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Demerol Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 1, 2019

Demerol is an opioid pain reliever used to relieve the pain associated with surgeries and procedures. This drug substitutes naturally occurring endorphins in the brain at their receptor sites and causes individuals using the drug to get a respite from severe pain and feel relaxed and sleepy. The drug is intended for short-term use only as it is highly addictive.

Pain As A Factor In Demerol Addiction

Many people who become addicted to Demerol began using the drug to combat pain.
People in pain experience similar symptoms to depression. They turn inward, feel inhibited by, and fail to participate in social activities, or find it difficult to focus.

Opioids like Demerol not only alter the brain’s ability to sense pain; they activate the reward centers in our brain, making an individual feel good, and leaving them vulnerable to addiction.

How Opioids Work

The line between relieving pain symptoms and addiction is thin. Opioid drugs like Demerol seek out receptors in our bodies that regulate sensation, including pain. At the same time they hyper-stimulate the reward center of the brain, triggering a dopamine overload along the neural pathways. Feelings of euphoria are evident to the user.

Unfortunately, in some users, the brain begins to interpret this flood of opioids as a life-sustaining event, meaning it seeks out more to achieve basic survival. To the confused brain, there is no difference between the food and water you ingest and the Demerol.

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When examining rates of addiction among chronic pain sufferers using opioids, the numbers are staggering, but it’s not surprising giving the nature of how drugs like Demerol work within the body. Doctors face a unique challenge when determining a course of action to combat pain while managing the highly addictive nature of the drug.

Identifying Risk Factors for Demerol Addiction

Some risk factors may be identified early on to offset the likelihood of dependence on drugs like Demerol. These risk factors include a history of depression, previous drug abuse, heredity, and social environments.

How Opioids Change The Brain

If taken as prescribed for a short period of time, Demerol has little effect on the brain long-term. However, when a person suffering from chronic pain begins managing their discomfort with Demerol, their brain begins to change.

As the brain is continually hyper-stimulated by extreme shifts in the reward/withdraw cycle, it begins trying to balance the ups and downs by deactivating the number of opioid receptors, which in turn creates a tolerance to the drug.

The user continues to reach for that sense of euphoria and gradually suffers from symptoms including severe fatigue and depression. Rather than taking the drug to feel high, the user begins needing the drug to feel “normal.” The body is now completely dependent on the drug, and the user in avoidance of the harsh withdrawal symptoms.

To complicate things for the Demerol addicted person, the frontal lobe, or decision-making and reasoning part of the brain, begins changing with overuse of the drug. With the thought process clouded, someone addicted to the drug that their body now associates with basic life function, is unable to make reasonable decisions including acceptance that the addiction is real. This combined with cravings for the drug that can last months to more than a year following cessation of use, make combating the addiction challenging.

Other Serious Side Effects For Overuse Include

  • involuntary muscle spasms
  • vertigo
  • hallucinations
  • agitation
  • convulsions
  • decelerated heart rate
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Demerol should not be used in combination with alcohol, barbiturates, and other drugs that depress the central nervous system. Using the drug in combination with other drugs or alcohol could increase the severity of the reactions and result in death.

Seeking Help For Demerol Addiction

A slow weaning off of Demerol, as with any opioid, is usually necessary. Even non-addicted patients require a gradual reduction in use over time. In the case of someone who has been abusing the drug, a detox program may be part of a successful treatment plan.

Some Common Withdrawal Symptoms

  • accelerated heart rate
  • aches
  • agitation
  • headache
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle pain
  • fatigue

Get the Support You Need and Deserve is here to help you connect with the level of support you need and deserve as you begin your recovery journey. Contact us today and let us be your first step in a rewarding and successful journey.

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