The painkiller meperidine, if used as intended under the observation of a medical professional, can be a relief for patients struggling with severe pain. However, when meperidine hydrochloride is abused and an addiction develops, the outcome can be physically and psychologically devastating. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to the painkiller meperidine, don’t hesitate to get help, as even a short delay in treatment can have potentially life-threatening consequences. Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to discuss your meperidine treatment options with a knowledgeable addiction recovery counselor. With the help of a professional treatment facility, you can overcome your meperidine addiction and get a fresh start in life.
What is Meperidine?
Meperidine hydrochloride is the generic name for the prescription narcotic Demerol, which is commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain associated with cancer, severe accidents, heart attacks and childbirth, with narcotic effects similar to oxycodone or morphine. The drug comes in several different forms, including as an injectable solution administered by medical professionals, or, in oral form, as a syrup or in 50mg or 100mg tablets. Meperidine 50mg or 100mg tablets have been reported as being abused by chewing, crushing, snorting or injecting the dissolved drug, which can intensify its effects. Meperidine is rarely prescribed outside of a hospital setting, but people who abuse meperidine recreationally may buy it on the street under the names “Juice,” “Dust”, “D” or “Dillies.”
How Does Meperidine Work?
As an opioid (narcotic) analgesic, meperidine works on the central nervous system, changing the body’s perception of pain, but unlike morphine, which prevents nerve endings from transmitting messages of pain to the brain, meperidine essentially tricks the brain, causing it to experience the euphoric “high” from the drug, rather than the sensation of pain. In addition to its powerful analgesic properties, meperidine also produces feelings of pleasure and giddiness, and abusing meperidine intensifies its painkilling properties, resulting in a powerful “rush” or feeling of euphoria, followed by prolonged sedation. This rapid, blissful high and subsequent feeling of extreme relaxation are the primary reasons people abuse meperidine hydrochloride. What many people don’t know though, is that meperidine abuse can result in serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially during early use and any time the drug dose is increased.
It’s because of meperidine’s habit-forming nature that the drug is not considered the best choice for pain management and is less frequently used to treat pain than other prescription narcotics, such as morphine. In fact, according to the American Pain Society and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), meperidine is not recommended for use as a pain-relieving medication, and these organizations advise that, if the drug is used for pain relief, it should only used for a maximum of 48 hours, and should not be used long-term to treat chronic pain.
Possible Side Effects of Meperidine
Because of its potency, meperidine carries a high risk for meperidine addiction and dependence, and regular abuse of the painkiller can quickly lead to tolerance, in which the body needs higher or more frequent doses of the drug to feel the same effects. Physical dependence on meperidine occurs with prolonged abuse, which can change the way the brain works and cause the body to become reliant on the drug just to function normally. People who develop an addiction to meperidine often exhibit drug-seeking behavior, or a pattern of attempting to obtain the drug from medical professionals using underhanded methods, and it can be extremely difficult to overcome a meperidine addiction without proper professional treatment. Unfortunately, meperidine abuse can result in respiratory distress or death when the drug is taken in high doses or when used in combination with other substances, such as alcohol.
Signs of Meperidine Addiction
Meperidine is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, which means it has an accepted medical purpose in some circumstances, but also has a high potential for abuse. Some people intentionally abuse meperidine and other narcotics to intensify their painkilling properties or to experience the euphoric, powerful “high” associated with the drug, but other people may unknowingly develop a meperidine addiction without realizing that they are abusing the drug. They may start out taking it as prescribed for pain, but once they develop a tolerance to the drug, they may begin increasing their dose or taking the drug more frequently to better relieve their pain. Eventually, a physical dependence on meperidine sets in and they are hooked.
A person addicted to meperidine may exhibit the following behaviors:
Spending a significant amount of time or money obtaining the drug
Isolating themselves from loved ones to hide their drug use
Continuing to use meperidine despite the problems it causes
Neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school
Visiting multiple doctors to get several meperidine prescriptions
Stealing meperidine from a friend or family member
Lasting Consequences of Meperidine Abuse
Meperidine abuse is characterized by any non-medical or non-prescribed use of the drug, including using meperidine at higher doses, more frequently or for a longer period of time than prescribed by a medical professional. Consuming meperidine in any way other than prescribed is also considered abuse. For example, someone may chew meperidine 50mg tablets, crush them up and snort the powder, or dissolve the powder in water and inject it directly into their bloodstream. The route of administration has a direct impact on the intensity of the meperidine “high” and on the resulting side effects.
When meperidine is used outside the normal treatment parameters of a hospital setting, it can have devastating consequences on the individual’s life and the lives of those around him. Once someone becomes addicted to meperidine, quitting the drug becomes extremely difficult, due in large part to the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms they will start to experience once the drug begins leaving their system. Many people attempting to quit meperidine relapse simply in an attempt to feel better and avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Some possible withdrawal symptoms associated with meperidine addiction include:
Bone and muscle pain
Fever and chills
Diarrhea and vomiting
Restlessness and irritability
Anxiety and agitation
Meperidine Overdose Signs and Symptoms
There are many different reasons why people abuse meperidine, possibly to numb emotional pain, to cope with extreme stressful situations, or to relieve pain associated with a chronic injury. Whatever the reason for it, meperidine abuse increases the risk of overdose, which can be fatal.
In addition to respiratory depression, some common symptoms of meperidine overdose include the following:
Slow heart rate
Weak or limp muscles
Cold, clammy skin
Contact BRS Rehab for Help
Prescription opioid addiction is a serious problem in the United States, one that effects people from every socioeconomic, cultural and racial background, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), we are facing an opioid overdose crisis in this country. Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioid drugs, and there is no sign of this problem stopping anytime soon. Unfortunately, research shows that people who abuse prescription painkillers like meperidine are more likely to try harder drugs, like heroin, which are more readily available on the street and typically cost less than prescription drugs. For more information about meperidine abuse and addiction, or to find a meperidine treatment program that works for you, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today.