Demerol use, abuse, and addiction

What is Demerol

Demerol is an opioid analgesic and is the brand name for a synthetic substance known as merperidine. It must be prescribed and is used to treat moderate to severe pain, and is sometimes used before surgery to enhance the effects of the anesthetic. While most people use Demerol to relieve pain, there are also people who abuse and develop an addiction to the drug.

How Demerol is Used

The drug comes in pill, syrup, and intravenous form. Users will swallow it, drink it, inject it or crush and then snort it. Demerol users may be more likely to abuse it because of the rapid onset of its effects. The high wears off between 2 and 4 hours. This may cause people to overuse the drug.

It Tricks the Brain

Demerol targets the central nervous system, and basically tricks the user’s brain by replacing the feeling of pain with a high-like feeling.

Euphoria to Abuse

People who use Demerol will feel euphoric effects. Oftentimes, people who are prescribed the drug, unintentionally develop an addiction; because, after repeated use of this drug, the body can develop a tolerance and dependence. Some users will increase their dosage without consent from their doctor; normally this is to further relieve their pain or for the euphoric, high like feelings.

What Does Demerol Abuse Mean?

Demerol abuse means the user is taking too much of the drug, just to feel its effects. People who abuse Demerol are putting themselves at risk for developing health, financial, work, and family problems. This abuse almost always leads to a mental obsession and a craving for more of the drug. If they do not quit their abuse, they are at risk for developing an addiction.

How a Person Abuses Demerol

People who abuse Demerol may be given a prescription for real or made up pain, or by buying it off the streets. However, most Demerol abusers have been given it in the hospital and for their return home they are given a prescription.

Effects of an Addiction

Demerol abuse and addiction may be present in users who have developed a tolerance to the drug and continue to take it no matter what the consequences may be. Demerol can be a very dangerous drug and can have very ill effects on the abuser.

An addiction to Demerol can develop very quickly if the user is abusing it on a regular basis. When Demerol is used, the person may seem to have difficulty concentrating, confusion, and impaired motor and cognitive skills. When it is abused, as the effects of the drug wears off, the user may take more, in doing so, they will be developing a tolerance and a physical and mental addiction at the same time.

Physical Symptoms of an Addiction

As the person increases their use of Demerol, their physical symptoms associated with its abuse will also increase.

Symptoms of Addiction

  • Constipation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Nausea
  • Loss of concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth


Although overdosing on Demerol is not as common as other prescription medications, it can still happen. An overdose mainly occurs because of the how quick the drug begins to take effect and how quickly it wears off. People who abuse or have an addiction to Demerol may consume near toxic levels of the drug in an attempt to keep their highs going. It is common for a user to experience seizures and delirium because they have taken too much of the drug in one day. It also lead to an overdose.

Symptoms of a Demerol Overdose

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Coma


When a person severely abuses or has an addiction to Demerol, they can experience withdrawal symptoms when they decide to quit using it.

Withdrawal Symptoms   

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Flu like symptoms

It Can Be Hard to Quit

Because withdrawal symptoms from Demerol abuse and addiction may be hard to deal with, users may fear quitting or relapse soon after they quit.

Treatment for a Demerol Addiction

A Demerol user should never quit without professional help. When a person has an addiction to Demerol, they should go through a detox. Detox will help them to come off of the drug slowly, this helps ease their withdrawal symptoms and make the process easier to deal with.

Once the person has gone through detox, they should go to a treatment centre. People who abuse Demerol can overcome their abuse and addiction with the help of professionals.

About the Author

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Clinical Director at The Cabin (MBPsS, British Psychological Society Number: 479469) Lee is a Registered Member of the British Psychological Society. He graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK with a degree in Behavioural Science and a postgraduate clinical focus on addictions from the University of Bath. Lee is a focused and ambitious individual who has in-depth training and experience in a broad range of clinical psychological interventions in the treatment of addiction, dual diagnosis, and complex trauma.

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