Demerol is a prescription opioid used to relieve pain symptoms after surgery, injuries, or chronic pain. However, like other opioids, Demerol can produce powerful euphoric effects that can cause serious addiction and substance use disorders.
The United States is currently going through an epidemic of overdose and addiction, and opioids are largely to blame. The amount of prescribed opioids has quadrupled between 1999 to 2014. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this increase doesn’t seem to be related to an increase in the amount of pain Americans are experiencing.
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Plus, illicit opioids have flooded the black market, making heroin and other opioids the most easily obtainable illicit drugs after marijuana. In many cases, addiction to prescription opioids like Demerol leads to the use of cheaper, more dangerous black market alternatives like heroin.
Addiction is a serious, chronic disease that can be difficult to overcome on your own. However, it often comes with a variety of signs that let you know a substance use disorder might be around the corner. Learning the signs of Demerol addiction can help you avoid some of the most severe consequences of addiction like infectious diseases, overdose, and its overall impact on your life.
Demerol addiction can also be treated with therapies and help from professional. Learn more about Demerol addiction, its telltale signs, and how it can be treated.
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What Is Demerol?
Demerol is the brand name for a drug called pethidine, which is a prescription painkiller in the opioid class of drugs. It’s used to treat pain in medical settings, and it’s most commonly used as a way to manage pain during labor.
Opioids like Demerol work by binding to specific opioid receptors in the brain. Those receptors are responsible for mitigating the pain response you experience when something damages your body. They are normally activated by naturally occurring endorphins, but opioids can create much more profound results than your bodies own chemicals.
Opioids can create powerful feelings of warmth, relaxation, and euphoria which gives them a high addiction risk. Demerol is said to be less likely to cause addiction than other opioids.
Plus, it’s prescribed for labor, a specific medical procedure. This makes it less likely to be a drug of abuse than something like oxycodone, which patients often take home with them to manage pain. Still, Demerol can be addictive if it’s abused, especially when it’s sold illegally on the black market. Demerol also has a faster onset of action than morphine, which is part of what makes it useful as a labor pain treatment, since it can act quickly as a response to unpredictable labor.
What Are the Signs of Demerol Addiction?
If you’ve used Demerol and you are worried that you might be developing a substance use disorder, knowing the signs of addiction can reveal what you might be dealing with and when to seek help. Addiction often starts with abuse, which is when you use excessively high doses of a drug, use a drug that’s not prescribed to you, or use a drug for the purpose of getting high. Abuse can lead to tolerance and chemical dependency after a short period of consistent use.
Tolerance occurs when your brain begins to adapt to the presence of Demerol in your system. To you, this will feel like the drug is getting weaker. The longer you use, the less effective a normal dose will be. After a while, tolerance can turn to dependence. A normal dose may be getting weaker, but your need for it isn’t. If you try to stop using, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Addiction is characterized by compulsions to use despite clear consequences. For instance, if substance use is interfering with your work, and it causes you to lose your job, but you still continue to use, it could mean you are addicted.
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What Is Involved in Demerol Addiction Treatment?
Addiction is a complex disease, and it needs more than just your own strength of will to overcome. In some cases, addiction can require a lifelong process to maintain recovery. But with a foundation of relapse prevention strategies, you can live a life free from active addiction.
In most cases, addiction treatment starts with medical detoxification. Opioids aren’t typically dangerous during the withdrawal process. Symptoms are similar to the flu and involve nausea, vomiting, sweating, fever, and diarrhea. In some cases, these symptoms can cause serious dehydration which can lead to medical complications and death. Still, opioid withdrawal isn’t as dangerous as alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal, but it is extremely uncomfortable.
Going through it alone is likely to lead to relapse or continued use. In medical detox, your symptoms will be managed, and you will be monitored for any potential medical complications. If you have other medical issues, like an injury or disease that needs immediate treatment, you can be treated in medical detox.
After detox, clinicians can help you find the treatment that’s right for you. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment needs to be personalized for each client to be effective. Because there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, clinicians will help connect you to a treatment program that is equipped to handle your specific needs.
For people with pressing medical or psychological needs that require more intensive care, inpatient services provide 24 hours of medical monitoring every day. If you don’t have serious medical needs, but you are likely to relapse, or if you don’t have housing that will help you during your recovery, you can be placed in residential services. You will still have 24-hour access to care but in a more home-like setting than a medical facility.
Intensive outpatient (IOP) services are usually the longest part of addiction treatment. In IOP, you will live on your own but spend more than nine hours each week on clinical services. Here, you may be involved with individual and group therapy, family therapy, and a range of cognitive behavioral therapies, designed to meet multiple needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most popular options in addiction treatment. It’s designed to help address how your thoughts and coping responses lead to relapse or continued recovery. This is one of the most helpful therapies when it comes to developing a relapse prevention strategy.
Outpatient treatment is the lowest level of therapy and involves fewer than nine hours in clinical services each week. In it, you will continue to learn relapse prevention techniques and other things you might engage within IOP, but you will spend more time living independently. This gives you a chance to address some of the issues you might encounter returning to regular life.
After formal addiction treatment, clinicians can connect you to aftercare services like community resources that continue to help you in your recovery.
How Dangerous is Demerol?
Demerol has fallen out of regular use in the United States because it reacts poorly with other medications. It also breaks down into a substance called norpethidine which can damage your brain or nervous system. However, it’s still widely used in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Opioids have claimed the lives of thousands of people every year because of fatal overdose. Opioid addiction often leads to heroin use, when prescriptions become too expensive to maintain. Street heroin is unpredictable. Pure heroin can only cause mild adverse effects when it’s used in safe doses. However, illicit heroin is rarely pure and can contain a variety of adulterants including fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid. Fentanyl is added to heroin because it’s cheap and ostensibly improves the quality of the drug to a buyer. However, it can often lead to a fatal overdose.
During an overdose, opioids can cause respiratory depression, which means your breathing starts to slow down or stop altogether. This can lead to brain damage, coma, and death without immediate intervention.
Demerol Abuse Statistics
- 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day.
- 66 percent of overdose deaths involve opioids.
- 2 million people struggle with opioid use disorders involving drugs like Demerol.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with Demerol addiction, or a substance abuse disorder involving any other opioids, there is help available to get you on the road to recovery.
Speak to an addiction specialist at Pathway to Hope to learn more about addiction treatment and the therapy options that might be right for you. Call 844-311-5781 to explore your options and start the road to recovery today.