Demerol Side Effects | Warnings Of Meperidine

Demerol is a pain medication with side effects that range in severity. Some may experience constipation while others may have difficulty breathing. Warnings for Demerol include a risk of addiction as well as precautions for elderly patients and those with underlying conditions.

Meperidine (brand name Demerol) is a prescription opioid analgesic drug used to help treat those suffering from moderate to severe pain. 

However, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Demerol is a Schedule II controlled substance which means it can be habit-forming and carries a risk of addiction.

Because of this, there are severe side effects as well as warnings to know before taking the drug from your prescribing healthcare professional.

Side Effects Of Demerol

Demerol works by targeting the central nervous system (CNS), binding to opioid receptors, and providing pain relief. This pain medication may also cause various side effects.

Common Side Effects

Those who take Demerol as prescribed can experience common side effects such as:

In addition, those who participate in Demerol abuse may see these common effects heightened. 

Serious Side Effects

Participating in Demerol abuse can create life-threatening side effects which can negatively impact your health. For instance, you may experience:

  • shallow breathing
  • physical or psychological dependence
  • serotonin syndrome
  • Demerol overdose
  • Demerol withdrawal when you stop using

Withdrawal Symptoms

Those suffering from Demerol withdrawal may experience various symptoms such as:

  • mood changes
  • sleeping problems
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sweating
  • yawning
  • diarrhea
  • runny nose
  • muscle pain

Demerol Warnings

Before starting Demerol, there are warnings for your safety. As a Schedule II controlled substance, Demerol has a risk of addiction and abuse.

Opioid Use Disorder

Taking large amounts of Demerol can increase the risk of meperidine addiction or opioid use disorder.

A chronic mental health disease, addiction is characterized by intense drug cravings and an inability to stop using despite harmful consequences to your health, relationships, and life overall.

Underlying Conditions

For those suffering from certain conditions, Demerol may exacerbate or worsen your symptoms. If you have a health issue, consider the risks of taking Demerol and speak with your primary healthcare doctor.

For instance, allergic reactions can take place which may cause hives or trouble breathing. The following groups of people should also avoid Demerol:

  • those with sleep apnea, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD), or other breathing problems
  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • those who have received a head injury
  • those with liver, gallbladder, or lung disease
  • those with urinary retention or urination problems
  • those with sickle cell anemia

Elderly Patients

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), patients 65 years and older may have a slower elimination rate of Demerol compared to others. Because Demerol is slower to exit the body, the risk of overdose may be increased.

Elderly patients should take the medication only as prescribed by their healthcare provider. Your doctor may lower your dose of Demerol to best help treat the chronic pain you experience without creating harmful effects.

Drug Interactions

Demerol can interact with a considerable amount of other substances. Be sure to review the drug information for Demerol and notify your doctor of any medications you currently take.

The following should not be combined with Demerol:

  • benzodiazepines
  • muscle relaxants
  • alcohol
  • butorphanol
  • supplements
  • over-the-counter pain relievers
  • other prescription drugs
  • antihistamines
  • ritonavir
  • cimetidine
  • certain antidepressants

Serotonin Syndrome

Those who suffer from mental illness and require antidepressants should speak with their primary physician before taking Demerol. Combining antidepressants with Demerol can lead to a condition known as serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin syndrome is the process in which the body creates too much serotonin, leading to potentially life-threatening effects like tremors, fever, and seizures.

Some of the antidepressants to avoid consist of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as:

  • selegiline
  • methylene blue
  • phenelzine
  • isocarboxazid
  • linezolid
  • tranylcypromine

Additionally, those taking Demerol should refrain from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Demerol Overdose

Your risk of Demerol overdose increases if you use the drug in a manner not prescribed by your doctor. Symptoms of a Demerol overdose may include:

  • respiratory depression or slow breathing
  • slow heart rate
  • severe drowsiness
  • blurred vision
  • clammy or cold skin
  • changes in blood pressure
  • fainting
  • loss of consciousness

If a Demerol overdose has taken place, seek urgent medical attention. Contact 911 immediately so emergency personnel can assist the person suffering from an overdose.

A form of overdose treatment consists of the medication naloxone (Narcan), a potentially life-saving drug used to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

To learn how we address prescription drug abuse on an inpatient basis, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. Food and Drug Administration — Demerol
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Meperidine
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Meperidine hydrochloride overdose
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal
  5. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Serotonin Syndrome
  6. National Library of Medicine: StatPearls — Meperidine

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: March 8, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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