Mixing Alcohol And Meperidine Side Effects, Interactions And Blackouts
Meperidine is a powerful opioid pain reliever, and one brand-name of the drug is Demerol. Meperidine is intended to be used to treat severe, acute pain. It’s not a treatment for ongoing or chronic pain, and it shouldn’t be used over the long term. Meperidine isn’t used as often in hospital and clinical settings as it once was because of potential side effects and risks. Despite the decrease in how often meperidine is now prescribed, it is still diverted from medical use and misused or sold on the streets. The effects of meperidine are similar to other opioids including morphine and oxycodone. When someone uses meperidine, it binds to opioid receptor sites. These receptors are located throughout the brain, body and central nervous system. When the use of this drug activates opioid receptors, it then changes how pain signals are transmitted from the body to the brain. Other effects include a slowdown of the central nervous system, and in some people, a sense of euphoria. The potential for a euphoric response is one reason opioids like meperidine are so addictive.
Demerol is a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S., which is the case with most prescription opioids. As a Schedule II drug, the DEA recognizes there are medical uses for Demerol and drugs with meperidine as the active ingredient but also a misuse and dependence potential. Before someone is prescribed meperidine, their doctor should go over their history of substance misuse. A physician will also typically talk to a patient about any other substances they regularly use before prescribing an opioid like meperidine. Some substances can have negative or even deadly interactions with prescription opioid pain medications.
One substance that is important to tell a doctor about before being prescribed any opioid is alcohol. Alcohol is commonly used, but when someone is on opioids, even a casual drink can become problematic. Both alcohol and meperidine can have effects that are similar to one another. For example, both can cause dizziness, drowsiness, impaired thinking and judgment, and memory impairment or blackouts. If someone mixes alcohol and meperidine, it can make the side effects more pronounced. Other possible side effects can include nausea and vomiting, or impaired coordination or reactions. People who are mixing alcohol and meperidine may be more likely to be in an accident or hurt someone else.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, just like opioids such as meperidine are. When someone takes a central nervous system depressant, it affects their brain stem in a way that slows down all of the activities it controls. This includes blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. The risk of overdosing on an opioid is already high when it’s used on its own. If an opioid like meperidine is used with alcohol, the overdose risk goes up significantly. Someone may have slow, shallow or labored breathing when mixing alcohol and meperidine. A person could stop breathing altogether or could suffer from brain damage because of a lack of oxygen.
Mixing alcohol and meperidine or any opioid isn’t a good idea. The side effects can range from uncomfortable such as nausea or vomiting to death because of respiratory depression. The severe risks of mixing alcohol and meperidine are even greater if someone is misusing the drug by taking large doses or by crushing it to snort or inject it. Alcohol changes how the body metabolizes substances. Taking alcohol and meperidine together can cause higher concentrations of the drug in the body of the patient. If someone is regularly mixing alcohol and meperidine, they may have a polysubstance addiction. Simultaneous addictions to multiple substances aren’t uncommon, but they require in-depth specialized detox and addiction treatment.
To learn more about addiction treatment, please reach out to The Recovery Village. We can answer questions and help you figure out the next step.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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