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Demerol, the brand name for meperidine, is a narcotic analgesic or pain reliever and synthetic opioid. It is used as a powerful pain reliever when other pain medications are not strong enough to provide relief and opioid treatment is one of the only options. Demerol's most common application is for severe pain relief during labor and childbirth. However, Demerol is also used to manage chronic pain and postoperative pain (after surgery).
Meperidine binds to the mu-opioid receptor in the brain, just like morphine, creating the same toxicities and effects as morphine to provide pain relief.
Hospitals and outpatient clinics do not use Demerol as often as they used to because it is highly addictive to most people, has many instant side effects, and is toxic at high doses. Serious side effects of Demerol include:
Meperidine (Demerol) is an FDA approved prescription drug. It is also a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which is the highest level of drug control within the U.S. with medicinal use as an exception. The federal government tightly regulates the use of Demerol because of its likelihood of being abused or sold on the street for recreational use.
In the mid-nineteen eighties, it became internationally acknowledged in the world of medicine that prolonged Demerol use over several days leads to CNS excitation syndrome, which causes tremors, involuntary muscle jerks, mental confusion, and emotional disruption, and seizures.
Demerol should not be taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs
When opioid medication interacts with several of the other drug types listed below, dangerous side effects, or even death can occur. Before prescribing Demerol, a patient's doctor must assess if the patient has used or is currently using:
It is not recommended for use in pain reduction treatment, except for a few days, because of its highly addictive qualities. Demerol abuse through prolonged usage can quickly lead to drug dependence and tolerance. When this happens, the abuser will need more of the drug to feel its effects. This, in turn, leads to addiction.
It also prompts the need for highly regulated measures by the Federal Government via the DEA and specialized treatment plan from doctors and medical professionals.
Psychological dependence is one of the main signs of opioid use disorder, as are drug cravings and the onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms when the drug wears off. Demerol is commonly abused by swallowing, injecting, smoking, or snorting the drug. On the street, Demerol is called juice, D, dillies, and dust.
Demerol withdrawal includes symptoms like:
Demerol is more addictive than most other opioid drugs. This is because it takes effect quickly but also wears off fast, which increases a person's tolerance level and leads to dependence sooner.
Demerol is appealing to drug users because it interferes with the way dopamine and norepinephrine react in the brain, which increases the "high" users feel. Frequent drug abuse leads to dependence and addiction.
Signs of addiction to Demerol include when an individual:
Addiction negatively impacts an individual's emotional well-being, physical health, friendships and relationships, their families, and economic well-being.
Demerol addiction can be treated with both medical and behavioral therapies. However, it is a combination of these two therapies, plus lifestyle changes created through support groups and 12-step programs, that yield the most recovery success.
Medical detox safely removes the drug from the body while minimizing opioid withdrawal symptoms typically by drug replacement and reduction therapy. Patients under detox must attend either an outpatient or residential treatment program (inpatient) that includes behavioral therapies like:
However, behavioral therapies on their own are the most widely accepted forms of treatment for an opioid use disorder. Individuals in either a residential program or an outpatient program benefit from group and individual sessions. During these sessions, people learn new methods for managing stress, coping with emotions, and also develop new life skills along the way.
There are many types of behavioral therapies. The most common ones include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI).
CBT helps people to alter patterns of thought that could lead to negative behaviors. CBT can help to improve self-image and change patterns of detrimental behaviors. MI is a non-confrontational and nonjudgmental form of therapy. MI focuses on helping patients acknowledge the need for change from within themselves and helps to enhance their motivation to do so.
Individuals learn how to control their impulses, anger, and cope with potential stressors through both of these behavioral therapies.
Other Peer supported and 12-Step programs, like Narcotics Anonymous, will also aid in an individual's recovery. They also provide patients with a group of likeminded people with similar addiction experiences and goals of sobriety create substantial treatment success.
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“Meperidine.” St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, www.stjude.org/treatment/patient-resources/caregiver-resources/medicines/a-z-list-of-medicines/meperidine.html
“Meperidine.” Meperidine | Michigan Medicine, www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/d00017a1
“Narcotics for Pain During Labor: Types & Side Effects.” American Pregnancy Association, 13 Oct. 2019, americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/narcotics/
Weissman, David E. “Meperidine For Pain: What's All The Fuss?” Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin, www.mypcnow.org/fast-fact/meperidine-for-pain-whats-all-the-fuss/