Demerol Detox, Overdose, Withdrawal and Symptoms

Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up Treatment West Palm Beach. For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox may be required first. If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.

Demerol is the brand name of Meperidine. It is a prescription medication most commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Demerol belongs to a class of drugs called opiate analgesics. According to the National Institute of Health [1], in 2018, about 11.4 million people used narcotic pain relievers such as Demerol without a prescription. Demerol can cause physical dependence. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Over time, the body’s tolerance increases, and subsequently more of the drug is needed for the same effect. Taking any drug more often than needed or in higher doses than prescribed may lead to addiction requiring Demerol detox.

Like other opiate painkillers, Demerol has a high risk of abuse because of its mood-altering effects. Although it is a Schedule II prescription drug, people may visit several doctors (“doctor shopping”), purchase Demerol from dealers, forge prescriptions, or steal.

Demerol Abuse

The abuse of Demerol is dangerous because it can easily lead to:

  • Tolerance (needing increasing amounts to feel the same effects)
  • Physical dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug
  • Numerous physical health issues ranging from mild, for example, drowsiness, to potentially deadly, like, respiratory depression.
  • Overdose
  • Death

A person may abuse Demerol in one or more of the following ways:

  • Taking a higher dose of Demerol than prescribed
  • Using Demerol to get high (not to relieve pain)
  • Taking someone else’s prescription (even for a legitimate reason like pain relief)

Tolerance to Demerol

Demerol may increase the frequency of seizures in patients with seizure disorders. Also, it may increase the risk of seizures occurring in other clinical settings associated with seizures. If the dosage is increased much above recommended levels, seizures may happen in individuals without a history of any seizures disorders.

Physical Dependence to Demerol

The physical dependence on this drug happens when the person has reached a situation where if they discontinue taking Demerol or reduce the amount they take, they begin to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Addiction to Demerol starts when the user begins to act in ways that are damaging to them in order to continue its use.

Demerol Addiction

Demerol addiction can occur at prescribed dosages. More so when the drug is misused or abused. Abuse of Demerol poses a risk of overdose and death. Do not abruptly discontinue Demerol in a person physically dependent on opioids. When stopping this drug in a physically dependent patient, gradually taper the dosage. Rapid tapering of Demerol in a person physically dependent on opioids may lead to withdrawal symptoms and return of pain. Time perfect to look for a medical-assisted Demerol Detox program.

Signs of Addiction to Demerol Include:

  • Drug tolerance and increased dosage
  • Inability to stop taking Demerol or multiple unsuccessful attempts to stop
  • Taking more of the drug and for longer than intended 
  • Inventing pain symptoms to get more of the drug
  • Lack of interest in things not revolving around obtaining Demerol
  • Absenteeism at school or work and decreased productivity
  • Inability to fulfill daily obligations
  • Sleeping at odd times
  • Weight loss and changes in appetite and eating habits
  • Mood swings and a possible complete shift in personality
  • Continued use of Demerol despite known negative consequences
  • Using Demerol in situations that may be potentially risky or hazardous
  • Potential legal or criminal issues

Demerol Detox Withdrawal

Withdrawal happens when a physically or psychologically dependent individual stops taking the drug or reduces the amount they take. As their body tries to adjust physiologically to no longer having Demerol in its system, the user will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and agitation. Try to find a medical-assisted Demerol detox to deal with withdrawal and other side effects when you stop taking the drug.

Demerol withdrawal symptoms are typically moderate to severe and can include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
we level up treatment facility
Demerol Detox: When one stops taking Demerol without tapering off, severe symptoms such as tremors, seizures, and even death can occur. 

Demerol users may also experience strong cravings when they first quit the drug, prompting some to begin using again. To reduce the likelihood of relapse, those who are addicted to Demerol should seek the help of a medical Demerol detox program.

Duration of Withdrawal and Timeline

There are two phases of withdrawal that a user will experience during Demerol detox. These are acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). The acute withdrawal is the first phase and usually occurs during the 3rd and 10th day of your last Demerol dose while the PAWS lasts longer, in some cases as long as 24 months, but the symptoms eventually fade as time passes by.

First 24 Hours Demerol detox process

This is where irritating symptoms arise such as anxiety, nausea, physical discomfort, and irritability. You may also feel very strong urges which, if not properly addressed, could lead to relapse.

Days 2-5              

Expect your withdrawal symptoms to worsen. Some common symptoms that manifest during this phase are nausea, vomiting, sweating, and muscle aches.

Days 6-14            

The withdrawal symptoms are fading. The remaining symptoms are not that painful. PAWS is expected to begin during this phase.

Days 15+           

Other symptoms during the Demerol Detox process, such as depression, mood swings, restlessness, inability to feel pleasure, poor concentration, decreased appetite, agitation, anxiety, lack of motivation and insomnia fade away. The urge to take the drug again may still persist.

Demerol Overdose

Demerol abuse is dangerous, as it increases the risk of overdose. In addition, taking large amounts of the drug can depress and halt respiratory function, which can be fatal.

Other Symptoms of Demerol Overdose Include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Stupor
  • Weak or limp muscles
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Coma

Medically Assisted Demerol Detox

Demerol Detox is much like detoxing off other drugs. Your clinician will determine the best way to wean the body off its dependence on the drug in a gradual, phased approach. You may be prescribed medications to help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and a nurse will monitor your progress and make adjustments to your medications as needed. You may also be given NAD+ IV treatments to help boost cellular regeneration, further reduce withdrawal symptoms, and kick-start the recovery process.

During medical Demerol detox, doctors may taper off your dose of Demerol over a period of weeks. However, it is more common to switch to another, a similar substance, such as Buprenorphine, Suboxone, or Subutex. Either method helps you to reduce withdrawal symptoms and is safer and more comfortable than quitting “cold turkey.” Sometimes, a physician will prescribe you medications to help with the withdrawal process.

Demerol Detox
Demerol Detox Treatment

Demerol users are advised to consult a doctor before quitting the drug if they have a prescription. Demerol users who do not have a prescription are advised to get an evaluation of whether they should complete withdrawal in a medical detox program. Prolonged abuse of Demerol can cause abnormalities and changes in your brain. When these changes occur, it means that you have become reliant on Demerol—you have developed a tolerance, dependence, or even an addiction. Even those who follow a prescription can become dependent on Demerol as well.

We Level FL Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatment

We Level Up FL primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment therapy for underlying problems like Demerol Addiction often fuels negative behaviors. Taking that first step to get the help you deserve can be life-changing.

We understand how behavioral disorders and secondary co-occurring addiction diagnoses directly impact each other. We Level Up Florida can instill a support system through our mental health treatments that can make you feel valuable. Call us now for a free mental health assessment! Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up Treatment West Palm Beach.


[1] NIH –