A woman sits and wonders about her demerol addiction

The Opioid Epidemic took the lives of over 48,000 people in the year 2017 alone. While the nation focuses on heroin and fentanyl in relation to the Opioid Epidemic, the reality is that approximately 35% of these deaths were due directly to prescription painkillers, such as the medication Demerol. (1)

Here we take a look at the dangers of Demerol abuse, addiction, and withdrawal.

What is Demerol?

Demerol (meperidine) is a prescription medication used for the treatment of moderate to A mother and daughter discuss demerol abuse with pills laying next to them severe pain. Demerol belongs to the class of opioids known as the fully synthetic opioids.

This means it is not derived from opium poppy plants like most other opioids.

Demerol was first approved for medical use in 1942 and still sees limited use today. Demerol acts on the same receptors as other opioids, and has a similar potential for addiction. (2)

What makes Demerol so dangerous?

Demerol was originally believed to be less addictive and a “safer” substitute to morphine when used as a painkiller. Over time, however, it was found that Demerol was just as addictive and dangerous as any other opioid.

Demerol, like other opioids, has the potential to cause opioid overdose death when too much of the medication is taken. Demerol also produces a toxic metabolite, known as normeperidine. (3) Normeperidine builds up in the body when Demerol is abused, causing irritability, tremors, muscle twitches, and seizures. (4)

What are the effects of Demerol?

Demerol produces the same effects that are commonly associated with opioids. The signs and symptoms of Demerol abuse are the following:

  • Euphoria
  • Sense of well-being
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Pinned pupils (5)

Demerol Addiction

Despite early beliefs that Demerol was a safer alternative to morphine, it has a high potential for addiction. (6) Demerol is both physically and physiologically addictive. Tolerance to the drug occurs rapidly, which means the user must take ever-increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects.

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Demerol Withdrawal

If the user suddenly stops taking the drug, they will experience a severe withdrawal syndrome, which typically includes the following symptoms:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Teary eyes and frequent yawning
  • Agitation
  • Cold and hot flashes (7)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/005010s050lbl.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11782820
  4. https://www.openanesthesia.org/aba_metabolism_-_meperidine/
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a614045.html
  6. https://web.archive.org/web/20091028220140/https://www.nps.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/17273/RADAR_Dec_05_To_print_complete.pdf
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm