The crisis of drug addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Approximately 130 people die every day from opioid overdose alone. Opioids are a class of drugs that work on the pain receptors in the brain, delivering pain relief and a feeling of euphoria. Due to these effects, it is extremely easy to become addicted to opioids. One of the most addictive of these synthetic substances is Demerol.
Demerol is used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain from conditions such as cancer, and it is commonly used to treat pain following surgery. Demerol has quickly become a dangerous drug, often obtained and abused by individuals for whom it is not prescribed. Regardless of how it is obtained, addiction to this powerful opioid can result in very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and even death.
Understanding the process of Demerol dependence and addiction is the first step to recovery and getting the help needed to overcome this condition. The withdrawal process requires medical assistance since many of the symptoms can be quite severe. Understanding the nature of the addiction and the steps to break free of it is imperative.
What is Demerol Withdrawal?
Withdrawal from Demerol occurs when a person develops a physical and/or psychological dependence on Demerol and then they reduce the amount of the drug that they use or stop using it altogether, all at once, or “cold turkey”. This results in the body working to adjust physiologically to the missing Demerol which it has become accustomed to. This causes the user to experience very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Just like an addiction to Demerol occurs for each person at a different level of use, Demerol withdrawal varies in length and severity. For those who are dealing with relatively heavy use of the drug, withdrawal symptoms can begin to occur after just 24 hours of the last use. In extreme cases, withdrawal symptoms can begin after just a few hours without the drug. Withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from a few days to two weeks.
For those who experience severe withdrawal symptoms, it may become necessary to obtain medical help. Some detox programs provide medical assistance administered in a secure facility. Patients are observed and treated by fully-trained medical staff so that they can detox safely. In these types of facilities, the staff is equipped to deal with even the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Most also offer information and services to assist the patient in overcoming their Demerol addiction.
Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms
This withdrawal is different for each individual. The type and severity of withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on the amount of the drug the addict has been using and how long they’ve been using it. Their overall mental and physical health, as well as factors such as whether they also used other substances, will also have some bearing on the withdrawal symptoms they experience.
There are a number of different symptoms, and each one can vary in severity and length. The most common ones include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose/watery eyes
- Chest pain
Withdrawal from Demerol occurs in two phases called acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal. The acute withdrawal phase is particularly painful and unpleasant. It usually lasts for 3-10 days. If any symptoms continue for longer than 10 days, this becomes the post-acute withdrawal phase. These can be especially severe. In the very worst cases, post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last for as long as 24 months.
Within the first 24 hours of this withdrawal, the first of the symptoms begin. This can occur as soon as 3 hours after the last use of the drug. Generally, the first symptoms to manifest are some combination of the following:
- Physical discomfort
From the second to the fifth day the withdrawal experience often peaks. Along with feelings of uneasiness, irritability, and nervousness, at this point, the user will also begin to experience physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, headaches, and sweating. The desire for the drug becomes very strong.
From the 6th to the 14th day, the withdrawal symptoms will begin to ease a bit. The ones that still remain should be mild and easy for the user to tolerate. From this point, the acute withdrawal phase has ended and the post-acute withdrawal phase begins.
From the 15th day on, all withdrawal symptoms are part of the post-acute withdrawal phase. The most persistent and powerful symptom that remains at this point is usually the craving for the drug. Other symptoms that may persist can include:
- Mood swings
- Lack of appetite
- Poor concentration
- Inability to experience feelings of pleasure
For those who have become addicted to Demerol and who have a prescription for it should consult with their prescribing doctor rather than discontinuing the medication suddenly. For those who have no prescription, a professional in the field of substance abuse can evaluate their level of addiction and offer advice and recommendation as to the best steps to take to complete a withdrawal and detox program safely and effectively.
Medical detox programs may gradually decrease the amount of Demerol the user is taking, usually over several weeks. A more popular method for Demerol detox is to treat the addict with a substance that is similar to, but far less dangerous, than Demerol (when administered in a controlled medical setting). These substances include Subutex and Suboxone. These will help with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms as well as the user is weaned off of the Demerol. Suboxone contains an ingredient called Naloxone which blocks the feelings of euphoria that Demerol provides, rendering the drug undesirable to the addict and thus making continued Demerol addiction and relapse far less likely.
Detoxing from Demerol can be intimidating, but under the medical supervision at Novo Detox, clients are supported and comfortable as they take their first steps towards recovery. Contact us today for more information.