LISTEN TO AUDIO VERSION
Meperidine hydrochloride (brand name Demerol®) is classified as an analgesic opioid and prescribed to alleviate moderate to severe pain. The U.S. Federal Drug Enforcement agency has designated this drug as a Schedule II controlled substance.
- This drug is indicated for the relief of moderate to severe pain.
- It’s an opioid with an abuse liability similar to morphine.
- It cannot be legally obtained without a physician’s prescription.
Also known as pethidine, it was discovered in 1939 by a German chemist who was trying to synthesize an anticholinergic agent. Meperidine’s analgesic properties were later recognized by another chemist working for a German pharmaceutical company.
It should not be used for treatment of chronic pain. This drug should only be used in the treatment of acute episodes of moderate to severe pain Prolonged use may increase the risk of toxicity.
According to the FDA, the following issues should be known to anyone taking this drug;
- Be aware that tablets contain meperidine, which is a morphine-like substance.
- Report pain and adverse experiences occurring during therapy.
- Individualization of dosage is essential to make optimal use of this medication.
- Do not to adjust the dose without consulting the prescribing professional
- It may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks.
- Avoid combining it with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.
- Women who are planning to become pregnant should consult their physician.
- It Has a strong potential drug of abuse.
- Never stop taking it abruptly without consulting their physician.
- Keep it in a secure place out of the reach of children.
Physicians generally prescribe Meperidine in 50 to 150 mg tablets to be taken every three to four hours.
- Users should not take more than 600 mg per day or risk an overdose.
Side effects include:
- Mood changes
- Mild nausea/vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Blurry vision
Combining this drug with alcohol or other opioids expedites and intensifies side effects. Risk of overdosing on this drug also increases when drinking alcohol and taking this drug because users often forget how much they drank or how many pills they have taken.
When people abuse it and take more than they are prescribed, the following side effects could occur and be severe enough to require emergency medical treatment:
- Muscle twitching or stiffness
- Rapid onset of diarrhea
- Severe vomiting
- Slowed breathing
- Hives/body rash
Over 70,000 overdose deaths were reported in the United States in 2017. Opioids were the current leading causes of these deaths, with opioid abuse responsible for 47,500 overdose deaths. States with the highest numbers of opioid overdose deaths are Ohio, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
Nearly 75 percent of heroin users began using heroin after they were prescribed opioid analgesics and could no longer get a prescription for them from a doctor.Another leading cause of opioid addiction is people sharing unused prescription pain relievers with family members and friends. Research shows that many adolescents abuse this drug and other pain pills that are given to them by family members.
The World Health Organization reports that effective treatments involving intensive counseling and medications like Vivitrol for an opioid addiction exists but only about eight percent of people needing treatment are receiving it.
By acting on opioid receptors in the brain, Meperidine users experience the same side effects produced by other opioids such as Vicodin, hydrocodone, morphine and heroin.
- It is just as addicting as heroin.
In fact, opioids are so addicting that non-cancer patients with only a one-day supply may cause six percent of these patients to become addicted. Furthermore, the chance of someone abusing opioids increases significantly during the first few days of taking them.
- This same report from CBS News also states that people taking it or other opioids for two weeks have a 13 percent risk of addiction to the drug.