Understanding Demerol Addiction and Finding Treatment

Demerol addiction can lead to social, physical, and emotional repercussions. If you or a loved one need help with Demerol addiction, read on to learn more.

What is Demerol?

Demerol is the brand name for meperidine, which is an opioid analgesic (pain medication) similar in effect to morphine. Like other opioids, it works on certain centers in the brain to give you pain relief. However, it can also cause Demerol addiction.1

Meperidine is used for short-term pain management. Due to its specific pharmacological properties, it is not recommended for chronic pain or long-term use, as it has a high addiction potential.

demerol addiction

Common Side Effects

As with other opioids, meperidine can have side effects that include:As with other opioids, meperidine can have side effects that include:2

  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoria or an unusually good feeling
  • Itching or rash

Serious Side Effects

There are also more serious side effects of Demerol addiction to be aware of, such as:
  • Respiratory depression
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Confusion or mental status changes
  • Hallucinations
  • Allergic reactions
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Seizures
  • Dependency and addiction
  • Misuse and overdose.

Metabolite Concerns

One of the reasons meperidine is not recommended for long-term use is due to the production of a metabolite called normeperidine. This metabolite can accumulate with repeated use and may lead to seizures.


Demerol can interact with various other medications, especially those that also depress the central nervous system. This includes substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, other opioids, and certain antihistamines.

Risk of Withdrawal Symptoms

As with other opioid medications, if someone has been on meperidine for an extended period, it shouldn’t be stopped suddenly due to the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

How Demerol Functions as a Pain Reliever

Demerol functions as a pain reliever by acting on the central nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord. Like other opioids, its analgesic effects are primarily due to its interaction with the mu-opioid receptors.
This binding changes both the perception of along with the emotional response to pain. When pain signals are transmitted from injured tissues to the spinal cord and then to the brain, they are passed along by a series of neurotransmitters and neural pathways.
Opioids like meperidine decrease the release of neurotransmitters in response to incoming pain signals. This means fewer pain signals are transmitted to the brain, reducing the perception of pain.

What Else Does Demerol Do?

Beyond just reducing the transmission of pain signals, opioids also act on the brain’s limbic system. This system is responsible for emotional responses.
This action can produce feelings of pleasure or euphoria in some people, which is one of the reasons opioids have a potential for misuse and addiction.
The body naturally produces endorphins, which are chemicals that reduce pain and produce feelings of well-being. Opioids can increase the release of these endorphins.

Recreational Misuses of Demerol

Like many opioids, Demerol has the potential for recreational misuse and addiction. Demerol is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for misuse without many medical benefits. However, misuse of Demerol can be dangerous and carries significant risks.


When taken in doses higher than medically recommended or through methods not intended (like crushing and snorting pills), opioids can produce a “high” or euphoria. This sensation can contribute to Demerol addiction.


With regular use, a person may need increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects. This is called tolerance. Needing more of the drug can lead to increased risks of overdose and other adverse effects.


Over time, the body may come to rely on the drug to function normally. This can lead to physical and mental dependence, where a person may experience withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not taken.

How Demerol Addiction Can Affect You

Demerol addiction is a serious risk. It is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. Individuals may continue using the drug despite knowing it’s causing harm.

Demerol Addiction Compared to Addiction to Other Opioids

Demerol addiction, like addiction to other opioids, often leads to a cycle of use and dependency. However, there are distinct differences in the pharmacological properties and clinical use patterns of Demerol compared to other opioids.

For instance, Demerol has a relatively short duration of action, which might necessitate more frequent dosing, potentially accelerating the onset of dependency in some users.

While opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin have been more frequently associated with widespread use and overdose crises in various regions, the risks associated with Demerol misuse, such as its unique side effects and potential for addiction, make it a concern in its own right.

How to Heal From Demerol Addiction

As with all opioids, the potential for addiction showcases the need for careful prescription practices, patient education, and monitoring. Vista Taos can help individuals work through and heal from opioid addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Demerol Addiction

There are multiple signs and symptoms of Demerol addiction to be aware of. These can include:

Behavioral Changes

These changes often look like increased secrecy, withdrawing from family or friends, or changes in social circles. Some people may also start neglecting responsibilities at work or home.

Increased Usage

Increased usage is when an individual starts taking larger amounts of Demerol than intended or using it over a longer period than intended.

Failed Attempts to Cut Down

Failed attempts to stop using Demerol can also be a sign of Demerol addiction.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

In addition to the above mentioned symptoms of Demerol use, there may be a presence of withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug.

These can include:
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Insomnia

Increased Time Spent Obtaining or Using the Substance

A significant amount of time is often spent trying to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of Demerol.

Continued Use Despite Knowledge of Harm

Another sign of Demerol addiction is the continuation of Demerol use despite knowing it is causing or exacerbating physical or psychological issues.

What Factors Contribute to the Development of Demerol Addiction?

The development of addiction to substances like Demerol is multifaceted and involves a combination of biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors.
Here’s a breakdown of some of these factors:

Brain Chemistry

Opioids like Demerol work by binding to specific receptors in the brain, leading to a release of dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward, and euphoria.

Over time, with chronic use, the brain may come to rely on the drug to release dopamine, which can contribute to the development of addiction.3


Some studies suggest that individuals may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible to opioid addiction. This doesn’t mean they will necessarily develop an addiction, but they might be at a higher risk when exposed to opioids or other substances.

Mental Health

Individuals with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health disorders may be at a higher risk of developing an opioid addiction. This is especially true if they use the drug as a way to self-medicate or cope with their symptoms.

Peer Pressure

Being in an environment where drug use is frequent and normalized can contribute to initiation and continued use.

Early Use

Starting to use drugs at a younger age can increase the risk of developing an addiction later in life.

Method of Administration

The way Demerol is taken can influence its addictive potential. For example, crushing and snorting or injecting the drug can produce a faster, more intense high. This can increase the risk of addiction.

Chronic Pain

Patients who are prescribed opioids like Demerol for chronic pain management may be at risk of developing Demerol addiction, especially if the pain persists and there’s a lack of alternative treatments or close monitoring.

Lack of Knowledge

Not being aware of the addictive potential of Demerol and not being educated about proper usage can lead to overuse and eventual addiction. This is why educational programs in treatment centers are imperative for health.


Growing up in an environment where drug use is frequent can increase the risk of addiction. Also, individuals exposed to trauma may be more likely to turn to substances.

Societal and Cultural Factors

Societal norms, stigma around drug use or addiction, and policies around drug prescription and regulation can all play roles in the prevalence of addiction in a community.

Importance of Recognizing Factors Contributing to Demerol Misuse

Addiction is complex. Often, a combination of these factors, rather than any single one, contributes to its development. Recognizing these factors can be crucial in prevention, early intervention, and treatment strategies.

Demerol Addiction Treatment Options

The treatment of Demerol addiction or opioid use disorder often involves a combination of medical, psychological, and social interventions. A multifaceted approach is essential to address the complex nature of addiction.
Here are the primary treatment options available:


This is the initial phase of treatment, where the drug is eliminated from the body. Medical supervision is crucial during this stage, as withdrawal from opioids can be uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. Clinicians may use medications to manage and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat opioid addiction. Some people may need added assistance from medication during the detox process.

Some commonly used medications include:
  • Methadone: This is a long-acting opioid that’s administered under tight regulation. It can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing the euphoria associated with Demerol.
  • Buprenorphine: This is a partial opioid agonist that can decrease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of its ceiling effect, the risk of misuse and side effects is lower than methadone.
  • Naltrexone: This is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids. It can prevent relapse by ensuring that if someone uses an opioid, they don’t experience the associated euphoria.

Behavioral Therapies

These are essential components of opioid addiction treatment and can be delivered in outpatient and inpatient settings.
Some examples include:4
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with situations where they might be tempted to use drugs.
  • Contingency Management: This uses positive reinforcement to encourage sobriety.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy: This helps individuals resolve their ambivalence about treatment and stopping drug use.
  • 12-Step Facilitation Therapy: This is designed to encourage engagement in 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment

These programs provide a structured environment away from drug-using environments, with 24/7 care, therapy, support, and medical supervision.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

This is when patients live at home and attend treatment sessions at a facility several times a week.

Support Groups

Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can offer peer support for individuals in recovery. They provide a community of individuals who understand the challenges of addiction and can offer encouragement, understanding, and advice.

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

Continual engagement in therapy or support groups after initial treatment can help prevent relapse. Creating a stable environment, developing coping skills, and building a supportive network are critical in long-term recovery.

Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders

Many individuals with an opioid addiction may also have co-occurring mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Addressing these in tandem with addiction can improve the chances of sustained recovery.

How Can Vista Taos Help?

demerol addiction

Vista Taos is a recognized New Mexico addiction treatment center known for our holistic and personalized approach to substance use disorder recovery.

For individuals struggling with Demerol addiction, our highly skilled staff at Vista Taos provides a comprehensive treatment program that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

What Do We Offer?

Our center combines medically supervised detoxification to safely manage withdrawal symptoms with therapy sessions, both group and individual, to address the underlying emotional and psychological triggers of addiction.

Additionally, our holistic approach incorporates healing practices like meditation and yoga. This ensures that all facets of an individual’s well-being are nurtured.

Get in Touch Today

With a dedicated team of professionals and a serene environment conducive to recovery, Vista Taos can provide the tools and support necessary for individuals to overcome Demerol addiction and rebuild their lives.

We will work with you every step of the way during healing. Reach out to our team today.

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Ready to Renew Your Life and Well-Being?

Reach out to Vista Taos Renewal Center today and let us guide you toward sustainable recovery. We will help you heal from the addictions and substance use challenges that hinder you from leading your most fulfilled life through personalized, whole-person treatment.