Demerol Withdrawal and Detox

Modified: 4th Jul 2019

Last updated on July 4th, 2019 at 02:07 pm

Although Demerol is a prescription medication, those who use this drug are at a high risk for addiction and dependency. 

In cases of Demerol addiction, users must take steps to begin a withdrawal treatment plan as a way to detox your body of this medication. Here we explain more about what to expect during Demerol withdrawal and detox. 

What Causes Demerol Withdrawal?

For those taking Demerol, withdrawal occurs when this drug is suddenly removed from your system. Withdrawal is a sign that your body has adjusted various functions. These adjustments compensate for effects that Demerol has on your central nervous system. 

While you are taking Demerol, the body adjusts itself to maintain stable internal conditions. Maintaining this stability, called homeostasis, forces the body to alter various internal processes. These adjustments accommodate the psychological and physical effects of Demerol. 

As well as blocking the sensation of pain, opioids like Demerol cause a release of dopamine. These large boosts of dopamine are the body’s usual chemical response for reward. As such, this effect sends a rush of pleasure through the body, providing a ‘high’ that makes Demerol highly addictive. 

But, if you stop taking Demerol without a gradual decrease in consumption, this suddenly cuts off the effects on your brain reward system (BRA). By now, the brain has become used to an altered brain chemistry and struggles to readjust back to life without Demerol.  This, in turn, causes negative psychological effects, as well as a range of physical symptoms.  

Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms

Demerol withdrawal can be difficult because of the way it is metabolized by the body. When the body attempts to break down Demerol, the drug converts into a compound called normeperidine, which can be toxic. It also takes much longer to process normeperidine out of the body. 

It takes around two days for the body to process the main ingredient of Demerol, meperidine hydrochloride, out of the body. But, eliminating the metabolite normeperidine takes up to a week. This creates a risk of toxicity and causes a range of severe physical and psychological symptoms. 

Common physical Demerol withdrawal side effects include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Trembling
  • Runny nose 
  • Excessive tears
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Accelerated heart rate

Common psychological Demerol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Also, because of the risk for normeperidine toxicity, Demerol withdrawal symptoms also include:

  • Hallucination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Duration of Demerol Withdrawal

Demerol withdrawal side effects can be extremely intense. But, the severity and duration of this range of symptoms often depend on how the individual used Demerol. 

Demerol Withdrawal Timeline

In most cases, one to two days after the individual stops taking Demerol, they will begin to experience some of the symptoms listed above. Usually, these early withdrawal symptoms include trembling, nausea and restlessness. 

After three days, those going through Demerol withdrawal begin to experience additional symptoms such as pain and insomnia. Symptoms will then hit their peak around five to seven days after discontinuing Demerol use. 

After seven days of withdrawal, the symptoms will slowly begin to taper off. But, for most people, these side effects will last up to 14 days. After two weeks, most people will have passed through their withdrawal symptoms, except for cravings, which will diminish over time with treatment. 

But, this timeline is only a general guide. Each individual going through Demerol withdrawal will have a different experience. Factors such as body composition, sex, overall health and level of abuse all affect the duration and severity of the withdrawal process. 

Detoxing from Demerol on Your Own

It is not advisable to try to detox from Demerol on your own. This is because Demerol withdrawal symptoms can lead to dangerous complications. 

Physical withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. These, in turn, can increase the possibility of heart complications and loss of consciousness. 

In addition, the risk of normeperidine toxicity and the potential risk of seizures makes detoxing from Demerol alone particularly dangerous. 

Another concern when attempting to detox from Demerol alone is the high risk of relapse. Demerol withdrawal can cause so much physical pain and suffering that the individual resumes use in an attempt to feel better. 

Medical Detox for Demerol

medical detox for Demerol means that you will be monitored by a trained medical team throughout the withdrawal process. This reduces your level of suffering, minimizes the possibility of complications, and also makes relapse less likely. 

How Medical Detox Works and What to Expect

A medical detox is designed to treat all aspects of Demerol addiction. These include both the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, as well as the drug dependency itself. 

This combined treatment ensures that your physical suffering and cravings kept to a minimum. As such, you will be better able to overcome your dependency in the long term.  

During the detox, medical staff will be on hand to check your vital signs and ensure you remain comfortable and hydrated throughout the withdrawal process. And, they will give you fluids and appropriate medications if the need arises. This constant monitoring will also reduce the risk of normeperidine toxicity and the potential for complications. 

You will still experience discomfort, pain and psychological symptoms during a medical detox. Your body must pass through these processes in order to readjust back to functioning without Demerol. But, by treating your symptoms and providing maintenance drugs for cravings, the detox process is more likely to be a success.  

Medications Available for Demerol

Medications form a key part of a medical detox from Demerol. These include medications for certain withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, pain and high blood pressure. And, doctors may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to help with psychological withdrawal symptoms. 

Medical detox programs will sometimes use maintenance medications such as buprenorphine. This opioid replacement therapy can help to reduce a person’s dependency via a longer-acting opioid drug. 

Opioid replacement therapy often favors the brand drug Suboxone. This is because of the way it combines buprenorphine and naloxone. The buprenorphine component keeps cravings to a minimum without producing the same ‘high’ as Demerol. And, as an opioid antagonist, naloxone reduces the potential for abuse. 

Seeking Treatment for Demerol Withdrawal

Demerol addiction affects everyone differently. For this reason, it is necessary to follow an individualized withdrawal and recovery plan. 

Going through the Demerol withdrawal process can often be a painful and difficult experience. But, with the support of a specialized medical detox program, you too can overcome Demerol addiction.