Demerol Addiction, Statistics, Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Demerol?

Demerol, a narcotic prescription and pain reliever from the opiate class, is the brand name for the drug meperidine. Demerol has been used by doctors for various medicinal reasons, including for women during labor and childbirth and to treat pain associated with heart attacks, cancer and other conditions. Demerol is also typically used for the relief of a range of pain, from acute aches and minor injuries to chronic and severe pain. This drug effectively functions in the body by altering the perception of pain in the central nervous system. Since it is one of the more powerful pain relievers, it is not usually prescribed outside hospital settings or inpatient facilities. Demerol can be ingested in several forms, including orally, in a pill form, in a liquid form, or by injection (which is the strongest form of intake). When taken outside the parameters of physician supervision or for recreational use, Demerol can be highly addictive and painfully destructive. Street names for Demerol include, “Smack”, “Dust”, “Juice”, D”, or “Dillies”. When used for other purposes besides medicinal reasons, an addiction to Demerol can be formed. Demerol can have a euphoric effect on the brain, and men and women may attempt to recreate this feeling by taking quantities greater than what is prescribed. This will result in a tolerance to the drug, and larger doses will be needed to relieve the pain and achieve the “high” desired by  addicts. Those suffering with an addiction to it will endure difficult consequences, but there is always a solution to recovery.

Demerol Abuse Statistics

A Demerol addiction can be formed in individuals from various backgrounds and ages. Statistics about Demerol addiction can be helpful in learning patterns about this illness. Understanding this addiction can improve treatment outcomes and the prognosis for individuals struggling with Demerol abuse. The following are statistics about Demerol addiction:

  • According to Harvard Health Publications, between the years of 2004-2008, the number of emergency room visits resulting from overuse of painkiller drugs, such as Demerol increased by 111% [1].
  • In data from the U.S. Drug Abuse Warning Network, mentions of hazardous or harmful use of Demerol declined between 1997 and 2002, in contrast to increases for fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, and oxycodone [2].
  • The number of dosage units of Demerol that were reported lost or stolen in the U.S. increased 16.2% between 2000-2003, from 32, 447 to 37,687 [3].

Causes of Demerol Addiction

An addiction to the drug could be initiated because of numerous factors that may be present in a person’s life. These causes that could possibly influence the progression of Demerol addiction include triggers that are social, biological, and/or psychological in origin. Social factors might include one’s surrounding environment, living conditions, or early exposure to the drug from friends and family. Psychological causes, such as abuse or underlying trauma, could influence an individual to become addicted to a painkiller. Finally, an example of a biological cause would include how a man or woman could have a genetic pre-disposal to drug addiction, and this would make them more likely to abuse Demerol. It might originally be sought to alleviate pain, whether physical or emotional; and as tolerance is built toward the drug, it becomes essential to consume greater quantities to feel the numbing effects. This is typically the beginning of the vicious cycle of a Demerol addition, and professional help is necessary to help break these behaviors.

Signs and Symptoms of Demerol Addiction

A Demerol addiction can be identified by a variety of signs and symptoms. Are you concerned that you are struggling with an addiction? Do you believe that a loved one is stuck within the throes of Demerol abuse? Review the following signs and symptoms to learn what is commonly revealed in an addict:

  • “Nodding Out” – This is usually one of the first symptoms noticed by others. When a man or woman is addicted to Demerol, they will appear to be in a daze and have difficulty focusing
  • Other Physical Side Effects – These include vomiting and nausea , severe mood swings, paranoia, blacking or passing out, inability to focus on a task or conversation, severe anxiety or depression and insomnia.
  • Obsession with Demerol – Individuals who are addicted to it will become obsessed with the drug and act compulsively to obtain the drug
  • Relationship loss – addicts will have difficulty in their personal life due to their incessant need for the drug, and their relationships will suffer as a result.
  • Attaining more Demerol – Men and Women addicted to it will attempt to obtain prescriptions however they can and may begin stealing or fraudulently acquiring the drug.

Demerol Effects

An addiction to the drug will result in consequences that negatively impact all areas of an abuser’s life, both short and long term. An addiction to Demerol can impact your life in the following ways:

  • Physical effect of Demerol Use: The recreational use of it can cause physical damage to your body by disrupting normal mechanisms. If an overdose has occurred, death may result.
  • Demerol Abuse Psychological Impact: Using Demerol in recreational and abusive ways can lead to the disturbance of one’s mental and emotional well being. Psychological effects include an increase in anxiety or depression, mood swings, and altered perception of reality.
  • Demerol Social Abuse Consequences: The abuse can influence the destruction of relationships and family units. As addicts become consumed by their drug use, the increased isolation and refusal to participate in social functions will hinder their ability to have healthy relationships with others.

A Demerol addiction does not yield at only physical effects, though this is a major aspect of the suffering involved. A person abusing Demerol will also struggle with damaging outcomes to their social life, financial responsibilities, and relationships with family, and psychological health. painkiller addicts will continue to experience these consequences until professional help is sought and appropriate treatment is received.

Demerol Withdrawal

Opiate based drugs, such as Demerol, can cause a physical dependence. Once an individual has become addicted to Demerol, any reduction in the dose normally take can result detrimental consequences in the form of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can vary from person to person depending on how long Demerol has been used and the amount normally consumed. Withdrawal symptoms will typically begin anywhere from 6-36 hours after the last use of the drug and can include the follow:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle Aches

Withdrawal from Demerol should take place under the supervision of medical professionals, as complications can occur. There are instances when physicians can prescribe approved drugs to help alleviate symptoms experienced during withdrawal. Clonidine is a common drug used to help decrease agitation, anxiety, muscle aching and cramping during the withdrawal period.

The duration of the withdrawal period will depend on the individual, severity of the Demerol addiction, and length of time the drug was abused. Demerol treatment programs often have the necessary resources to safely and efficiently withdraw from the drug and should be considered as part of the process.

Demerol Treatment and Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with a Demerol addiction, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Your life is valuable and worthy of recovery and you are deserving of the freedom that is experienced apart from dependence on a drug. Though you might feel it may never be possible to live a peaceful life without painkillers, take hope in knowing that recovery is always possible. With the right resources, tools, and support, you can be well on your way on the recovery journey towards freedom from a Demerol addiction with a good rehab center. By receiving the help you need, you will ultimately have the ability to overcome this addiction.

Demerol Articles



[2]: Gilson AM, Ryan KM, Joranson DE, Dahl JL (2004). “A reassessment of trends in the medical use and abuse of opioid analgesics and implications for diversion control: 1997-2002”. J Pain Symptom Manage 28 (2): 176–188. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2004.01.003. PMID 15276196.

[3]: Joranson DE, Gilson AM (2005). “Drug crime is a source of abused pain medications in the United States”. J Pain Symptom Manage 30 (4): 299–301. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2005.09.001. PMID 16256890.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 27, 2014
Published on, Addiction Treatment Guide