Demerol is an opioid pain reliever prescribed for moderate-to-acute pain, mostly in the hospital. It can also be prescribed for chronic pain. Its brand name is meperidine, and its pain-relieving effects last a shorter time than other opioid pain relief medications.

Demerol works differently from other opioids that keep the body’s nerve endings from transmitting pain messages to the brain. Instead, it works in the central nervous system (CNS) by tricking the brain into feeling “high” or euphoric rather than feeling pain. When it is given for pain relief, the person taking it will feel the euphoric effects instead of pain.

If it is given to a patient in the hospital, it is only for a short time, no longer than 48 hours. Demerol can be very addictive due to the feelings of euphoria, and therefore it is not a standard pain relief medication.

Withdrawal from Demerol can be distressing and potentially dangerous for some people. If you are using Demerol and want to stop taking it, it is best to detox at an addiction treatment center, where you will be medically supervised as you go through it.

Demerol Side Effects

Demerol Side Effects

Due to its strong potency and short half-life, Demerol can cause some side effects that you might experience. Some of them can be mild, and others more serious.


  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Extreme calm
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Flushing of the face and neck
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Mood changes


  • Nightmares, hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Shivering
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slow or difficult breathing
  • Shaking hands that cannot be controlled
  • Twitching
  • Severe muscle stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Hives
  • Rash

If you were to take Demerol for longer than prescribed, your brain might become adapted to it. Soon, you will reach tolerance when it feels like the drug is not working as it did when initially taken. You may think you need to take more of it than to feel those same effects.

If you stop taking Demerol after you reach tolerance, it’s possible you will feel withdrawal symptoms indicating that your system has become chemically dependent on the drug.

Opioids bind to the body’s opioid receptors meaning that withdrawal symptoms will be felt over the whole body.

Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms

Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms

Early withdrawal symptoms from Demerol might make you feel like you are coming down with the flu. This early withdrawal time is known as detox. Your body is starting to detox the Demerol and toxins out of it, and it is working hard to get back to normal functioning.

Below are the withdrawal symptoms to be aware of:

  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irritability
  • Depression

The Demerol Withdrawal Timeline

The Demerol Withdrawal Timeline

Not all of the withdrawal symptoms will affect everyone and not in the same way. People who are mild users of Demerol may find withdrawal symptoms lasting a few days, while for heavier users, detox could last about a week.

  • It is essential to note that the time frame and severity of withdrawal depends on different factors for each person, such as:
  • The dose of the drug taken
  • Frequency of the drug taken
  • Method of ingestion
  • How addicted to the drug the person is
  • If the person has a history of addiction and relapse
  • Their age and overall health condition
  • Their metabolism
  • Their support system
  • Their dietary habits
  • What their tapering schedule is

First 24 hours: You may begin to feel early withdrawal symptoms that make you feel like you have the flu. Symptoms like yawning, sweating, runny nose, fever, body aches, and maybe anxiety are possible.

Days 2-5: Symptoms usually peak in this time frame. Some of them may be at their worst, and it is smart to have support with you so that you don’t relapse. The most commonly reported symptoms are chills, nausea, vomiting, body aches, insomnia, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and strong cravings for the drug.

Day 6 and after: When you reach day six or seven, most physical symptoms should be gone. Heavy users of Demerol might still be feeling the symptoms mentioned above. Others might experience fatigue, depression, and cravings.

It is recommended to taper off Demerol slowly. Each lowered dose of it may cause a surge in symptoms but should not be too bad. The general rule is that the lower the dose, the less intense the withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the most challenging withdrawal symptoms to overcome are the psychological ones, such as depression, anxiety, and agitation. Solid support at this time is crucial to get you through without relapse. Addiction treatment specialists are trained in helping people get through the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Demerol withdrawal is not as dangerous as withdrawal from other classes of drugs, but it can invoke suicidal thoughts for some people. Overdose is a serious possibility if you were to relapse and take the same dose or more of Demerol again as your body just detoxed it out. Medical detox is a safe and comfortable way to go through withdrawal.

Demerol Addiction Treatment

Demerol Addiction Treatment

Demerol is a potent opioid analgesic (painkiller), and if you were to stop taking it abruptly or go “cold turkey,” you could experience intense withdrawal symptoms. Some of those could cause you to relapse.  The full continuum of care, as defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, is your best option to stop abusing Demerol.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is medically supervised to provide the client with support, medication, and fluids to prevent dehydration so they can safely get through withdrawal. Psychological help is also available to support you. This first stage of substance use treatment will help your body and brain begin to normalize so that you can focus 100 percent of your attention on learning how you became addicted to Demerol. You will learn how to handle the triggers of using the drug, create a relapse prevention plan, and work through any emotional issues. Medical detox will safely get you through withdrawal.

Residential (Inpatient) Treatment

The next step is residential treatment, sometimes called inpatient treatment.  Here, you will stay on-site to fully focus on your recovery while participating in intensive therapies. Substance use professionals, therapists, and medical personnel are there to work with you as you start on the path to recovery. You will be in a comfortable and safe environment away from personal stresses and triggers. You will be able to work through any mental health disorders, such as depression, and be able to find the root cause of addiction.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)

Intensive outpatient treatment or IOP allows you to live at home while attending intensive therapy sessions at the treatment center. Some people may not need inpatient treatment, and others may not be able to leave home. This level of treatment is best for them. It is also the next progressive step in substance use treatment. Generally, IOP programs require you to attend at least 12 hours a week working with a therapist(s).

Outpatient Treatment

This level of treatment is for those who have progressed from residential treatment and IOP to outpatient. You will be able to stay at home and still receive addiction treatment for a specific number of hours per week. You will have availability to substance use specialists, therapists, and other clients who are forging a new, substance-free life. You may also be encouraged to join 12-step meetings to gain more support and knowledge about staying drug-free. That can be quite valuable.

If you want to stop abusing Demerol, there is no better time than now. You do not have to do it alone.

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