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Article Summary


Demerol is the brand name for the prescription pain reliever Meperidine, a fast-acting opioid used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is considered to be more effective than even Morphine in treating pain, so it is used liberally in clinical settings to provide fast acting pain relief. Although it is fast-acting, the length of time it provides pain relief is only typically 2 or 3 hours. It therefore has to be continuously administered in order to provide long-acting pain relief. Like all other prescription opioid drugs, Demerol is often abused by both legitimate prescription holders and by individuals who abuse these types of drugs and illicit street opiates to get high. Because it is fast-acting, it is highly sought after by individuals who want to experience an immediate opiate high and the drug is therefore one of the most diverted pharmaceuticals on the market.

Demerol Effects

Individuals who are prescribed Demerol may become involved in abuse if they become too dependent to its effects. This can happen to someone with no history of substance abuse in their past, due to the powerful effects the drug can have and the fact that they will experience opiate withdrawal and cravings if they stop using the drug all of a sudden after long-term use. This is much like a heroin addict who tries to kick the habit, and individuals who use Demerol legitimately will have to struggle with very similar symptoms and cravings when they try to stop using it. In fact Demerol withdrawal is considered to be a very high risk process, and legitimate users who have been on the drug for a significant amount of time should be taken off of the drug while under the care and supervision of detox or medical professionals.

Individuals who abuse opiates and prescription opioids are very likely candidates for abuse of Demerol. Someone who is addicted to these types of drugs for example will often "doctor shop", meaning they will go to several doctors complaining of this or that non-existent ailment to get their hands on whatever opioid drug they can; the more fast-acting and potent the better. Individuals who become involved in this type of abuse will do just about anything to get more drugs, including prescription fraud and other just about any activity which will help their habit.

Individuals who use Demerol and other opiates or opioid prescription drugs will also build a tolerance to these types of drugs if used long-term. This can happen with both legitimate and illicit use. For example, someone who is taking a certain dose of Demerol to relieve pain will eventually stop experiencing pain relief from that dose, so will need to take more to experience the desired results from the drug. The same goes for using Demerol to get high. Sooner or later the illicit user will become tolerant to any given dose of Demerol and will need to take more to experience any kind of euphoric high from taking it. This is a very dangerous circumstance, because there are always risks involved when taking high doses of any street opiate or opioid prescription drug. These types of drugs suppress the central nervous system, and in high doses someone can experience respiratory depression to the point where they have trouble breathing, stop breathing and can either go into a coma or die.

Respiratory depression is a very common outcome associated with any type of opiate overdose, and Demerol is no exception. Individuals who may have a prescription for Demerol but may be using it too liberally may not understand these risks, but they too are putting themselves in harm's way when using the drug other than prescribed. Illicit users often understand these risks, but ignore them because getting high is the priority. The risks associated with Demerol overdose and any side effects from the drug are of courses significantly magnified when taking the drug with other drugs; other depressants in particular. Alcohol for example should never be combined with any type of prescription opioid including Demerol. Unfortunately, alcohol is one of the preferred substances to abuse with such drugs and the combined depressant effects of both drugs can prove deadly.

Common Demerol Side Effects

Circulatory depression, respiratory arrest, shock, heart attack, seizures, delirium and other neuropsychological effects are common side effects and undesirable outcomes for individuals who misuse and abuse Demerol, all very serious conditions which could result in long term consequences or the individual losing their life. All of these side effects and outcomes are significantly more likely for someone who is not yet tolerant to opiates or who may not be tolerant to that certain dose. Tolerance levels can vary from person to person. For example, someone who is accustomed to opiates and would be considered tolerant to them may take a certain dose of Demerol which could kill a new user. Regardless of tolerance level however, anyone is at risk of side effects and overdose and there is no truly safe dose of Demerol for anyone who is abusing it in this way.

Demerol Abuse Treatment

Because of the risks involved, it is highly recommended that anyone who wants to stop using Demerol after long-term use seek assistance at a professional detox facility or drug rehab program. Because dependence to the drug can develop after only a few weeks of regular use, even legitimate users should come down off of the drug under medical supervision. How long these withdrawal symptoms last and the severity of withdrawal all depends on how long the individual has taken the drug and at what dosage, but this process can typically be overcome within a matter of days. After detox, it is highly recommended that individuals who found themselves to abuse the drug even when prescribed and illicit users seek further treatment to resolve their addiction issues so that they can prevent this type of abuse in the future. To receive no further treatment following detox has been shown to almost guarantee future relapse, a circumstance which can avoided entirely with effective treatment in a long-term inpatient or residential drug rehab program.

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