Meperidine hydrochloride, better known as Demerol, is an opioid with similar chemical characteristics to morphine. The principal actions of therapeutic value are analgesia and sedation, and the drug produces effects that depress the cough reflex. Demerol, a strong opioid pain medication, is used to relieve moderate-to-severe pain.
The United States has seen an influx of opioid addiction throughout the country. The epidemic has even reached the point where U.S. President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017. Opioid prescriptions have quadrupled between 1999 and 2014 which has helped fuel this fire.
Million of Americans live and struggle with pain, and many are prescribed opioid pain medications to deal with and manage it. But as a result, some misuse and abuse these drugs, and a mass influx of addiction has followed. When someone can’t get the drugs from a doctor anymore, and they’ve become addicted, they turn to alternatives such as the illicit drug heroin.
Addiction is a disease that is decimating communities across the nation and world. The disease itself is difficult to overcome on your own, but there has been a significant increase in treatment facilities throughout the country. With the rise of substance abuse on a national scale, the state of emergency implemented in the United States is giving people more access to treatment. There are severe consequences that can happen as a result of drug addiction, and seeking to minimize that damage should be a top priority.
What is Demerol?
Demerol is narcotic analgesic with multiple actions that are similar to morphine. It works in the central nervous system on organs composed of smooth muscle. Demerol is not used to treat chronic pain; it is used only for acute episodes of moderate-to-severe pain. It is used to treat pain in a medical setting. It is most commonly used as a pain reliever for women who are in labor.
Opioids like Demerol are an effective means of treating pain short-term but have a high potential for abuse. It works by binding to natural opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors in the brain are responsible for blocking pain in the body and giving a sense of ease, but when you add foreign substances like Demerol, it causes an overflow. This is what creates the rush that users seek.
Demerol has a much faster onset than drugs like morphine, which is a reason why someone may seek it out for abuse. The high can be compared to feelings of warmth and relaxation, which signals it can be abused. Demerol can be addictive if abused, and this is even more evident when it is sold on the black market. Doctors exercise caution when prescribing Demerol to ensure the person being given the drug does not end up on the road to addiction.
What are the Signs of Demerol Addiction?
Someone who is in the early stages of addiction may not show as many symptoms as someone who has been using regularly. If you’re concerned, however, about a growing substance use disorder for either you or a loved one, there are signs that can reveal someone is struggling.
The first stages of addiction begin when the user begins taking higher doses than prescribed or using a drug that’s not prescribed for the purpose of getting high. When this stage begins, it can be a slippery slope to addiction. The abuse will contribute to the body, creating a tolerance after a short period of use.
A tolerance can be defined as when your brain begins adapting to the drug. When it does not have the same effect on you the first time you took it, this can be a sign of a growing tolerance. The longer you consume the drug the less effective it will become. This tolerance will soon grow into a dependence, and while the feeling from it may be getting weaker the desire to use will grow. At this point, sudden cessation of the drug may result in withdrawal.
Addiction can be defined as the compulsion to use a substance despite the consequences attached to its use. It is a complex brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use. Those with this disorder suffer from distorted thinking, behavior, and body functions. If your use of Demerol causes you to lose your job or get expelled from school but you continue to use, this could signal you have become addicted to the drug.
What is Involved in Demerol Addiction Treatment?
Addiction is a disease that requires medical intervention to heal. The disease of addiction is a lifelong medical condition, but it is a manageable disease as long as the right foundation is set in place.
While no stage of treatment is more important than the other, the first and most difficult stage of the process is medical detoxification. The withdrawal process from opioids is not necessarily life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and cause havoc on the mind and body. Symptoms have been described as similar to the flu and can be so intense that the user immediately goes back to using the drug to escape the inevitable. These symptoms can include sweating, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.
Attempting to go through the withdrawal process on your own can automatically set you up for failure. Detox will provide you with 24-hour access to medical professionals who may provide medications for withdrawal symptoms. This will allow a safe transition back into sobriety. Detox is beneficial because it increases the chances of long-term recovery success.
Once you have completed detox, a team of devoted medical professionals will determine a medical plan for you. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you can be placed into a residential treatment center or an intensive outpatient center (IOP). Residential treatment will offer around-the-clock access to care and keeps outside distractions and temptations at bay while you heal and focus on your addiction.
Intensive outpatient (IOP) offers the same therapies you would expect to find in residential, but you can go home once therapy ends for the day. You will still spend more than nine hours a week in therapy and be required to submit drug tests regularly. You could be placed in individual and group therapies, family therapy, and a wide range of cognitive behavioral therapies. This is the most popular therapy in treatment and will help to develop a relapse prevention plan.
How Dangerous is Demerol?
Demerol is less commonly prescribed in the United States because of how it poorly interacts with other medications. The drug also breaks down differently in your body. Once it’s broken down, it takes the form of norpethidine, which cause brain damage and harms the nervous system. The drug is still used in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Generally, opioids are unsafe when used as prescribed, but they become deadly when abused. Thousands of lives are cut short yearly in the United States because of opioid abuse, causes economic hardships to the country. When doctors stop prescribing Demerol or other opioid drugs, it is common for the user to resort to heroin as a means to support their habit.
Seventy-five percent of people who started to use and abuse heroin began with prescription opioids. When all of these factors are combined, it is easy to see why Demerol can be extremely dangerous.
Demerol Abuse Statistics
- From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment
admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in increased in parallel. The overdose death in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate.
- Of the 20.5 million Americans age 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers, and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
- In 2015, 276,000 adolescents were current nonmedical users of pain reliever, with 122,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers