What Is Demerol Withdrawal?
Prolonged abuse of Demerol can cause abnormalities and changes in the user’s brain. When these changes occur, it means the user has become reliant on Demerol—they’ve developed a tolerance, dependence, or even an addiction.
Even those who follow a prescription can become dependent on Demerol.
Withdrawal occurs when a physically and/or psychologically dependent Demerol user quits taking the drug or reduces the amount they take. As their body tries to physiologically adjust to no longer having Demerol in its system, the user will experience unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal, such as anxiety and agitation.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with Demerol are not typically life-threatening, but they may feel that way to the user. Symptoms can be quite painful and are best treated in a medical environment.
Symptoms Of Withdrawal
Withdrawal from Demerol is different for each user. The symptoms that present are dependent on how long Demerol was abused, how much of the drug was taken, how often Demerol was taken, whether they also abused any other substances, their mental and physical health, and how they took Demerol.
Demerol withdrawal symptoms are typically moderate to severe and can include the following:
- Runny nose
- Discharge from eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Dry mouth
- Increased blood pressure
Demerol users may also experience strong cravings when they first quit the drug, prompting some to begin using again. To reduce the likelihood of relapse, those who are addicted to Demerol should seek the help of a medical detox program.
Duration Of Withdrawal
While the duration of withdrawal is different for everyone, most people begin experiencing symptoms within the first 24 hours after their last dose.
For some, withdrawal can start as quickly as three hours after quitting.
There are 2 phases of Demerol withdrawal, acute withdrawal and Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS). Acute withdrawal is especially unpleasant, but usually only lasts for 3 to 10 days. Any symptoms that last longer than 10 days are considered PAWS. PAWS can last as long as 24 months, but usually slowly diminish as time goes by.
Demerol Withdrawal Timeline
|First 24 hours||Symptoms typically begin three to 24 hours after the user’s last dose. Anxiety, irritability, physical discomfort, and nausea are usually the first symptoms to present. Cravings and urges to use are strong.|
|Day 2 to Day 5||Withdrawal tends to peak over the next few days. The former user may feel uneasy, alarmed or even fearful. Physical symptoms often set in, like sweating, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. Demerol cravings may be strong.|
|Day 6 to Day 14||Over the next week or two, symptoms begin to fade. Any remaining symptoms should be mild. At this point, acute withdrawal has ended and PAWS has begun.|
|Days 15+||Cravings for the drug may persist, but most, if not all, other symptoms, including inability to feel pleasure, decreased appetite, restlessness, irritability, agitation, anxiety, depression, poor concentration, mood swings, lack of motivation, and poor sleep patterns should subside.|
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Demerol users are advised to consult a doctor before quitting the drug if they have a prescription. Demerol users who do not have a prescription are advised to get an evaluation of whether or not they should complete withdrawal in a medical detox program.
During medical detox, doctors may taper off the user’s dose of Demerol over a period of weeks. However, it is more common to switch to another, similar substance, such as Buprenorphine, Suboxone, or Subutex. Either method helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and is safer and more comfortable than quitting “cold turkey.” Sometimes, a physician will prescribe medications to help with the withdrawal process.
Two medications that are commonly used to treat Demerol withdrawal are Suboxone and Subutex.
Both of these medications help with the painful symptoms of opioid withdrawal and have the same active ingredient, Buprenorphine. Suboxone also has a second active ingredient, an Opioid antagonist called Naloxone. Naloxone makes it next to impossible for the user to feel the euphoric effects of opioids, making relapse less likely. It also makes the user more likely to overdose because they often take more and more Demerol to get the effect they desire.
“The theory behind this treatment is that the repeated absence of the desired effects and the perceived futility of abusing opioids will gradually diminish craving and addiction. Naltrexone itself has no subjective effects following detoxification (that is, a person does not perceive any particular drug effect), it has no potential for abuse, and it is not addictive.”
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Treatment For Demerol Addiction
There are many treatment options available to those struggling with Demerol addiction, including inpatient and outpatient programs. For more rehab-related information, contact a treatment provider today.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:
Theresa Parisi received her bachelor’s degree in Addiction Science and Psychology from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota in 2010. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) by the Florida Certification Board. Theresa is passionate about recovery having gone through addiction herself.
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- RxList. (2015). "Demerol". Retrieved on October 4, 2015 http://www.rxlist.com/demerol-drug/warnings-precautions.htm
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). "Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)". Retrieved on October 4, 2015 https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/pharmacotherapies
- Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System. (2015). "Meperidine Withdrawal Syndrome Associated with Low Dose Short Term Use". Retrieved on October 4, 2015 http://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/meperidine-withdrawal-syndrome-associated-with-low-dose-short-term-use-2161-069X-1000265.pdf