Demerol is the brand name for the drug meperidine, which is an opioid painkiller. It is commonly used in the short-term treatment of severe pain and may be used during surgery or to ease the pain of labor and delivery during childbirth.
Demerol provides users with an extreme sense of euphoria and calm, and these pleasurable effects make it more likely to be abused. Although it is a Schedule II prescription drug, people may visit several different doctors, purchase Demerol from dealers, forge prescriptions, or steal it from friends and family in an effort to abuse it. Demerol is manufactured in tablet, syrup, or solution form and users typically snort it or inject it to enhance its pleasurable effects.
Demerol abuse can easily lead to adverse effects, such as tolerance, addiction, overdose, and death.
Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health problem in the United States. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 18.7 million people (or 6.9 percent of the U.S. population) abused prescription drugs in the past year. Despite its dangers, Demerol abuse and the abuse of other prescription opioid painkillers is a growing epidemic.
Prescription drug abuse may take many different forms, from stealing another person’s prescription to taking larger doses of a drug than prescribed. Although drugs like Demerol are generally safe when they are taken short-term and used as prescribed by a doctor, they can be dangerously addictive and even deadly when they are misused.
Not all individuals set out to misuse Demerol and other opioid drugs. Many people find that they enjoy the pleasurable effects these drugs create and end up taking the prescription in ways they did not intend to. A person may abuse Demerol in one or more of the following ways:
- Taking a higher dose of Demerol than prescribed
- Taking Demerol with the intention of getting high (not to relieve pain)
- Taking someone else’s prescription (even for a legitimate reason like pain-relief)
Demerol abuse may not always be obvious, but there are several physical signs of abuse to look for. They include:
- Disorientation or confusion
- Small pupils
- Slowed breathing
Long-term abuse of Demerol may also result in serious psychological and physical harm, including:
- Local tissue necrosis
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of HIV and other infectious diseases
- Permanent brain damage
- Increased risk of overdose and death
If a loved one is showing signs of Demerol abuse, he or she should seek help immediately.
Even when prescription opioids such as Demerol are used as prescribed by a doctor, they may cause physical and psychological dependence or addiction. Individuals most at risk for developing an opioid use disorder are:
- Young males
- People who have a history of using more than one prescription opioid
- Mental illness
- People who regularly maintain a supply of prescription opioids
- Teens or college students with a history of trauma, mental health issues, conflict with family members, or parents/friends who have access to prescription opioids
Although individuals who identify with one or more of these factors may have an increased risk of developing an opioid use disorder, anyone can become addicted to Demerol and other opioid painkillers. Common signs of opioid addiction include:
- An inability to control or stop drug use
- Continuing to abuse drugs despite the problems it causes
- Experiencing strong urges to use drugs
- Neglecting important obligations and hobbies
- Using drugs while engaging in dangerous or life-threatening behaviors
- Spending a great deal of time trying to obtain drugs
- Developing a tolerance and experiencing withdrawal when the effects of the drug wear off
If a person suddenly stops taking Demerol after weeks or months of abuse, he or she will experience uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms. These may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Watery eyes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Enlarged pupils
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle or joint pain
- Strong cravings
Detoxing from any addictive substance at home can be dangerous and unpredictable, but a medically assisted drug detox program can provide 24/7 monitoring, treatment of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, and medicated detox that allows for a gradual taper down into a sober state.
Medically assisted detox programs may also reduce a person’s likelihood of relapse, due to continued support from medical and therapeutic staff and peers. Treatment teams may also be able to provide individualized recommendations for ongoing treatment with an inpatient rehab program, outpatient rehab, or a sober living program.
Not everyone will have the same experience while detoxing from Demerol, but here is a general timeline of what a person may expect to experience during detox.
|24 hours after the last dose:||People may experience some mood swings.|
|2-5 days after the last dose:||Most people will begin to experience symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, muscle aches, and strong cravings for drugs.|
|6-14 days after the last dose:||Physical and psychological symptoms may continue during this time, but they will gradually decrease in intensity. Most symptoms should subside two weeks after the last dose. Some people may continue to experience cravings for a time even after completing drug detox.|
After a person completes detox for Demerol addiction, he or she may choose to continue treatment with a long-term drug rehab program. Although drug detox addresses the physical and emotional aspects of drug withdrawal, it does not address the root causes of the addiction or provide behavioral modification, tools, or life skills for relapse prevention.
Long-term addiction treatment is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as treatment that lasts for at least 90 days. Research shows that treatment of this duration or longer will provide the best opportunity for sustained sobriety.
People who are enrolled in a drug rehab program will work with licensed counselors, addiction treatment professionals, and peers in recovery to learn more about the disease of addiction, complete the 12-step program, modify negative thoughts and behaviors, and gain important life skills that will aid in relapse prevention.
Most rehab centers implement various forms of behavioral therapy and provide other specialized therapies such as art therapy, pet therapy, or family behavior therapy to address the unique needs of each client.
Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab
People in recovery may choose to enroll in either an inpatient drug rehab program or an outpatient drug rehab program. Both types of programs have varying benefits and the decision to choose one or the other should be largely based on the person’s needs.
Generally speaking, inpatient drug rehab is more structured than outpatient rehab. Clients live on-site at the rehab center for the duration of their treatment and access to the outside world is limited during that time. Clients must adhere to rules and regulations of the rehab center to continue treatment. This includes abiding by a daily schedule of individual and group therapy sessions, a physical fitness routine, and personal reflection. Meals and private or semi-private rooms are provided.
Outpatient rehab programs provide a little more flexibility in that clients are not required to live on-site at the rehab center. Instead, they can live at home but are required to attend a series of group sessions that span a period of several weeks or months. These meetings are facilitated by an addiction treatment professional and are hosted in a safe, clean, treatment facility.
Paying for drug and alcohol rehab is largely the responsibility of the client, although they may use their medical benefits to supplement the cost of treatment in some cases. If a person does not have medical insurance, he or she may also choose to take out a private loan or accept a loan from a willing friend or family member. Some employers also provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to help their employees obtain mental and physical healthcare to deal with personal issues such as substance abuse problems.
The overall cost of addiction treatment will vary depending on the type of drug rehab the person chooses, the location, and the facility itself.
Overcoming addiction is a lifelong process in which a person will need to maintain active involvement in their recovery. Upon the completion of drug rehab, a person may choose to continue their addiction treatment with a sober living program or an aftercare program. Both types of addiction recovery programs are designed to help people in recovery achieve lasting sobriety.
Sober Living Programs
Residents of sober living homes are typically enrolled in a transitional housing program that provides recovery support services such as:
- Regular drug and alcohol testing
- A safe, clean, and sober living environment
- Structured recovery programming
- Participation in the 12-step program
- Personal monitoring
- Career and education assistance
- Family involvement
The primary purpose of sober living houses is to assist individuals as they transition from a life of addiction to an independent life of sobriety. Some people may only live in a sober home for a few weeks while others may stay for several years. Regardless of the duration of their stay, transitional housing programs are designed to provide assistance to individuals in all stages of recovery.
The overall cost of a sober living program will vary, depending on the type of housing, the location, and the type of recovery support services a person chooses to enroll in.
Aftercare programs provide ongoing support for drug rehab alumni who want to continue their treatment with regular check-in meetings. These programs typically consist of a series of meetings that alumni attend with their peers in recovery. The discussion consists of a variety of topics, including personal issues, discussions about relapse, and ongoing encouragement and advice from peers in recovery. Aftercare programs encourage personal growth, foster healthy relationships, and provide accountability for people in all stages of addiction recovery.
- Gender-specific treatment
- Evidenced-based treatment
- 12-Step immersion
- 90-day residential treatment
- Family program
- Full continuum of care
- Insurance and private pay
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