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What is Demerol? 

Meperidine is used to ease moderate to severe pain.  It works by altering the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.   Meperidine (Rx) Brand and other names are Demerol, Pethidine, Isonipecaine. Moreover, it is also called meperidine hydrochloride. Unfortunately, meperidine may be habit-forming, especially with prolonged use.  Therefore, your healthcare provider may advise you to undergo a Demerol detox to wean off the drug safely if you have developed a dependency or prescription drug addiction or substance abuse, as it may cause withdrawal symptoms.

Demerol Detox
Drug dependency is a major sign that you may have substance abuse disorder to certain types of drugs such as Demerol.

Demerol belongs to a class of drugs called Synthetic Opioids, Opioid Analgesics. According to the National Institute of Health [1], in 2018, about 11.4 million people used narcotic pain relievers such as Demerol without a prescription. Demerol can cause physical dependence. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Over time, more of the drug is needed for the same effect. This is called drug tolerance. Taking it more often than needed or in higher doses than prescribed may lead to addiction requiring Demerol detox.

Provided that, while taking meperidine, consult your pain treatment goals, period of treatment, and other ways to manage your pain with your healthcare provider.  In addition, tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family:

  • Drinks or has ever drunk high amounts of alcohol
  • Uses or has ever tried street drugs
  • Has had an overdose
  • Has overused prescription drugs
  • If you have or have ever had depression or another mental illness

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Overdose Symptoms may include the following:

  • Slow or Shallow Breathing
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Extreme Sleepiness
  • Unable to Respond or Wake Up
  • Loose, Floppy Muscles
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Slow Heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Side Effects of Demerol

Meperidine may provoke side effects so, it’s best to consult with a medical doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Extreme Calm
  • Mood Changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Pain or Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Dry Mouth
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Changes in Vision

Some side effects can be harsh because of the drug potency.  The following symptoms are rare, but if you encounter any of them or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section of the drug package, seek help immediately:  [2]

  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Shivering
  • Severe Muscle Stiffness or Twitching
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Inability to get or keep an erection
  • Irregular Menstruation
  • Decreased Sexual Desire
  • Slow or Difficult Breathing
  • Shaking hands that you cannot control
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty Urinating
  • Fainting
  • Rash
  • Hives

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Demerol Withdrawal

If you are no longer drawn to treating your pain, you should consult your doctor on ending Demerol treatment and available alternatives.  To emphasize, you should never adjust your dosage levels or treatment schedule without medical approval.  Basically, this means you should never abruptly stop taking Demerol because this can produce distressing withdrawal symptoms.  Typically, doctors will gradually lower a patient’s Demerol dose to give the body sufficient time to adjust to less and less medication.

Withdrawal happens when a physically or psychologically dependent individual stops taking the drug or reduces the amount they take. As their body tries to adjust physiologically to no longer having Demerol in its system, the user will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and agitation.

Demerol detox withdrawal symptoms

Demerol detox withdrawal symptoms are typically moderate to severe and can include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased blood pressure


Demerol users may also experience strong cravings when they first quit the drug, prompting some to begin using again. To reduce the likelihood of relapse, those who are addicted to Demerol should seek the help of a medically-assisted Demerol detox program.

Demerol Detox Withdrawal Timeline and Symptom Durations


There are two phases of withdrawal that a user will experience during Demerol detox. These are acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal symptoms. The acute withdrawal is the first phase and usually occurs during the 3rd and 10th day of your last Demerol dose while the PAWS lasts longer, in some cases as long as 24 months, but the symptoms eventually fade as time passes by [3].

First 24 Hours

This is where irritating symptoms arise such as anxiety, nausea, physical discomfort, and irritability. You may also feel very strong urges which, if not properly addressed, could lead to relapse.

Days 2-5              

Expect your Demerol detox withdrawal symptoms to worsen. Some common symptoms that manifest during this phase are nausea, vomiting, nausea, sweating, and muscle aches.

Days 6-14            

The withdrawal symptoms are fading. The remaining symptoms are not that painful. PAWS is expected to begin during this phase.

Days 15-onwards            

Other symptoms such as depression, mood swings, restlessness, inability to feel pleasure, poor concentration, decreased appetite, agitation, anxiety, lack of motivation and insomnia fade away. The urge to take the drug again may still persist.

Access to Naloxone for Opioid Overdose

To avoid the risk of a life-threatening opioid overdose [4], a medical doctor that you consult with should assess the need for naloxone upon initiating and renewing treatment if you need to.  Basically, they should also consider prescribing naloxone base on:

  • The client’s risk factors for overdose  (e.g., concomitant use of CNS depressants, a history of an opioid use disorder, prior opioid overdose)
  • Household members (including children) or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or overdose

You May Consult the Following with a Medical Doctor or Caregiver:

  • Availability of naloxone for emergency treatment of opioid overdose
  • Ways differ on how to obtain naloxone as permitted by individual state dispensing and prescribing requirements or guidelines  (e.g., by prescription, directly from a pharmacist, as part of a community-based program)

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Addiction, Abuse & Misuse

Demerol tablets and oral solution expose users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, leading to overdose and death.  Therefore, your doctor must assess each of your risks before prescribing DEMEROL Tablets or Oral solutions and monitor you regularly to check if there’s any development of these behaviors and conditions.

Signs of Addiction

The first stage in addiction is when the individual begins using more doses than advised to get high. When this stage happens, it will be a slippery slope toward substance use disorder.  Consequently, the abuse will cause the individual to develop a tolerance in a short period; which will cause them to use higher doses to feel the effect of Demerol.

Tolerance is when your brain adapts to Demerol, and it will not have the same effect as when you first started using it.  Over time, Demerol will continue to lose its effectiveness, and your tolerance will begin to grow into a dependence.  So, as the effect becomes weaker, your desire to use it will continue and worsen.  Finally, once you reach this point, abrupt discontinuance will result in withdrawal.

Addiction is a compulsion to use a substance like Demerol despite the consequences or the harmful effects it can cause to your body, mind, or as a whole person.  Unfortunately, substance use disorder has been breaking families, destroying relationships, and depriving a decent living to people who can’t stop or not getting support and proper care.

Generally, those struggling with the disorder will encounter distorted thoughts, unusual behavior, and uncomfortable bodily functions.

So if Demerol use is causing problems in your life, such as losing your job or harming your relationships and living, and you continue to use, it could be a warning you’ve become addicted to the substance.

Demerol Detox
Drug abuse is medically considered a complex brain disease manifested by compulsive substance use.

Demerol Detox & Addiction Treatment

An approximated seventy-five percent of individuals who abuse heroin started taking prescription opioids, highlighting the dangers of prescriptions.  When you look at these factors, you begin to realize that treatment for Demerol addiction is crucial.  Moreover, opioid addiction has been the leading cause of drug overdose in many users.

The first step in the continuum of care for Demerol addiction is medically- assisted Demerol detox.  Because withdrawal symptoms vary for each person but are distressing in general, medically- assisted Demerol detox is the best process to discontinue the drug.  Given that, Demerol detox is an around-the-clock outlet that will help you wean off the substance safely under the guidance of medical professionals.

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Medically Assisted Demerol Detox

Demerol detox is much like detoxing off other drugs. Your clinician will determine the best way to wean the body off its dependence on the drug in a gradual, phased approach. You may be prescribed medications to help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and a nurse will monitor your progress and make adjustments to your medications as needed. You may also be given NAD+ IV treatments to help boost cellular regeneration, further reduce withdrawal symptoms, and kick-start the recovery process.

During medically- assisted Demerol detox, doctors may taper off your dose of Demerol over a period of weeks. However, it is more common to switch to another, a similar substance, such as Buprenorphine, Suboxone, or Subutex. Either method helps you to reduce withdrawal symptoms and is safer and more comfortable than quitting “cold turkey.” Sometimes, a physician will prescribe you medications to help with the withdrawal process.

Demerol users are advised to consult a doctor before quitting the drug if they have a prescription. Demerol users who do not have a prescription are advised to get an evaluation of whether they should complete withdrawal in a medically-assisted Demerol detox program. Prolonged abuse of Demerol can cause abnormalities and changes in your brain. When these changes occur, it means that you have become reliant on Demerol—you have developed a tolerance, dependence, or even an addiction. Even those who follow a prescription can become dependent on Demerol as well.

Demerol Detox At We Level Up NJ Treatment Center

Once you have stabilized safely into a sober state, a team of clinicians will determine your next step. Secondly, depending on your level of addiction and needs, the staff may prepare for you to be placed into a residential or outpatient treatment center. 

Furthermore, recovery at We Level Up NJ Treatment Center utilizes a multidisciplinary and multidimensional approach.  We incorporate various proven treatments that provide you or your loved one with opportunities for the most optimal treatment outcome: long-term sobriety.

Our treatment focuses on symptom reduction, the development of healthy coping skills, and spiritual growth; for our guests to attain an independent life filled with purpose, health, hope, and fulfillment.  Most importantly, We Level Up NJ also includes evidence-based therapeutic practices and offers support to family members and loved ones, friends, and the community at large.

If you or someone you love is seeking a safe, secure, and compassionate resource for Demerol detox, We Level Up NJ is here for you.  Call us and speak with an addiction counselor today about our levels of care.

demerol detox
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Sources: 

[1] NIH –  https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm

[2] Meperidine – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682117.html Meperidine

[3] SAMHSA – https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma15-4131.pdf

[4] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts#prescription-opioids

[5] We Level UpOpiate Detox & Opioid Detox