Demerol Detox: Withdrawal Timeline, Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

demerol addict seeking detox

Demerol is the brand name of the drug meperidine. This medication is normally used to treat pain, although some individuals do abuse it because of its ability to cause an intense high when it is taken in large doses. If either type of use continues regularly for a long period of time, Demerol can cause dependence, and when abused, addiction. Both issues require treatment, as they can cause severe side effects for the patient. Individuals who are dependent on Demerol will need treatment in a detox facility. If you or someone you love is experiencing Demerol detox, do not let them suffer through the process alone.

Understanding Demerol Detox

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Demerol is an intense opioid drug. Often called by its generic name meperidine (or demmies when it is being abused), Demerol comes in the form of both a liquid and a tablet. Those who abuse it often do so by crushing and snorting the tablet or by injecting the liquid. It is a Schedule II substance like methadone, morphine, and oxycodone.

Those who become dependent on Demerol do so because they were using or abusing the drug regularly for long periods of time, usually several weeks or longer. This leads to the body and mind depending on Demerol to minimize feelings of pain and discomfort. If the individual suddenly is unable to gain access to the drug, the result is usually an intense withdrawal syndrome that leads to psychological and physical side effects.

People who become dependent on opioids like Demerol need help from trained medical professionals in order to safely navigate withdrawal. Otherwise, the process can be extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous. As such, it is important to not only understand what Demerol withdrawal entails but also to be aware of the safe, effective treatment options available in local Demerol detox centers.

Demerol Withdrawal Symptoms

list of symptoms associated with withdrawal from demerol

Symptoms of Demerol withdrawal are not life-threatening but you may feel horrible for a few days when detoxing.

The symptoms of Demerol withdrawal are similar to those associated with other types of opioid withdrawal. These symptoms occur because the mind and body have become dependent on the substance, and when it is suddenly no longer available, the body needs to recover (National Library of Medicine).

The common withdrawal symptoms associated with Demerol include

  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle, joint, and bone pain
  • Increased tearing of the eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose
  • Chills and hot flashes
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased respiration
  • Increased heart rate

Many individuals say going through opioid withdrawal feels like an extremely bad case of the flu. This is because of the symptoms like runny noses and chills. However, it can also cause individuals to become extremely anxious and depressed because of the psychological side of opioid withdrawal. Every patient’s symptoms and the syndrome is different, but generally, most people experience these issues.

Causes of Demerol Withdrawal

Those who abuse opioid drugs become addicted if they do so regularly and in large doses. According to the NIDA, opioids eventually change the way the brain works, making a person both dependent on and crave their effects. They will often experience withdrawal when they are suddenly unable to obtain more.

Unfortunately, it is also common for individuals to experience Demerol withdrawal after being treated medically with the drug. However, this type of detox still requires treatment, including a safe tapering off of the drug. Individuals who do not taper off their use of Demerol and other intense opioids will experience severe withdrawal symptoms just like those who suddenly stop abusing these drugs.

In some cases, pregnant individuals can also become dependent on Demerol and other opioids and pass this on to their fetuses. When the baby is born, it will experience severe symptoms similar to withdrawal. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome, and as stated by the NLM, it can cause babies born dependent on opioids to exhibit

  • Blotchy skin
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Rapid breathing
  • Slow weight gain
  • Problems sleeping
  • Stuffy noses
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

This syndrome can even be deadly to newborns, which is why pregnant individuals dependent on Demerol need to be treated in Demerol detox programs.

No matter what your situation or the situation of your loved one, a Demerol detox center is a safe option for those who have become dependent on this dangerous drug. Those who do not seek help put themselves at serious risk, which can, in some rare cases, even be deadly.

How Long Will Demerol Detox Take?

Demerol withdrawal generally takes anywhere from a week to two weeks, depending on the patient and their needs for recovery. Remember also that patients who seek detox treatment who have been abusing Demerol will also need intensive addiction treatment afterward.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, withdrawal from meperidine will usually be shorter than that of morphine withdrawal and less intense, although this depends specifically on the individual in many cases. In general, there are three main stages associated with Demerol withdrawal syndrome.

Stage One

Stage one of withdrawal consists of the flu-like symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Most people begin to feel under the weather and may attempt to push through it. However, withdrawal also causes severe pain in the bones, muscles, and joints, and an intense dependency can cause unbearable pain. This stage usually lasts for 2 to 3 days and begins when the person has not had access to Demerol for about 12 hours.

Stage Two

Stage two of withdrawal may see lingering flu-like effects, but most patients begin to experience severe vomiting and diarrhea. This is an uncomfortable stage of withdrawal. This stage usually lasts for another 2 to 3 days, depending on the individual’s situation. People in this stage must be monitored for dehydration.

Stage Three

Stage three usually only lasts for about 1 to 2 days, but it can sometimes last as long as 4 or 5. In most cases, people experience lingering effects of withdrawal here. Many individuals think they are back to their full health at this point, but they are actually not. This is why it is so dangerous to end treatment early or to try and go through detox at home.

Most local Demerol detox centers provide patients with as long of a program as necessary, which could last for a week or a month. Some individuals may stay in treatment longer, which depends specifically on the patient’s needs.

Are There Dangers?

There are many dangers associated with Demerol withdrawal. Just like opioids in general, Demerol can cause certain serious risks when dependent individuals suddenly stop taking the drug.

  • According to, many Demerol users are in danger of dehydration after they stop taking the drug. This can occur because of the excessive sweating associated with withdrawal as well as the vomiting and diarrhea that often occurs. People going through opioid detox must be kept well hydrated at all times.
  • Anxiety is another serious possible side effect of withdrawal. Many people become anxious when they can no longer obtain more of the drug, which causes them to take desperate acts.
  • Depression can also occur and may become severe if the person is not treated properly. It is a common side effect of withdrawal, but it can also lead to suicidal thoughts and actions if the individual’s syndrome is extremely severe.
  • According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is a potential symptom of anorexia in those who suddenly experience Demerol withdrawal. Although it is not something that occurs in every case, this can become extremely serious if undiscovered and left untreated.
  • The most dangerous potential side effect of Demerol detox, however, is relapse. Many people relapse while trying to detox because they underestimate the intensity of this experience. As a result of relapse, some people even overdose. In fact, detox and just afterward are the most dangerous times for deadly overdose associated with opioid drugs.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Withdrawal?

There are many different treatment options available for Demerol withdrawal. Because so many different people are suffering from opioid dependence and addiction in the United States today, a carefully constructed regimen of medication and behavioral therapy is often used to treat this syndrome.


Pharmacological treatments are often utilized as part of opioid detox treatment. These drugs are effective at curbing one’s withdrawal symptoms and stabilizing patients so they can focus on addiction treatment. The most commonly used medications used for opioid withdrawal treatment are clonidine, methadone, and buprenorphine.


Methadone is an opioid agonist that is often better suited for the treatment of severe opioid dependence. Those who have been struggling with their addictions for years will often require methadone to stabilize them.


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that is safer in potential abuse situations and more suitable to those with milder dependencies. A brand name form of the drug (Suboxone) also contains naloxone to further protect it from abuse.


Clonidine is often used to treat opioid withdrawal because it treats many of the symptoms associated with the syndrome. It cannot, however, treat cravings for Demerol and other opioids, which is why it is often most effective for treating those only dependent on the drug, not those who are addicted to it (NLM).

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies can be helpful to patients suffering from comorbid disorders as well as to those who need to work through feelings of anxiety and/or depression caused by their withdrawal syndrome. These therapies can also help patients prepare for Demerol addiction treatment during detox. Some of the popular behavioral therapies used in Demerol detox include

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • 12-step therapy
  • Family or couples therapy

Still, no one treatment program will fit every patient. Some individuals choose to go through detox without the aid of medications, and some Demerol detox programs exist to help them do so. Others prefer holistic treatment options, such as yoga and meditation, and some detox centers offer these programs in addition to the evidence-based practices listed above. Finding the right treatment for your needs is paramount to recovering safely.

Inpatient or Outpatient Demerol Detox

Choosing the type of detox program you will attend is also important in finding the best care for your needs. Certain detox facilities may or may not offer you the full treatment program you will require in order to safely recover from your Demerol withdrawal.

Inpatient centers provide intensive, 24-hour care in a controlled environment.

Many of these facilities are hospital-based, but some are not. The nonhospital-based facilities are normally called residential detox centers. These programs are especially helpful to those who are concerned about their safety during detox and their ability to avoid relapse. Some individuals also may need 24-hour care in an inpatient center if they have never gone through detox before.

Outpatient center provide non-24-hour care to patients, usually daily at first.

These programs allow individuals to come to the facility at scheduled times in order to receive their medications, attend therapy sessions and classes, and visit with their physicians. According to the NIDA, outpatient centers are often better for those who have jobs or social support networks of friends and family members who can look after them while they are not in treatment.

Choosing between these two types of facilities will allow you to determine just how intensive your detox program needs to be. However, many people who go through Demerol withdrawal need to be in an inpatient center.

Benefits of Inpatient Demerol Detox

It could benefit you greatly to choose inpatient Demerol detox over outpatient care, especially if any of the below statements are true.

  1. You are suffering from a comorbid disorder.
  2. You have a severe addiction to Demerol.
  3. You have a severe dependence on Demerol.
  4. You have never gone through detox before.
  5. You are worried you will not be able to avoid relapse while going through detox or following detox.
  6. You do not have a strong support group of friends and family members at home.
  7. Your home environment is not safe or conducive to recovery.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, inpatient care allows individuals to prepare to make the return to society and provides intensive treatment. If you think there is any chance that you may relapse or experience issues if you are not in a safe, controlled environment during detox, inpatient care is likely the best choice for your needs.

Find a Local Demerol Detox Center

Finding local Demerol detox centers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you know what you need. First, ask yourself the questions below.

  1. Do I require inpatient or outpatient care?
  2. Is there anything about my medical or addiction history that will inform my needs for treatment?
  3. Is there anything else about me—including anything associated with my age, gender, culture, vocation, etc.—that will inform my needs for treatment?
  4. What will I require from my treatment program in order to feel comfortable during detothe x?

Once you have answered all these questions, make sure you have your insurance information and your medical information handy. Then call us.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Commonly Abused Drugs Charts.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. 
  5. National Center for Biochemistry Information. PubChem Compound Database. (2018). Meperidine. 
  6. Oregon State Government. (2015). Opiate Withdrawal: Level II.
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2011). Demerol.
  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Clonidine.
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (3rd Edition).
  10. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. 
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