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Demerol Addiction: A Powerful Opioid with Deadly Consequences

More technically known as pethidine, meperidine, and phenylpiperidine, Demerol is a prescription medication that belongs to the opioid family of drugs.

And while it does have a number of legitimate medical uses, this drug is also incredibly addictive and especially dangerous.

That’s why if you think you’ve developed a Demerol use disorder, it’s vital that you know just how risky it can be to continue abusing this drug. And just as importantly, you absolutely need to know how best to treat it.

What Is Demerol & What Is It Prescribed For?

Like other opioids, meperidine is used to treat moderate to severe pain in patients and is sometimes used during surgery. It’s frequently used because it’s so effective and fast-acting.

What is Demerol

It's meant only to be used in the short-term though as long-term treatment can end up causing dependency and eventually addiction.

As an opioid, Demerol affects the brain and body by stimulating certain cells called opioid receptors. These cells are used to help regulate mood, pain sensitivity, and sedation, among other things. As a result, taking it not only changes the way your body responds to pain, it can also make you feel sleepy, relaxed, and even euphoric at certain dosages.

But also like other opioids, Demerol can actually end up becoming a substance of abuse.

In fact, opioids like pethidine are so addictive today that 1 in 4 patients who use them end up struggling with a dependency issue according to the CDC.

What’s more, around 46 people die every single day from overdoses involving prescription opioids.

This is one prescription pain pill that’s much more dangerous than it seems.

How Is Meperidine Abused?

There are a couple of different ways that opioid medications like Demerol are abused today.

Injection – Many Demerol abusers get high on the drug by crushing it into a fine powder, dissolving it in water, and then injecting that liquid straight into their veins. This produces an almost immediate high but can end up causing numerous problems with your internal organs and can severely damage the injection site. Plus, sharing needles can spread bloodborne pathogens like Hepatitis C.

Snorting – Some abusers may crush up the drug into a fine powder and snort it through their nose to achieve a high. This method of abuse can cause serious damage to the tissues in your nasal cavity, among other problems.

Smoking – Like injection, smoking crushed up Demerol causes a much quicker and more intense high. This can end up making it harder to quit, and it can also increase the risk for respiratory problems.

Ingestion – Last but not least, some people abuse meperidine simply by orally taking more of the medication than they are prescribed. This method of abuse doesn’t cause as much damage to the body’s tissues like the other methods, but it can still easily lead to addiction.

What Are Demerol’s Side Effects?

Taking Demerol can cause sedation, tranquility, and a reduced ability to feel pain, the main reason it’s prescribed in the first place.

Demerol Side Effects
However, taking pethidine can also end up causing a host of physical and mental side effects – even when it’s taken properly. According to MedlinePlus, the most common ones include:
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Extreme calm
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Changes in vision

How Does an Addiction Develop?

Most people first start taking this powerful drug to get relief from pain, and it never even enters their minds that they could become addicted to it. “After all,” you think, “it came directly from a doctor. How dangerous could it be?”

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It’s possible that this is precisely what happened to you, and you have no idea why you even formed an addiction to Demerol.

When you began using Demerol, your brain was stimulated by the reward and withdrawal cycle that the medication caused. As time went on, you started to develop a tolerance to it, and it didn’t work as well as it once did.

You may have started noticing symptoms of withdrawal that indicated you needed to take more of your medication because only then could you feel like you were normal again.

This is how addiction often starts – with a physical dependency.

But eventually, the problem becomes psychological too. Soon, you feel compelled to keep using more and more of the drug in order to achieve the same high. And eventually, that need spirals out of control until you can’t stop using, even though you know it’s ruining your life.

This is addiction – a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Breaking the cycle of addiction can certainly be difficult, but it gets much easier with the right kind of professional support to help you through the steps of recovery.

What Are the Short- & Long-Term Effects of Abusing Demerol?

Addiction is a devastating disease. And even if you suffer from it for just a few years, the damage that it causes can end up lasting you a lifetime. Below are just a few of the most common short- and long-term effects that abusing this dangerous synthetic opioid pain medication can have.

Demerol Short and Long-term Effects
Short-Term Effects

Impairment – The high created by synthetic opioid pain medication can be overwhelming. And in many cases, when someone has abused Pethidine to a high degree, it can make it incredibly hard for them to function normally. This can make performing a job, driving, and even talking nearly impossible to do. It may also reduce your ability to make responsible decisions which can lead to shared needles, unprotected sex, and more.

Euphoria – The main reason why people abuse prescription drugs like Demerol in the first place, taking too much of this drug can create sensations of euphoria – a sensation of extreme happiness.

Depressed Respiration – Opioids like meperidine have a way of “slowing down” your brain and body’s natural processes. And pethidine abusers will likely experience a slower rate of breathing as a result. In fact, this slower respiration is often the cause of overdose. 

Risk of Overdose – One of the most notable short-term effects is the fact that abusing this drug can lead to an increased risk of overdose. And that risk jumps even higher when Demerol is combined with other drugs and alcohol.

Long-Term Effects

Numerous Physical Effects – Opioid abuse is associated with an increase in pain sensitivity, severe constipation, and infections in the tissues directly impacted by the method of abuse (i.e., skin for injection, nasal cavity for snorting, lungs for smoking, etc.).

Weakened Immune System – Some studies have shown that opioids may directly impact the body’s natural ability to ward off infection. And that can lead to a higher risk of contracting diseases like pneumonia, certain kinds of cancers, and even brain diseases.

Brain Damage The depressed respiration rate caused by opioids like Demerol may also lead to permanent brain damage. Since less oxygen is reaching the brain due to the lower respiration, a condition called hypoxia may develop. And eventually, this condition can lead to coma, permanent brain damage, or even death.

Spotting a Meperidine Overdose

Overdosing on prescription opioids and drugs, in general, has become much more common in the past few decades than it's ever been. In fact, overdoses have now become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.

That’s why it’s so important to know how to spot the signs of a Demerol overdose so you can get the proper professional help – before it’s too late.

According to MedlinePlus, if you notice the following signs, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim is unconscious, is having a seizure, or is having trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.
  • Slowed breathing
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Coma
  • Loose, floppy muscles
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

How Dangerous Is Combining Pethidine with Other Drugs?

To put it lightly – very!

One of the most notable dangers of abusing opioids like Demerol is the fact that oftentimes, people use them along with other drugs to achieve a more intense high.

Demerol Mixing Other Drugs

And this practice is actually pretty common too. For instance, the National Institutes on Drug Abuse found that 7 out of 10 teens who abused prescription opioids also used them with other drugs or alcohol.

Part of the danger comes from the fact that opioids like Demerol slow down your body’s rate of respiration or breathing. And when you combine it with other drugs that do the same thing, it can actually end up stopping your body from breathing altogether.

This, of course, can then lead to permanent damage or even death.

Some drugs speed up your body’s natural processes on the other hand. And while you might think that doing so would simply “even out” the high, it can actually cause a number of life-threatening problems like heart attack and stroke.

As a result, mixing any drugs with opioids unless your doctor recommends it should be avoided at all costs.  

Some of the most common drugs that are abused with opioids include:

What Are Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms Like?

For most people, the hardest part of getting clean from their addiction is making it through the symptoms of withdrawal. And for people who abuse opioids like pethidine, this process can be especially painful.

Demerol Rehab Withdrawal

Most recovered opioid abusers describe the withdrawal symptoms as being sort of like having the flu – except 10 times as bad. And for some, these withdrawals can make it especially hard to maintain sobriety and keep from turning back to using again.

Added to that, the withdrawal timeline for opioids like meperidine can end up lasting for

While not everyone’s withdrawal symptoms from Demerol addiction are going to be the exact same, there are a few common ones that most people will experience. These include:
  • Restlessness
  • Watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Stomach pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fast breathing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Back pain
  • Body Aches

How Can Professional Detox Help?

Coping with the intensely uncomfortable withdrawals of Demerol detox on your own can be tough. In fact, it can even be dangerous too since relapsing can often lead to fatal overdose.

That’s why it’s critical that you partner with an expert detoxification facility. These treatment programs can make it far easier to get through the withdrawals associated with opioid detox and may even shorten the timeline as well.

A medicated detox program will use powerful prescription medications to ease your symptoms. A holistic program, on the other hand, will help support your body more naturally, letting you avoid any additional side effects caused by these medications or worse – developing a whole new addiction to them.

But more importantly, these programs can also help keep you safe. Most treatment programs will provide 24/7 medical supervision so that should any complications arise, you’ll have the medical expertise needed to treat them nearby.

And last but certainly not least, a professional detox facility will also be able to teach you powerful strategies you can use throughout your recovery to help you cope with cravings and make healthy life choices.

Effective behavioral therapies like CBT, DBT, and more can all show you how to retrain your brain and stay on the path to recovery.

How Can Inpatient Rehabilitation Help?

Inpatient Demerol rehab is a vital part of the recovery experience because you really do need that higher level of support in order to successfully recover and kick your habits for good.

Demerol Rehab Inpatient
While there are a number of different types of rehab to choose from, inpatient treatment is usually considered the “gold standard.” That’s because it offers a host of benefits, including:
  • Being able to take some time away from home and your daily responsibilities to focus 100% on your recovery from addiction
  • Offering access to 24/7 medical care to help you get through the uncomfortable withdrawals
  • Helping you wean off your medication if that is recommended for you in the beginning
  • Providing professional support to keep you from relapsing and giving up on your recovery
  • Giving you the opportunity to meet others who also suffer from the same types of addictions and identifying with each other’s struggles

Recovering from an addiction is never easy. As a matter of fact, it's one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. However, it is also one of the most rewarding challenges you’ll undertake in your life.

But once you understand what a gift sobriety really is, you’ll realize that it’s worth it to take the time to invest in your recovery with inpatient Demerol rehab.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

You may also go through screening for co-occurring disorders during your time in rehabilitation.

That’s because addiction is often coupled with other overlapping mental disorders like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and more. And unless these conditions are also treated, the symptoms can end up making it even harder to recover from your Demerol addiction.

To put the problem into perspective, SAMHSA found that in 2014, 20 million people met the criteria for needing treatment for a substance use disorder. Of those 20 million, 8 million also had another mental disorder that needed treatment.

That’s about twice as high as the rate of mental disorders in the non-addicted population.

It’s essential, then, that when you’re choosing a recovery problem to help you kick your Demerol addiction for good, you use a treatment center that can also identify co-occurring disorders while you’re in recovery.

How Affordable Is Addiction Treatment?

Even though you know you need to get treatment for your Demerol habit, you might still be holding back because of the costs associated with detox and rehab. In fact, almost one in three addicts cited treatment expenses as the main reason why they never got the professional help they knew they needed.

And it isn’t surprising either. You might remember a time when most people had to pay 100% out of pocket for addiction help. And you probably think you just don’t have that kind of money. 

However, you may be surprised to learn that Demerol rehabilitation is actually more of a time investment than it is a monetary one.

That’s because a lot has changed recently when it comes to what health insurance companies are required to cover. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance company is now legally obligated to help to cover the costs of your addiction treatment.

And as a result, most patients are left with very little to pay out of their own pockets other than a copay. In fact, many health insurance providers now cover Demerol treatment centers completely, so you may not have to pay anything at all.

This is such a needed change in our country’s healthcare system, and it’s one that has allowed so many people to get the addiction help they really need.

It’s still important to verify your insurance beforehand though as some providers may not be considered in-network. And while they may still be required to cover your expenses, they may only be able to rebate the costs. And that can make it harder to afford treatment in some cases.

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Kick Your Demerol Addiction with Northpoint Washington

You may feel a bit nervous thinking about going to a Demerol addiction treatment center. Maybe you’re worried about the stigma attached to a substance use problem. Or maybe you’re embarrassed to ask for help. Or perhaps you’ve never thought of yourself as someone who actually had a problem in the first place, just like 93.3% of addicts today.

But no matter what your reasons are for holding back, the truth is that without the help of a professional treatment program, recovery is significantly harder to achieve. And oftentimes, it can be near impossible to do on your own.

That’s where Northpoint Washington comes in. We know that there is a serious need for professional help with this type of addiction. And we know that trying to get clean off of opioids without expert support often leads to relapse and even accidental overdose in some cases.

And that’s why we’re committed to making your recovery from Demerol addiction as simple, painless, and successful as possible. Our clean, modern facilities will help reduce the severity of your withdrawals and ensure you get the behavioral treatments you need to kick your meperidine abuse habit for good.

As hopeless as things may feel right now, sobriety is possible. And Northpoint Washington can help.

So please, contact us today to start your recovery. You’ll be so happy you did.

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