Demerol: All About The Prescription Drug

Medical understanding of drugs requires many long-term studies. Sometimes, a drug considered safe is later discovered to have caused more side effects than benefits. In most part of the 20th century, Demerol was a preferred drug of many physicians when they had to manage acute pain.

It was thought to have less addictive potential but was later found to have a greater toxicity than other opioids, especially with long-term use. Let’s take a detailed look at Demerol.

What is Demerol?

Demerol is a prescription drug for treating severe pain. It belongs to the group of drugs: the opioid analgesics. Demerol binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and changes the way our body processes pain. It changes moderately to severe pain into a feeling of pleasure; no, there isn’t some magic involved.

Owing to its high potential for addiction and abuse, Demerol is reserved for specific cases, and not all painful conditions are entitled to its use. Overuse of Demerol can cause euphoria, which is often called as “rush.”

Meperidine: The Main Ingredient

Demerol is basically the brand name for meperidine hydrochloride, which is the only active component in Demerol. All the properties of Demerol are, therefore, due to its main ingredient, meperidine. Inactive ingredients include:

  • Calcium Sulfate
  • Starch
  • Dibasic Calcium Phosphate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Talc

What is Demerol Used For

Like other opioids, Demerol is also used to relieve moderate to severe pain, especially when other analgesics have failed. It is also used prior to or during a surgical procedure and makes the drug of choice to manage shivering induced by therapeutic hypothermia.

While other opioids, like Dilaudid, are used for managing pain in patients who need round the clock analgesia effect, Demerol is not suitable for chronic (ongoing) pain.

Prolonged use can result in the accumulation of meperidine metabolite, normeperidine, and cause toxicity (e.g., seizures). It is, therefore, more appropriate for managing sudden episodes of pain which are moderate to severe.

Based on its potential for misuse, it is reserved for use in only those patients for whom alternatives to opioids are either ineffective or are not expected to provide adequate pain relief.

Comparison With Other Opioids

There are many similarities among opioid pain medications, but a few differences are also noted. Some opioids are more potent while others have a greater toxicity; some are suitable for acute pain, whereas others help with chronic pain relief. Demerol is compared here with three common opioid analgesics: oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone.

Demerol vs Oxycodone


Demerol vs Morphine


Demerol vs Hydrocodone


The Recommended Dosage For Demerol

The doctors stick to lowest effective dose for the shortest duration while recommending Demerol. The dose may vary based on individual differences in the medical history and some other stuff. Based on the patient’s response, the dose is adjusted to acquire a reasonable balance between the pain-relieving effects of Demerol and adverse effects associated with opioids.

Dosage in Adults:

Initial treatment with Demerol requires 50 to 150 mg oral dose for effective pain relief. Your doctor may recommend up to 6 doses in a day, each dose is given four hours apart. The total daily dose must not exceed 600mg.

Dosage in Pediatric Patients:

Children are not entitled to receive the same dose as adults. Be it tablets or oral solution, Demerol is usually administered in doses of 1.1 mg/kg to 1.8 mg/kg in children. The dosage frequency, however, remains same, i.e., every 4 hours.

Dosage Adjustment When Taken With Other Drugs:

If a patient is on medication like phenothiazines or tranquilizers, the dose of Demerol is reduced by 25 to 50 percent.

Demerol Side Effects

The pharmaceutical industry has yet to produce a medicine that claims to be free of any side effects. Just like all others, Demerol too has a downside to it.

While not all individuals are likely to experience every side effect, but common ones are mostly present during the course of treatment with Demerol. They can be mild or severe.

Common Side Effects

Each of the common side effects given below has been reported in at least one percent of the patients taking Demerol. Many are manageable and others would go away once you stop taking the medicine. These side effects are as follows:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • A headache
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Changes in vision, such as blurred or double vision
  • A sense of well-being, which is not true
  • Mood changes
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Pain or cramps in stomach
  • Sweating

Severe Side Effects

It is possible to have severe side effects upon taking Demerol, in which case you are to consult your doctor as soon as possible. The following signs are a red flag:

  • Hives, itching
  • Skin rash
  • Flushing of face
  • Hallucinations
  • Change in your heartbeat (fast or slow)
  • Dissociation from reality
  • Increased breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Respiratory depression (shortness of breath, trouble breathing, or wheezing)
  • Face swelling
  • Difficulty urinating or frequent urge to pee
  • Fainting
  • Seizures

Demerol Can Cause Extreme Drowsiness

Demerol causes excessive drowsiness and cautions should be taken to prevent any accidents from this side effect. The patient must be warned before prescribing this drug.

Demerol Can Lead To Hypotension

Use of Demerol in patients who have had a surgery or have a compromised blood pressure maintenance due to depleted blood volume may result in hypotension. Your doctor is the best judge on when to use this medicine and for how long.

What Are The Effects Of Mixing Demerol And Alcohol

Alcohol must not be mixed with opioid analgesics, including Demerol. Mixing the two can lead to enhanced and serious side effects, such as extreme drowsiness and impairment in thinking. Other side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Respiratory depression (weak and shallow breathing)
  • Agitation
  • Mood changes
  • Fainting
  • Coma

The above mentioned side effects can even lead to death.

Buying Demerol Online

Meperidine (Demerol) is a Schedule II drug, which means it is controlled in a similar fashion as morphine and other drugs that have a high potential for abuse. You cannot expect to buy Demerol online. It is a prescription drug.

The maximum amount you can buy from a local pharmacy also varies according to laws in your residing state, but the bulk amount cannot be bought no matter what state you live in.

Demerol Abuse And Addiction

The fact that Demerol is in schedule II category is a proof to it’s abusive and addiction potential. Although all individuals taking this drug require close monitoring, but those with a history – personal or family – of substance abuse or mental health issues are more at risk.

Demerol is abused by crushing or chewing the tablets and snorting or injecting the solution. Such practices result in high levels of the drug in blood and may even lead to death.

Demerol Withdrawal Effects

If a person develops a physical dependence on Demerol and the therapy is stopped abruptly, certain side effects are observed, which we call as withdrawal effects. The trick behind avoiding withdrawal is to taper the dose gradually, instead of suddenly quitting the drug.

Even when the doctors taper it off slowly, some individuals are likely to experience withdrawal. In this case, the doctor needs to raise the dose to the previous level again and taper off more slowly. Withdrawal effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Yawning
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • A backache
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Use of illicit means to procuring the drug

Alternatives To Demerol

Current treatment options for managing pain in medical settings include opioid and non-opioid drugs.

Opioid Alternatives

Demerol is not likely to be a suitable option in every case. Your doctor may prescribe another opioid analgesic, for example:

  • Dilaudid
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxymorphone
  • Morphine
  • Codeine

Non-opioid Alternatives

Other options like non-opioid analgesics or non-drug treatments can also be used for pain relief. These are:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ketamine
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Local anesthetics
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Kratom mitragyna
  • Injections or nerve blocks using local anesthesia

The Natural Alternative For Pain Medication: CBD


All opioid analgesics are controlled substances. Even if you are suffering from moderate to severe pain, you cannot lay your hands on these miraculous, yet potentially dangerous drugs without a prescription.

Most people would want to have a natural alternative in this case. Cannabidiol (CBD) can act as an alternative to analgesics.

How CBD Helps With Pain

Each one of us has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that produces its own cannabinoids, which are termed as endocannabinoids (ECS). The ECS regulates various functions, such as pain and sleep. CBD influences the body to make use of ECS more effectively.

It activates or inhibits compounds in the endocannabinoid system. CBD may also reduce inflammation, which in turn play a positive role in pain control.

Where To Buy CBD

You can buy CBD from a local store or online as many e-stores are selling it. Before making a purchase, make sure you have done enough research (both online and offline). Do read customer reviews about the product before you buy a particular brand of CBD oil.

Why Choose CBD Over Demerol?

Research has shown that CBD is less likely to cause dependence and therefore, the same dose can be maintained without having to increase it. Although long-term studies are required to state the effects of CBD more explicitly, whatever little research has been conducted, it directs to the potential benefits of CBD oil.

Moreover, there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that CBD oil is effective in controlling chronic pain. If you are interested in trying natural methods for treating pain, CBD oil may be an answer. Consult with your doctor if you are taking any medications or using CBD for the first time.

Bottom line

Demerol is a useful drug in treating acute pain. It has its share of side effects, just like other narcotics and may pose a greater threat in some individuals that the benefit. Notorious for their addictive potential, opioids are not a likable choice for all. Natural alternatives, like CBD oil, may prove effective in pain relief.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purpose only. We do not recommend the purchase of Demerol or CBD oil without consultation with your doctor.

Farma Health Desk Editor

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