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Meperidine is a narcotic analgesic and affects the perception of the brain and nervous system in decreasing the pain. The doctor prescribed drug is marketed under the brand name of Demerol. Also, Meperidine is used to treat short-term moderate to severe pain. It is also used to help people fall asleep after a surgical operation such as during labor and delivery.


History of Meperidine

The Nazi scientist based in their laboratory in Germany first discovered Meperidine in 1939. Scientists created the drug to have a more potent anticholinergic drug that can block acetylcholine in the central nervous system.


Why was Meperidine made?

Coincidently, the drug contains properties of a pain killer. Pharmacologists started to use the drug as a safe alternative to morphine. The drug is first sold in vials, which made it more popular than morphine. The injectable form will perform a faster relief of pain than the tablet form medications.


Also, Nazi scientists purely man-made Meperidine. Unlike morphine or codeine, it needs to have an extract of the poppy plant. Pharmaceutical companies can mass produce Meperidine because they can manufacture the drug with less cost.

 Within the next few years, doctors prescribed Meperidine to replace morphine. Because they thought that the drug is less addictive and has fewer side effects. Unfortunately, meperidine contains addictive substances and provides health complications.


Why is Meperidine abused?

Meperidine contains very potent painkilling effects and just like other opioids, it can also give a feeling of euphoria. The combination of these two can promote abuse.

The drug acts on the reward center of the brain, changing how the body responds to pain. Also, users can change its tablet to form, to snort or inject it. They even mix it with other drugs to intensify its effects.


Even with people who have legitimate prescriptions are at risk of having addiction to the drug. Prolonged use of the drug can build up a tolerance. People may find themselves taking higher doses to get the same effects, which can lead to the drug dependence.


Meperidine Abuse Statistics

  •    Between 2004 and 2008 emergency room cases increased 111% because of Demerol abuse
  •    In 2010, US pharmacies sold about 210 million opioid prescriptions
  •    More than 2 million people abuse opiate painkillers prescriptions like Demerol every year


What causes Meperidine addiction?

Presently, no studies can pinpoint the exact cause for meperidine addiction. However, the drug abuse for the drug is considered as an addiction to other similar painkiller medications.  The following are the factors that cause meperidine addiction.

  •    Genetics

–    People who have an immediate family with drug addiction history are more likely to develop an addiction.



  •    Inborn deficiency

–    Some people may have an inborn disease in the reward system of the brain. It may affect how the brain processes the pleasure and reward system. These people have an increased possibility of developing an addiction. They may abuse meperidine to compensate for the inborn deficiency.


  •    Environmental Factors

–    People who grew up in a home where addiction plays a common event may acquire the same habit. They see the situation as morally and socially acceptable. These individuals have a higher chance of developing an addiction later in their lives.


  •    Psychological Factor

–    Drug abuse disorders are interconnected with an existence mental illness. In order to manage the disturbing symptoms, these people turn to substance abuse like meperidine to self-medicate.


Furthermore, opioid narcotic drugs like meperidine can eventually lead to physical and psychological addiction.  Doctors believed that addiction can start as early as two weeks of use. Even to people who are following a legitimate medication have a higher risk of developing an addiction.


What are the signs and symptoms of Meperidine addiction?

The symptoms of meperidine depend on the person’s severity of drug abuse, the span of their abuse, and their genetic makeup. The following are the most common symptoms of meperidine.

Psychological Symptoms of Meperidine Addiction:

  •    Intense mood swings
  •    Depression
  •    Unrelenting anxiety
  •    Impulsiveness
  •    Agitation
  •    Irritability
  •    Worsening symptoms of mental illness
  •    Hallucinations
  •    Delusions
  •    Psychosis



These may include behavioral changes such as:

  •    Drug-seeking manners
  •    Looking daze, or nodding out
  •    Forging, falsifying prescriptions for meperidine/Demerol
  •    Intense craving for meperidine/Demerol
  •    Taking higher doses if the drug
  •    Lying about the drug intake
  •    Stealing money
  •    Frequent borrowing money
  •    Hiding the drug in different places at home or at work
  •    Neglecting responsibilities

Physical symptoms of Meperidine Addiction:

  •    Difficulty of breathing
  •    Dry mouth
  •    Headache
  •    Liver disease
  •    Pruritus
  •    Nausea and vomiting
  •    Hypotension
  •    Sedation
  •    Constipation
  •    Kidney disease
  •    Dizziness
  •    Confusion
  •    Sweating
  •    Seizures
  •    Coma
  •    Heart attack
  •    Stroke
  •    Death


What are the side effects of Meperidine?

Narcotics such as meperidine can result in several devastation side effects. It may affect the both the physical and mental well-being of a person.


Here are the short-term side effects of Meperidine:

  •    Drowsiness/Sleepiness
  •    Confusion/ Disorientation
  •    Nausea
  •    Constipation
  •    Low blood pressure
  •    Low body temperature
  •    Pinpoint pupils
  •    Slurred speech
  •    Slowed reaction
  •    Slowed pulse rate
  •    Slowed breathing


Severe side effects of Meperidine may include the following:

  •    Arrhythmias
  •    Uncontrollable shaking of the hands
  •    Twitching or stiffening of the muscles
  •    Skin problems like hives or rashes
  •    Urinary retention
  •    Hallucinations
  •    Difficult, labored breathing
  •    Loss of consciousness
  •    Seizures

What are the treatments available for Meperidine addiction?

Meperidine treatments involve detoxification and rehabilitation.




In a rehabilitation program, the person can choose to have an outpatient setting. This will allow them to continue their normal daily routine while undergoing the program. However, medical monitoring is important to have a safe and effective treatment process.


Specialists can guide them throughout their recovery and will assist them with relapses. Those factors are important to maintain a drug-free life.



Detoxification is the most common step to stop the addiction. Detox involves flushing out all traces of drug from the person’s system. However, the process may lead to withdrawal symptoms because the body already builds up a tolerance.


Effects of Withdrawal Symptoms of Meperidine

The effects of Meperidine detoxification may lead to uncomfortable and agonizing experience. A person should not stop taking meperidine without proper medical practitioners in an inpatient rehabilitation facility of a hospital setting. The symptoms may include:

  •    Bone and muscle pain
  •    Constant yawning
  •    Tremors
  •    Inability to sleep
  •    Anxiety and agitation
  •    Hot and cold flashes
  •    Fever and chills
  •    Tearing of the eyes
  •    Diarrhea and vomiting
  •    Mucous buildup
  •    Insomnia
  •    Restlessness and irritability
  •    Dilated pupils


How long is the duration of the withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms usually peak after a few days to 14 days. Experts will monitor the progress of people who undergo the program. Also, experts will advise the person to be admitted as an inpatient until their situation improves.


Withdrawal Timeline


First 24 hours


For meperidine detoxification, it usually peaks around 3 to 24 hours from the last intake of the drug. Once the body notices a depletion of the drug in its system, several symptoms may arise.



The person can experience intense cravings above all else, these include:


  •    anxiety
  •    muscle and joint pains
  •    fatigue
  •    nausea
  •    stomach convulsions
  •    loss of appetite
  •    hypertension
  •    erratic breathing
  •    restlessness
  •    back pain
  •    feeling irritable


2 to 5 days

Within these days withdrawal may peak, a person may feel uneasiness, or fearful. Paranoia starts to kick in along with other physical symptoms. Most importantly, the person may experience an intense craving for meperidine.


6 to 14 days

Between 6 to 14 days, withdrawal symptoms will begin to fade.


15 Days and over

Most of the withdrawal symptoms will subside, but cravings for meperidine may persist.

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