Demerol Addiction

Demerol, an injectable form of meperidine, is an opioid pain medication one-tenth as potent as morphine. Producing intense euphoric effects, Demerol is associated with a high rate of dependency among users. Rehab treatment and support groups can guide individuals with a Demerol addiction toward recovery.
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Demerol is a brand name for meperidine, a narcotic analgesic that’s also referred to as pethidine. The opiate-based drug acts on the central nervous system to relieve pain. Demerol is short-acting and produces effects similar to morphine. Although Demerol is sometimes used legitimately to treat moderate to severe pain, it also has a high risk of abuse.

Fast Facts: Demerol

Abuse Potential
Scientific Name
Meperidine Hydrochloride, Pethidine
Drug Class
Street Names
Smack, Demmies
Side Effects
Blurred Vision, Chest Pain, Confusion, Dizziness, Fainting, Cardiac Issues, Hives, Itching, Respiratory Issues
How It's Used
Swallowed, Snorted, Injected
Legal Status
Schedule II

The drug is often abused for recreational purposes, and its use can lead to negative consequences. In 2015, an estimated 1.4 million people ages 12 and older used Demerol, and 106,000 people misused the drug, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. An estimated 6,000 people between the ages of 12 and 17 also misused Demerol that year.

Frequent or long-term Demerol use can lead to mental and physical dependence. Those who become addicted to Demerol experience intense withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using it, causing many to return to abusing the drug. As a result, overdose and death are common among those addicted to Demerol.

Treatment programs designed to expel the drug from the body and treat prescription drug addiction are available. Rehab facilities provide a structured and safe environment for recovery, offering individuals a realistic chance of overcoming addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Demerol Abuse

Meperidine medications come in pill and liquid form. Demerol is highly sought by drug abusers because it produces intense and pleasurable effects. Individuals with meperidine use disorders may also swallow or snort other forms of the drug to get high.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Demerol abuse can save you or a loved one from a life of addiction and harm.

Signs that an individual may be abusing Demerol include:
  • Lack of energy: An unusual pattern of drowsiness or lack of energy could be an indicator of Demerol abuse.
  • Inability to concentrate: Those who abuse Demerol may have difficulty concentrating or lack the motivation to perform tasks and keep up with responsibilities.
  • Changes in behavior or relationships: A different circle of friends could indicate Demerol abuse.
  • Changes in appearance: Negative changes in appearance, such as looking sick or tired, can be the result of opioid abuse.
  • Increased secrecy: Hide their substance use disorder inevitably leads to secretive or sneaky behaviors.

People who use Demerol chronically may develop an addiction. As a result, their behavior can become even more desperate or erratic.

Signs of severe Demerol addiction may include:
  • Hyperventilation
  • Irritability
  • Irrational sense of well-being
  • Nervousness
  • Redness of the skin
  • Hallucinations

Quitting Demerol can be extremely difficult once a tolerance develops. Because quitting cold turkey can lead to severe symptoms, it is safest to quit at a medical detox facility that offers medications to ease the withdrawal process.

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Constipation, Muscle Twitching and Other Side Effects of Demerol Abuse

Many individuals abuse Demerol to experience the euphoric effects, which include extreme calm and lightheadedness.

These effects are overshadowed by a variety of mild side effects the drug causes, including:
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Mood changes
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing
  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Changes in vision
Demerol can also cause a number of serious side effects:
  • Slowed or difficult breathing
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Muscle twitching or stiffening
  • Slow, fast, or pounding heartbeat
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Seizure
  • Hallucinations
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Overdose
Demerol abuse can also lead to overdose and death. Overdose symptoms associated with the drug include:
  • Coma
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Slowed breathing
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Inability to communicate
  • Loose, floppy muscles
  • Cold, clammy skin

People overdosing on Demerol require immediate medical attention. The effects of a Demerol overdose can be reversed with naloxone, an opioid antidote that can revive someone who has stopped breathing.

Rehab facilities offer treatment for physical dependence on Demerol, and therapy sessions set the foundation for long-term sobriety. Medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, can ease withdrawal symptoms during detox and decrease chances of relapse during therapy.

Demerol withdrawal symptoms include muscle ache, anxiety, diarrhea, dilated pupils and vomiting.

After treatment, support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous can provide a community of like-minded individuals who are there to assist one another throughout recovery.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Trey Dyer
Content Writer,
Trey Dyer is a writer for and an advocate for substance abuse treatment. Trey is passionate about sharing his knowledge and tales about his own family’s struggle with drug addiction to help others overcome the challenges that face substance dependent individuals and their families. Trey has a degree in journalism from American University and has been writing professionally since 2011.

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