Demerol Withdrawal and Detox

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Demerol (meperidine) is a prescription pain medicine mostly used for pain management but for chronic pain. It can be given for moderate to severe pain, such as after surgery. It belongs in a class of medications called opiate analgesics. It works by changing the way the central nervous system (CNS) and brain respond to pain. It comes in a tablet or liquid taken by mouth. 

Another form of the medication is injected. It is meant to be taken every three to four hours. If Demerol is taken for longer than a few weeks, it is vital to be tapered off the drug slowly. If it is stopped being taken suddenly, the person taking it will feel withdrawal symptoms.

Opioids, such as Demerol, are capable of causing chemical dependence, addiction, and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Demerol is a potent narcotic drug that your brain and body can become used to, causing it to alter brain chemistry. When this occurs, chemical dependency is in place. When an individual tries to stop using the drug abruptly, they will experience disagreeable withdrawal symptoms.

Demerol withdrawal symptoms are usually life-threatening but are not comfortable. The safest way to stop using opioids is in detox. Detox is the process the body goes through to rid itself of all the toxins in it. When detox happens in a detox center, the individual is supervised around the clock by medical personnel to ensure the person does not become dehydrated, and their other symptoms, physical and psychological, are tended to with care and dignity.

Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms

As mentioned, when a person stops using Demerol or any opioid suddenly, they are bound to feel some of the symptoms below. As such, they are broken down into two stages: early and late:

Early Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Increased tearing

The later stage of Demerol withdrawal might include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Goosebumps
  • Dilated pupils

While these symptoms are not likely to be very dangerous, they can be debilitating if not treated as they occur. Medical detox is the best place to undergo opioid and Demerol detox as the above-mentioned symptoms will be treated to ensure the individual is as comfortable as possible.

How Long Do Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Every person who is undergoing Demerol withdrawal will have a different experience than another. Mild users of the drug will have an easier time than those who are heavy users of Demerol.  How long the symptoms last depends on several factors:

  • The person’s age
  • Overall physical health
  • Mental health of the person
  • The last dose of the drug taken
  • How often the drug was taken
  • History and severity of addiction of the person
  • History of relapse
  • Method of ingestion
  • Metabolism
  • Support system
  • Taper schedule

Usually, the withdrawal symptoms will feel like the flu and may begin in as little as 24 hours after the last dose is taken. Individuals who are heavier users of Demerol could start feeling the symptoms in about four to six hours after the last dose. Symptoms usually peak around day three or four. Most symptoms dissipate within a week’s time.

A general withdrawal timeframe for Demerol could look like this:

Day 1 – You may start to feel like you are coming down with the flu and have body aches. You also may have a runny nose, be sweating, or yawning all the time, have a mild fever, and perhaps feel anxious.

Days 2-5 – Symptoms will most likely peak during this time and be at their worst. The most commonly reported are agitation, anxiety, chills, sweating, body aches, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, insomnia, and cravings. It is smart to have steady support during this time, as the symptoms will compel you to relapse to ease your discomfort.

Days 6 and onward – As you hit days six or seven, most of the physical symptoms will have subsided. If you misused Demerol heavily, your withdrawal symptoms might linger for a while longer and include strong cravings, fatigue, and depression.

It is essential to note that when tapering off Demerol, withdrawal symptoms could peak each time the dose is lowered. Nonetheless, the lower the dose, the less intense your symptoms will be.

demerol-withdrawal

Why You Need Medical Detox

When an individual becomes dependent or addicted to a drug, the first step in ending the dependency or addiction is to go through detox. As mentioned previously, detox is the process the body goes through to get rid of all the toxins in it, including Demerol and any other harmful toxins. Medical detox is the best and safest way to go through this process.

One should never try to detox at home cold turkey because it could be dangerous. In medical detox, the physician in charge will start lowering the dose gradually over time, which is called tapering. Your body will start dealing with withdrawal symptoms slowly and adjust each time the dose is lowered.

Medical personnel might administer specific medications, such as Suboxone, to help you manage opioid addiction. Other drugs include Subuxtex and medication to ease dehydration from diarrhea, medication to ease nausea, and others.

Demerol Detox Medications

There are a few medications that can help pull a person through Demerol withdrawal and detox. Two of the more common are Subutex and Suboxone, which are opioids also but block the euphoric effects that Demerol users feel.

Subutex

Subutex is the brand-name medication for buprenorphine. It comes in a sublingual tablet that is dissolved under the tongue. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Subutex alongside Suboxone in 2002. Subutex is mainly used to treat opioid addiction and dependence.

Subutex effects in the body last for 24 hours. This medication was not meant to treat pain and is not prescribed any longer. Suboxone replaced it.

Suboxone

Suboxone is a sublingual medication that is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is prescribed to treat opioid dependence and addiction. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, and Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist which blocks the euphoric effects of opioids, like Demerol. Buprenorphine, an opioid, has some pain-relieving effects. Naloxone blocks opioid receptors in the brain and cannot cause a person to get “high.”

Other Detox Medications

Oher detox medications that may be given will likely treat withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and others.

Can You Quit Demerol Cold Turkey?

As mentioned above, quitting Demerol cold turkey is to be avoided due to the possibility of harmful effects to the body. Quitting Demerol cold turkey without tapering off the drug can lead to feeling very intense withdrawal symptoms, which often cause people to use the drug again. Medically supervised detox is the safest and most comfortable method to go through withdrawal as both physical and psychological symptoms are cared for.

Are There Home Remedies for Demerol Withdrawal?

Opioids can cause stubborn constipation, and opioid withdrawal can cause severe dehydration. While medically supervised detox is strongly encouraged, some people may feel like they’d rather do it at home.  There are some home remedies that might be useful in easing withdrawal symptoms, as noted by Healthline.

Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration. If staying home is what is preferred, it is best to obtain several weeks of supply in over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, like electrolyte replacement drinks, anti-nausea medicines, and OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (ibuprofen).

Diarrhea can be relieved with loperamide (Imodium), nausea can be relieved with meclizine (Antivert or Bonine) or with dimenhydrinate (Dramamine). Always follow the directions on the containers and do not use them in larger doses or for longer than it indicates.

Before trying to detox from Demerol at home, stock up on the above medicines to have them available when needed.

Can Demerol Be Reversed?

Naloxone is a drug used to reverse the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. It blocks the effects of opioids to relieve the dangerous symptoms of higher levels of opiates in the blood. The prescribing doctor or pharmacist can show you how to use naloxone. 

Naloxone is the first step in treating an opioid overdose. After it is administered, someone needs to call emergency services. Overdose symptoms may return within a few minutes after getting Naloxone. Overdose symptoms include slow or shallow or difficult breathing, unable to respond or wake up, cold and clammy skin, slow heartbeat, fainting, dizziness, nausea, and blurred vision. Naloxone is the antidote for Demerol overdose.

Demerol Abuse Statistics

There were 70,630 overdose deaths related to opioids in 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that there were 14,139 prescription opioid drug deaths from 2017 to 2019.

11.4 million Americans misused prescription pain medications in 2016 and 2017, as noted by the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sources

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, February 15) MedlinePlus. Meperidine. from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682117.html

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, May 10) MedlinePlus. Opiate and opioid withdrawal. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm

Drugs.com. (2021, January 17) Subutex. from https://www.drugs.com/cdi/subutex.html

RxList.com. (2020, July 14) Suboxone. from https://www.rxlist.com/suboxone-drug.htm

Healthline. (2019, March 7) Home Remedies to Ease Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms. Case-Lo, C. from https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-opiate-withdrawal

U.S. Library of Medicine. (2021, February 15) MedlinePlus. Meperidine. In case of emergency/overdose. from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682117.html

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid Overdose. Publications & Features. Trends and Geographic Patterns in Drug and Synthetic Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2013–2019: MMWR. from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pubs/index.html#tabs-760094-4

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Overdose Death Rates. Figure 4. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

SAMHSA. (2016) Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States:Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Ahrnsbrak, R. , et. al. from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.pdf

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