or slight modification to speech patterns may be indicative of brain damage.

Physical Dependence

Long-term use of Demerol can lead to physical dependence that is reached when the person cannot stop using the drug or reduce the dosage without experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms. To avoid serious episodes, the drug should be slowly withdrawn from the body.

Anxiety

Although Demerol acts as a substance that calms the body, it can produce anxiety when the system starts to crave more. People who are addicted to Demerol feel uneasy when they start to sense that it is time for the next dose.

The anxiety can be manifested in various ways, some more obvious than others. People may start to feel physical agitation, preoccupy their minds with negative thoughts or have trouble sleeping. Anxiety can also lead people to use alcohol, bite their nails or develop addictions to other substances or activities.

Depression

Someone who is addicted to Demerol will start to feel depleted. The drug produces feelings of relaxation, so it is terrible for motivating people to exercise or do other physical activities that invigorate the body.

People who abuse Demerol usually experience a low point in their mood every time they are not high on the drug. It is an endless depressive cycle of never feeling satisfied from the amount of the drug being taken. It can make a person feel defeated and psychologically weak.

Why Is Demerol Abuse Dangerous?

The opioid epidemic in the United States involves millions of people abusing drugs such as Demerol. It is a reality that is growing at a fast rate, especially in the past 10 years.

Many people feel that Demerol is not as dangerous as street drugs because it is a prescribed medication. There’s no stigma associated with taking a prescription drug for pain management. However, the reality is that pharmaceutical drugs with valid prescriptions kill more people in the United States than street drugs do.

One of the reasons why trying Demerol is extremely dangerous is that a person can develop a tolerance rapidly, requiring them to take progressively larger doses to achieve the euphoric effect they are looking for.

Increasing your Demerol dose without clearance from a medical doctor greatly increases the risk of experiencing adverse health issues. The drug affects the internal organs of the body, creating a cascade of symptoms that can become serious.

The long-term misuse of Demerol can result in a variety of health issues, including:

  • Headaches
  • Difficult or shallow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular events

All of the symptoms mentioned above can become very serious and even lethal if Demerol use is continued. Seeking immediate medical supervision is key in managing the symptoms and finding the path to fully recover from any form of drug dependence.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer a full spectrum of substance use disorder treatments and rehab care. We focus on individualized care from medically supervised detox to supportive aftercare. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency. Contact one of our admissions specialists for more information about our treatment programs and available resources for those experiencing addiction.

Effects of Demerol Overdose and Withdrawal

The withdrawal effects that a person can experience after discontinuing taking Demerol including the following distressing symptoms:

  • Cravings for Demerol
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Agitation
  • Cramping
  • Profuse perspiration
  • Fever
  • Insomnia

If a person is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they may take a larger dose of Demerol than they are used to, which could cause an overdose. The effects of a Demerol overdose can manifest in the following ways:

  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • The loss of consciousness
  • Extreme fatigue or sleepiness
  • Changes in the respiratory rate
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Coma
  • Seizures or convulsions

As you can imagine, an overdose of Demerol is a medical emergency that requires immediate stabilization. If you or your loved one experiences these signs, proper medical care is necessary to avoid permanent damage or even death.

Achieving a Demerol-Free Life

Detox of meperidine or Demerol can be a lengthy process depending on the amount of time the person used the drug. Like other opioids, Demerol should not be stopped suddenly because withdrawal can lead to serious medical emergencies.

To safely and effectively discontinue the use of Demerol, the person should receive the supervised care of a health team that specializes in opioid drug addiction. Recovery centers like ours help people fully understand the underlying reasons for their addiction so that they can stay sober after going through detox and rehab treatment.

Drug dependence is a disease that can be medically treated. At our rehab facility, patients can receive professional support that guides them through every step of their recovery. With the right tools and guidance, people are able to get a hold of their Demerol addiction and experience a life free from substance abuse.

Contact Granite Recovery Centers to start your journey to good health. Our expert health team is ready to fully assess your case to create an individualized drug rehab program specially customized for you. We are here for you in your journey to recovery.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.