Demerol is a narcotic pain reliever commonly used before and after surgery. It’s also used to relieve pain from injuries and chronic conditions that cause pain. It is most commonly given via injection, but it is also available in a pill and a syrup form. It works by changing your body’s response to pain. It interrupts the normal pain receptors so instead of pain, many people experience feelings of euphoria and the pain is reduced. Demerol is the brand name for this drug, and it’s also listed under the names Meperidine (generic) and Meperitab (brand name).
Before your doctor prescribes Demerol, he or she will do a full family history to reduce the risk for adverse reactions and addiction. He or she will also get your weight, check for other medications, and find out if you’ve ever had a reaction to similar medication. All of this information will help them decide the right dosing and route of administration.
What does Demerol do?
Demerol is used to treat severe pain. Demerol is prescribed when the pain is bad enough to need a narcotic or when other pain medications are not tolerated. It acts directly on the central nervous system (CNS) to alleviate pain by blocking pain receptors. It is not intended for long-term use and is best used for acute pain.
Is Demerol Addictive?
Demerol is highly addictive because it’s similar to morphine in the way it affects the body. It interrupts pain receptors and causes your brain to feel good instead of bad. This is what it is intended to do, however, this can lead to addiction when it’s overused or abused. Addiction can occur when doses are taken more frequently, when each dose contains more than is prescribed, and when you exceed the dosing on the label.
People who are experiencing Demerol addiction will start to exhibit drug-seeking behaviors. These can include stealing, isolation from loved ones, and neglecting family and other obligations. Physical addiction can cause pain and other symptoms as well. It’s important to seek out help for yourself or a loved one if they have Demerol addiction.
Is Demerol a Narcotic?
Demerol is a narcotic, like Morphine. Narcotics are a special class of medications because of their highly addictive nature and the way they impact the brain. You should not drink alcohol or take any other narcotic medications while on Demerol. They can cause life-threatening respiratory distress and heart conditions if used improperly. Demerol will likely impact the mood of the patient because that’s what narcotics do.
Side Effects of Demerol / Dependence
All prescription drugs come with the risk of side effects. Because Demerol is a pain medication, you might not realize that these side effects are because of the medication. It’s important to pay attention to your symptoms and note if you have any extreme side effects. The side effects may be alleviated with lower or less frequent doses. Additionally, some of these side effects warrant a change in medication. It’s important to report all side effects to your doctor.
Common side effects of Demerol include:
- agitation, restlessness, nervousness
- cardiac arrest, chest pain (angina), heart attack, fast heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, or palpitations
- coma, sedation, shock
- drowsiness, fainting, lightheadedness, or dizziness
- euphoria, mental clouding, depression
- dependence (physical and psychological)
- faintness, feeling uneasy, weakness
- hives or itching
- loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or dry mouth
- loss of interest in sex
- respiratory arrest or depression
Side Effects of Demerol Include These Reported Symptoms:
- withdrawal of newborn infants
- adrenal issues and serotonin syndrome
- respiratory depression, especially life-threatening kinds
Dependence on Demerol has its own set of side effects. The most common are stomach pain and difficulty breathing. Overuse, abuse, and overdose can lead to coma. Other effects of Demerol dependence include constant fatigue, sleepiness, itchy patches on the skin, mood swings, anxiety, depression, a dazed look, grogginess, craving the drug when you don’t have any available, and even profuse sweating.
People who are addicted to Demerol may exhibit different patterns of behavior beyond just feeling differently. They are prone to stealing and lying about money. Doctor shopping to get more medications. Stealing other people’s meds. Stopping normal daily activities including work and personal responsibilities. People with Demerol addiction become different people as they seek to feed that need.
Alternatives to Demerol
Many patients are not good candidates for Demerol as they already suffer from addiction and addictive syndromes. Or they have an allergy to a component of Demerol. In these instances, doctors may prescribe alternative medications to help alleviate pain. Other narcotics that are used in lieu of Demerol include morphine, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and fentanyl.
Doctors may prescribe Demerol in the hospital under controlled circumstances. If an alternative is needed, doctors may even recommend over-the-counter drugs for pain. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen Sodium (Aleve).
If you are addicted to Demerol, there’s help. It starts with first recognizing your dependence on it and seeking out appropriate care. Because Demerol is a narcotic, it is not safe to go off it cold turkey without proper support. Your doctor may suggest you enter a detox facility to help you come off Demerol safely. You may step down dosing of Demerol or try different pain medication.
Often the chemical dependence on Demerol leads to psychological dependence as well. This dependence needs to be addressed to help patients more effectively. Any time you use a medication for a reason not prescribed by a doctor, you are at risk of developing an addiction or dependence on it. This can even include pain that it was not prescribed for.
So, if for instance, the doctor prescribed Demerol for a back injury, but you use it for headaches, that can lead to addiction. It’s important to use your medications for only the reasons it was prescribed for and to properly dispose of remaining doses once you no longer need it.