Choosing the Best Inpatient Meperidine Addiction Rehab Centers

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 05/2/2022

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Meperidine, also known as pethidine or by its brand name Demerol, is an opioid painkiller. Like other opioids used to manage pain, this medication has a propensity for being misused and is addictive, which in many cases, can result in the need to seek inpatient meperidine addiction rehab. Because this medication has a rapid onset of action, this makes it more prone to misuse than other opioids.1,2

In this article:

What Is Meperidine?

When compared to other opioids, meperidine has very few advantages and actually has several more disadvantages.1 The major disadvantages include limited potency, short duration of action, and a long half-life that is accompanied by the production of a neurotoxic metabolite called normeperidine.1 The exceedingly deceptive issue with normeperidine is that, in many cases, it is more specifically detrimental to older adults because they are more sensitive to meperidine’s side effects, which can result in significantly diminished renal functioning.2

Because of its unique characteristics, it is frequently underdosed and, therefore, prescribed for longer intervals than its duration of action, resulting in poor pain control.2

Meperidine lasts only 2-5 hours, but normeperidine is a byproduct of its metabolization.2 Normeperidine is a neurotoxic metabolite that becomes problematic because its half-life is 15-30 hours.2 This gap between the half-life of the medication and the half-life of the neurotoxic metabolite creates a clinical dilemma whereby frequently dosing to adequately manage pain then produces an accumulation of the normeperidine, which can cause harmful consequences, such as:2,3

  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Serotonin syndrome (a dangerous build-up of high levels of serotonin)
  • Fibrous myopathy (fibrous connective tissue replaces muscle fiber, which creates a fibrous, dense band within the muscle)

Why Is Meperidine Addictive?

Meperidine is a Schedule II substance controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for misuse, dependence, and addiction.sup>3,4

Meripidine is so addictive because it binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, resulting in pain relief and feelings of pleasure and reward. The brain “remembers” this euphoric feeling, which tends to be more powerful than natural rewards like eating and spending time with loved ones, and wants to experience it again. As such, a person may crave meperidine or other opioids to experience these pleasurable effects.

Over time, the brain adapts to the presence of the drug, which means the person will need higher doses to feel the desired effects. This is known as tolerance, and as someone increases their dose, they can develop a physiological dependence, which means they need meperidine to function optimally and avoid withdrawal symptoms. In an attempt to avoid or alleviate meperidine withdrawal symptoms, a person may compulsively seek out the drug, leading to an addiction, which involves uncontrollable use regardless of negative consequences.

Why Does Meperidine Addiction Require Intensive Treatment?

The first step of meperidine addiction treatment is medical detox, which involves a set of interventions aimed at managing meperidine withdrawal symptoms, clearing drugs from the body, and achieving medical stability. Medical detox is most often completed in an inpatient, hospital setting in which the patient can receive 24/7 medical care, oversight, and supervision to ensure their safety and comfort during this trying time.

Meperidine withdrawal symptoms can be extremely severe and distressing, which is why intensive medical detox is often the best route. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends inpatient medical detox for opioid withdrawal due to “principles of safety and humanitarian concerns.”6

Meperidine withdrawal symptoms and signs may include:6

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Hypertension
  • High body temperature
  • Rapid pulse
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tearing eyes and runny nose
  • Excessive yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Abnormally heightened reflexes
  • Profound sweating
  • Goose bumps
  • Increased respiratory rate

Although none of these withdrawal symptoms are life-threatening in and of themselves, they can become so distressing and painful that a person returns to opioid use to relieve them. Also, excessive vomiting and diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can lead to further health complications. As such, an intensive inpatient detox program is often necessary to manage meperidine withdrawal.

Because detox is not a substitute for comprehensive opioid addiction treatment, it is just the first step on the continuum of care. Once an individual has completed detox, they will need to attend an intensive inpatient program that offers a variety of therapeutic interventions intended to help promote lasting behavioral change. Because meperidine is so addictive, it may be best to receive care in an inpatient facility, which offers round-the-clock treatment.

Meperidine withdrawal symptoms can be extremely severe and distressing, which is why intensive medical detox is often the best route. Medical detox is most often completed in an inpatient, hospital setting in which the patient can receive 24/7 medical care, oversight, and supervision to ensure their safety and comfort during this trying time.

What Role Does Inpatient Meperidine Addiction Rehab Play in Recovery?

Inpatient treatment is a structured, safe environment whereby you can learn more effective coping strategies through behavioral treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectic behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), trauma therapy such as eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), CBT with exposure, group therapy, or family therapy.7,8,9,10,11,12,13

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy will teach you about the interconnectedness between emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and how these bidirectional relationships feed into maladaptive behaviors and distressing thoughts and emotions. It is effective across age, socioeconomic status, education levels, and cultures and can be adapted to individual or group formats.7

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

A derivative of CBT, dialectical behavior therapy is effective in treating those who are dually diagnosed with different mental health disorders and substance use disorders who are at high risk.8 It specializes in treating those who are highly reactive and who have severe, pervasive emotional dysregulation issues by teaching problem-solving strategies to help you de-escalate yourself and more effectively respond at the moment.8

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

A mindfulness approach, ACT’s foundation is based on action, present, self, defusion, and acceptance to increase cognitive flexibility. It focuses on changing your relationships to life events and has positive outcomes across a broad range of diagnoses and problems.9

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Cognitive Processing Therapy

These therapies can help you reprocess traumatic memories into a narrative that is more representative of reality while simultaneously exposing you to certain elements of the trauma in a controlled setting (e.g., therapy office). This can help you begin to understand the circumstances under which the trauma occurred and integrate coping skills while being triggered by thoughts or emotions that cause distress.10,11

Group Therapy

Group therapy is economical and curative because some of the benefits, such as support and peer confrontation, cannot be experienced during individual therapy because they help clients commit to a culture of recovery. Treating shame, depression, isolation, and other issues associated with substance use disorder can happen with group therapy.12

Family Therapy

Family therapy educates you and your family that the family is a system whose interrelated parts influence one another through support systems, treatment engagement outcomes, and recovery for all members involved. When combined, substance use treatment and family therapy leverage important roles each family member play while helping you address issues associated with your substance use. This can include how substance use disorders affect you as an individual, how family members adjust or change specific behaviors when responding to a family member who has a substance use disorder, and how you as the individual with a substance use disorder can make changes within yourself as well as in relation to your family members.13

How Can I Find Inpatient Meperidine Addiction Rehab?

If you are struggling with meperidine addiction, attempting to move forward can feel unbearable and can be difficult. Sometimes getting yourself through the first step of the process, receiving a referral to treatment, can be helpful. You have several options to access treatment, including:14

  • Search on the internet
  • Ask a social worker at a hospital or even a rehabilitation center
  • Get a referral from medical staff or a therapist
  • Contact your insurance provider
  • Ask members of your support system

Sometimes, you may already have the referral or have access, but you are uncertain as to which types of professionals are best suited to assist in these situations or which types of professionals you will have contact with once admitted into an inpatient facility. Professionals in these settings may include:14,15

  • A psychiatrist or even a psychiatrist that specializes in addiction medicine or pain management
  • Licensed clinicians (psychologists, LMFTs, LCSWs, or LPCCs)
  • Your primary care physician
  • Nurses
  • Nurse educators
  • Social workers
  • Substance use counselors

Call our confidential helpline at (800) 662-HELP (4357) to find an inpatient meperidine addiction rehab near you. You can talk to a treatment specialist to discuss available meperidine treatment options.


  1. Friesen, K.J., Falk, J. & Bugden, S. (2016). The Safety of Meperidine Prescribing in Older Adults: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study. BMC Geriatrics, 16(100), 1-7.
  2. Clubb, B., Loveday., W., Ballantyne, S. (2013). Meperidine: A Continuing Problem. Substance Abuse: Research & Treatment, 7, 127–129.
  3. Yasaei, R., Rosani, A., & Saadabadi, A.(2021, September 14). Meperidine.
  4. National Library of Medicine. (2022). Meperidine.
  5. Tinoco-Gonzalez, J. (2018). Iatrogenic Addiction Caused by Meperidine. International Archives of Addiction Research and Medicine, 4(1), 1-3.
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
  7. American Psychological Association. (2017). What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
  8. Linehan, M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets.
  9. Hayes, S.C., Pisterillo, J., & Levin, M.E. (2012). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a Unified Model of Behavior Change. The Counseling Psychologist, 40(7), 976-1002.
  10. Oren, E. and Solomon, R.M. (2012). EMDR Therapy: An Overview of its Development and Mechanisms of Action. European Review of Applied Psychology, 62(4), 197-203.
  11. National Center for PTSD. (2014). Cognitive Processing Therapy: Veteran/Military Version: Therapist and Patient Materials Manual.
  12. Coco, G.L., Melchiori, F.M., Oieni, V. & Infurna, M.R.. (2019). Group Treatment for Substance Use Disorder in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized-Controlled Trials. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 99, 104-116.
  13. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Family Therapy.
  14. American Psychological Association. (2022). Johnson Intervention.
  15. Lesser, B. (2021). A Comprehensive Guide to Johnson Treatment Model.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on

All calls are private and confidential.