What is Demerol Addiction?
Demerol is a potent, opiate-based prescription drug that works similarly to morphine, in providing powerful pain relief and sedation. It is most often used to treat moderate to severe pain symptoms associated with childbirth, cancer and heart attacks.
Providing relief within fifteen minutes, Demerol is effective for short-term treatment of acute pain, but it needs to be administered every three to four hours for effective ongoing pain control. Use is not recommended for more than two days, although some physicians may prescribe it considerably longer for post-operative pain relief. Any use that exceeds recommendations, such as for treating chronic pain, will invariably lead to physical dependence, and often to addiction.
Demerol works by forcing chemical-producing brain cells to secrete large amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals, which can induce euphoria when Demerol is used in excess. Chemical imbalances are created, producing tolerance, and forcing the user to take higher, more dangerous doses of Demerol, which can cause the body to suppress respiration to the point of coma and death.
Risks of Demerol Addiction
Demerol is a serious drug that can cause some health risks, such as organ damage due to oxygen deprivation. Studies also indicate that chronic Demerol use increases your chances of developing premature dementia.
Combining Demerol with benzodiazepines or alcohol is particularly dangerous, as it increases the chances of severe respiratory depression. In 2016, there were 63,600 drug overdose fatalities, the majority of which were caused by opiate drugs such as Demerol.
Anyone who’s abused Demerol on a frequent basis has likely experienced persistent urges to keep using the drug over time. Unfortunately, the same mechanisms that work to produce fast and effective pain relief also allow addiction to take root. Demerol addiction creates neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain’s reward center that lead to anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure) and depression.
Side Effects of Demerol Addiction
Unlike most opioids, Demerol does not cause pinpoint pupils. It does, however, cause some other side effects, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low blood pressure
- Respiratory depression
- Dry mouth
- Cloudy thinking
- Lowered level of consciousness
- Involuntary movements
- Dizziness and fainting
- Hallucinations (especially for older individuals)
- Slowed or stopped heartrate
Signs of Demerol Addiction
Over time, the brain comes to rely on Demerol’s presence and effects, while affected cells take on structural damage due to overwork. Damaged cells require increasingly larger amounts of the drug to produce the desired pain-relieving and “high” effect, so the brain’s tolerance for Demerol continues to grow for as long as a person keeps taking the drug. After a certain point, Demerol addiction takes hold as worsening chemical imbalances warp the areas of the brain that regulate thinking, emotions and behaviors.
Other signs of Demerol addiction include:
- Lying about being in pain to get more prescriptions
- Faking or even causing injury to get Demerol
- Going to multiple doctors, clinics, or emergency rooms for drugs
- Lying about how much or how often Demerol is taken
- Organizing life around getting and using drugs
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, fever, agitation, tremors, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, body aches, and insomnia
- Continuing to use Demerol despite experiencing health problems and negative consequences in personal or professional life
What to do if Someone You Love is Abusing Demerol?
If you are concerned that someone you love is addicted to Demerol, reach out to a medical professional or addiction treatment expert to ask for help. Speak openly and honestly with your loved one about their problem, and if you are doing anything to enable their continued drug use, stop immediately. Explain why you can no longer enable your loved one’s drug problem and offer to help them find addiction treatment.
Being specific and exact is always more useful when it comes to conversations about addiction. Discussing specific examples of problem behaviors and negative consequences related to drug use will make it more difficult for your loved one to remain in denial. Also, finding out about treatment options, insurance coverage, payment plans, and rehab facilities available to help your loved one will allow you to quickly get them the help they need the moment that they are ready to accept that help.
An addiction to Demerol will also make your loved one vulnerable to overdose. Call emergency services for immediate medical assistance if you observe signs of a Demerol overdose, which include:
- Shallow breathing, or lack of breathing
- Blue lips and fingernails
- Cold, clammy skin
- Slowed or stopped heartrate
- Excessive drowsiness and nodding off
- Lack of response
Treatment Options Available for Demerol Addiction
Addiction treatment entails a continuum of care made up of different levels or intensities of treatment. Inpatient programs employ the most treatment-intensive level of care, providing medical and psychiatric care on top of addiction treatment, while the patient lives full-time at the facility.
Due to the severity of Demerol addiction, inpatient treatment is advisable in almost all cases. Patients should never abruptly stop taking Demerol and should either be supervised through a slow and careful tapering process or begin pharmaceutical therapy with a medication such as buprenorphine, which will prevent severe withdrawal symptoms and reduce drug cravings. These medications also help balance out brain chemistry so that patients will be more receptive to the other aspects of treatment, such as counseling and behavioral therapy.
By the time a person enters an inpatient Demerol rehab center, he or she is likely in poor physical and psychological health, a condition that only works to aggravate compulsive drug-using behaviors. Herein lies the need for a comprehensive treatment approach.
After inpatient treatment, the patient should step down to an outpatient treatment program for Demerol addiction. Continuity of treatment is essential to ensure a smooth transition from the structure and security of a 24/7 treatment environment back into the outside community. The neurological changes caused by opioid addictions can take months or years to heal, and so treatment should never be abruptly stopped. Furthermore, interventions to improve a patient’s quality of life are needed for long-term success, such as vocational training, job placement assistance, and housing assistance.
Considering the degree of the damage wrought by Demerol addiction, choosing the best Demerol rehab center can mean the difference between a new beginning to a healthy, happy life or a lifetime of repeating bouts with a