Demerol is an opioid medication that can be addictive. The current opioid epidemic has been largely fueled by an influx of black market heroin and synthetic opioids that have made their way into the country due to transnational criminal organizations like the Mexican cartels. However, hundreds of cities and local governments have turned their attention toward Big Pharma corporations that sell prescription opioid medications. 

Opioids like Demerol can cause chemical dependence, addiction, and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they are abused or taken for too long. When it’s no longer possible to fuel addiction with prescription drugs, many people turn to illicit options like heroin. To break the addiction and abstain from opioids, you will have to go through unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. 

Learn more about Demerol withdrawal, its symptoms, and how it can be treated. 

What is Demerol?

Demerol is the brand name for a drug called meperidine. It’s classified as an opioid and used to treat moderate to severe pain symptoms. Demerol is similar to morphine in the way it works in the brain. It works in the brain by binding to your opioid receptors and activating them. These receptors are designed to work with your own naturally occurring opioid called endorphins. Endorphins work by blocking pain signals in the body, spine, and brain. However, prescription opioids like Demerol are generally more potent than your endorphins. They bind to receptors and effectively stop pain dead in its tracks. However, potency can also lead to drowsiness, euphoria, and sedation. 

Demerol can also be chemically addictive, which means that it can cause your nervous system to adapt to its presence and start to rely on it to maintain balanced brain chemistry. It can also affect the reward center of the brain, which is designed to pick on healthy, life-sustaining activities and encourages you to repeat them. When abused, Demerol can trick your brain into treating drug use like finding food or water and compelling you to use opioids habitually. 

If you stop using Demerol after becoming dependent, you’ll start to experience the consequences of unbalanced brain chemistry. This can cause a distinct set of uncomfortable symptoms that are difficult to get through alone. 

What Are the Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Demerol withdrawal, like other opioids, causes a range of symptoms that are comparable to the flu. However, people that go through opioid withdrawal often say it’s more like a very bad case of the flu, and the symptoms can be extremely unpleasant. They usually start out fairly mild and get more intense over time. After your symptoms reach peak intensity, they’ll gradually start to go away as your condition improves. 

Unlike the flu, Demerol withdrawal may also come with psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, and powerful drug cravings. Between drug cravings that compel you to use opioids and the extremely uncomfortable symptoms, many people find that it’s difficult to get through opioid withdrawal without relapsing. 

Demerol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Excessive tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 

Opioids are sometimes grouped with central nervous system depressants because of the way they make you feel sedated and lethargic. But opioids work in the brain differently than depressants and Demerol isn’t as dangerous during withdrawal as things like alcohol and benzodiazepines. Still, if you have a medical condition that would make a regular case of the flu dangerous like a heart condition, opioid withdrawal could cause potentially serious consequences.

What Are the Stages in the Demerol Withdrawal Timeline?

  • 24 hours. Your first symptoms are likely to occur within 24 hours of your last dose. Symptoms will start out mild and may feel like you’re coming down with a cold. You might also start to have cravings and experience psychological symptoms like anxiety and irritability.
  • Five days. Your symptoms will peak within the first five days. That’s when you will experience the most intense symptoms, like body aches, fever, nausea, and vomiting. After your symptoms peak, they will start to disappear. Physical symptoms are usually the first to subside. 
  • 14 days. Some symptoms may linger for another week, especially psychological symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and depression. You may also continue to have powerful cravings to use the drug again.
  • One month. After a month, most of your symptoms will be gone, but some may continue to linger. Some things, like depression and anxiety, may come from underlying issues that need to be addressed and treated. If you developed an addiction, you might need to learn to deal with cravings in addiction treatment.

Why Should I Detox?

Opioids like Demerol aren’t known to be life-threatening during withdrawal, but that doesn’t mean you should go through it on your own. An otherwise healthy individual will have an extremely unpleasant experience during opioid withdrawal, but they will probably not encounter extreme complications. However, it’s possible to become dehydrated quickly because of excessive vomiting, tearing, sweating, and diarrhea. 

In a medical setting, you will be given plenty of fluids to avoid this, and even on your own, you will naturally be compelled to drink water when you’re thirsty. However, if you become too weak or otherwise unable or unwilling to get water when you need it, it could become dangerous. 

Dehydration puts a strain on your body that can lead to heart failure. Still, most instances of fatal opioid withdrawals caused by dehydration occurred in prisons where prisoners were being neglected. Still, it’s safer to go through withdrawal in a detox program. 

More likely than dehydration death is a relapse. If you attempt to go through opioid withdrawal on your own, you are more likely to seek opioids again to relieve your cravings and symptoms. Opioid cravings can be powerful enough to override your will to be sober, especially when you’re also experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. 

Medical detox programs involve 24-hour access to medically managed services. Your safety will be the number one concern, and they can also help to ease your discomfort as much as possible. Opioid withdrawal still isn’t easy, but the safest way to get through it successfully is in a detox program or a hospital setting. 

What is the Next Treatment Step?

Detox is an essential step in addiction recovery, but it’s not the only level of care you need if you’ve become addicted to an opioid. According to NIDA, a week or two in detox usually isn’t enough to effectively treat addiction. After detox, clinicians can help you find the next step in treatment. 

If you still need medical care, you may move on to an inpatient program that involves 24-hour medical monitoring. If you are able to live at home, you may continue on to an intensive outpatient treatment program that involves more than nine hours of treatment per day. If you go through partial hospitalization, you may be in treatment services as much as 20 hours per week. If you only need low levels of care, you may advance to outpatient treatment that involves fewer than nine hours of treatment per week. 

In treatment, you will work with therapists and clinicians to address underlying issues like medical conditions, mental health problems, and social concerns. You will also learn how to cope with stress, emotional triggers, and drug cravings in healthy ways. This can help you safeguard your sobriety for years to come.

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