Meperidine is an opioid pain medication prescribed by physicians and nurse practitioners to treat moderate-to-severe short-term pain; its prescription name is Demerol.1 Its use in hospital settings has decreased in recent years because of its potential to lower an individual’s seizure threshold, however some pharmaceutical-grade Demerol continues to be diverted for illicit use.
On the street, Demerol is sometimes known as “Smack,” “Dust,” “Juice,” “D” or “Dillies”. It is typically available in the form of tablets or liquid, and it has been abused similarly to morphine and oxycodone.1
Your brain and body slow down after taking Demerol, resulting in a feeling of relaxation and euphoria. When Demerol is combined with other drugs that also slow you down, the effects can be deadly.1 This article discusses the devastating consequences of combining the prescription pain medication Demerol with alcohol, and it includes a brief overview of treatment for Demerol addiction.
Side Effects of Taking Demerol with Alcoholic Drinks
Demerol impacts the receptors in the brain and spinal cord that control how you experience and respond to pain.1 Our brain’s respiratory centers are also impacted by the presence of medications like Demerol.
You begin to exhale longer and inhale less when you take Demerol, resulting in too much carbon dioxide and too little oxygen in your body. When used incorrectly, Demerol not only causes this problem but also prevents your body from automatically fixing it. Scientists call this vicious cycle opioid-induced respiratory depression.1
Respiratory depression is a serious problem that can easily escalate to a medical emergency. Combining multiple substances that cause respiratory depression put you at even more pronounced risk of injury or death.1 For example, mixing Demerol with alcohol will amplify the respiratory depressant effects of each substance. When combined, you might experience:1
- Severe drowsiness.
- Weak, shallow breathing.
- Slowed heartbeat.
- Mood changes.
- Loose, floppy muscles.
- Loss of consciousness.
You should never combine Demerol with alcohol. The effects can cause serious harm and even death.
Treatment for Addiction to Demerol and Alcohol
Addiction to Demerol is considered a medical condition and warrants professional treatment. This medication is both physically and psychologically addictive, so you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. You do not have to go through this alone, however.2 The first phase of treatment is detoxification, followed by psychosocial interventions.
Demerol withdrawal symptoms begin 4 to 6 hours after use and peak at 12 hours.2 These symptoms mimic those from any other synthetic opioid. During early withdrawal, you may experience:2
- Anxiety, dysphoria, and irritability.
- Lack of appetite.
- Rapid breathing.
- Watery eyes.
- Runny nose.
- Dilated pupils.
During the peak stages of withdrawal, you may experience:2
- Abdominal cramps.
- Hot and cold flashes.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased heart rate.
- Bone aches and muscle twitching.
Withdrawal from Demerol is rarely life-threatening, but you should never detox alone if you have medical issues such as a heart, liver, or seizure conditions. Detoxification under the supervision of a physician or nurse practitioner will help ensure your safety, comfort and success.2
Detoxing from Demerol can occur in inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization settings.3 Upon entering a detox program, you will see a physician or nurse practitioner who will help establish your diagnosis and treatment plan. Detoxification involves supportive care that minimizes your withdrawal symptoms.2
Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medication such as clonidine to minimize your anxiety, high blood pressure, sweating, and restlessness.2 It is also important to note that while Demerol withdrawal isn’t life-threatening, alcohol withdrawal is, so a person should be thoroughly evaluated for this potential should co-abuse of the substances be an issue.
Detox program facilities are safe, clean and comfortable places staffed with clinicians, including nurses, social workers and psychotherapists. These professionals are highly educated to provide the best possible treatment. This team is in place to help you through your detox process.3
Following detox, you will engage in psychosocial treatments such as counseling or a 12-step program.3 Psychotherapy to treat Demerol addiction comes in many forms. Two effective forms of treatment include cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing.4
A trained therapist will guide you through the process. Most 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous, combine behavioral, spiritual, and cognitive interventions. They bring together groups of people with similar addiction struggles to form tight social bonds and a community support network.4
Demerol and alcohol abuse can have serious consequences. The most important action you can take is to seek treatment. If you or someone you know would like more information about Demerol detox centers, please call us toll-free, 24 hours a day.
- Chisholm-Burns, M. Schwinghammer, T. Wells, B., Malone, P. & DiPiro, J. (2013). Pharmacotherapy Principles and Practice (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education/Medical.
- Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A. & Ruiz, P. (2014). Synopsis of Psychiatry (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.
- Gabbard, G. O. (2014). Gabbard’s Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
- Jhanjee, S. (2014). Evidence based psychosocial interventions in substance abuse. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 36(2):112–118.