Signs, Symptoms And Side Effects Of Meperidine Abuse
Meperidine is a prescription, synthetic opioid. It’s more commonly known by the brand-name, which is Demerol. As an opioid, meperidine binds to opioid receptor sites through the brain and body, altering how pain signals are sent from the brain to the body. Along with reducing pain signals transmitted to and in the brain, meperidine is also a central nervous system depressant. Meperidine and other opioids can slow essential functions including respiration, so they have to be used carefully and only as prescribed. Meperidine can be taken orally, as a tablet or liquid solution. The drug can also be injected. Meperidine isn’t intended as a long-term pain treatment because of the potential for addiction and physical dependence. Meperidine can trigger a euphoric and pleasant reward response in the brain of the patient, which can ultimately lead to addiction.
When someone is using a prescription drug like meperidine in any way outside of how it’s prescribed, this is considered misuse. Meperidine is a controlled substance in the U.S., so misusing it can not only increase the risk of negative side effects but can be illegal as well. Symptoms of meperidine misuse can include taking higher doses than instructed or taking doses of meperidine more often than prescribed by a doctor. Using meperidine without a prescription, such as by stealing it or buying it illegally, is a symptom of misuse. Using meperidine in ways other than what’s intended, such as crushing and snorting the tablets, is also a symptom of misuse. Other symptoms of meperidine misuse can include:
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Rapid mood swings
- Anxiety or depression
- Irritability or agitation
- Forging prescriptions or making up symptoms
- Lying about how much meperidine is being used
- Keeping stashes of meperidine
- Developing a tolerance
Using meperidine for the effects, such as to feel euphoria or relaxation
There can be physical, mental and lifestyle-related side effects of meperidine misuse. Physically, some of the side effects of meperidine misuse can include nodding off or seeming extremely drowsy, even at odd times. Someone who is misusing a prescription opioid might experience dry mouth, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and constipation. Sedation, disorientation, confusion and severe symptoms like heart attack, seizures, stroke or death are possible with opioid misuse. Mentally, when someone is misusing a prescription narcotic, they may start to have worsening symptoms of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety that becomes worse. Regarding lifestyle, when someone is misusing a powerful drug like meperidine, they may withdraw from friends, family and responsibilities. Two troubling side effects of meperidine misuse can also include addiction and dependence.
Just because someone is showing the signs of meperidine misuse above, doesn’t mean they’re addicted. Addiction is often a side effect of prescription drug misuse, however. A meperidine addiction is something that can be medically diagnosed. Addiction is believed to occur on a continuum, meaning based on the number of symptoms someone has, addiction can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Possible meperidine addiction symptoms and signs can include:
- Out-of-control meperidine use
- Unsuccessful, serious attempts to stop using meperidine
- Withdrawal symptoms if someone stops using suddenly
- Continuing to use meperidine, even when there are negative health effects
- Social problems and breakdowns in relationships
- An intense focus on maintaining a supply of meperidine
- Risk-taking either while on meperidine or to get more
- Using meperidine as a way to escape or deal with problems
- Meperidine is the obsession or top focus of the person
- Consuming excess amounts of meperidine
- Legal and financial problems
- Loss of interest in other activities
Over time, the use of meperidine can lead to serious side effects. First, when the brain is repeatedly exposed to an opioid-like meperidine, it changes the structure, wiring and function. People who have been taking opioids like meperidine for a long time can have imbalances in the neurons and their hormones. There have also been some studies showing a decline in the brain’s white matter because of long-term opioid use. This can lead to problems with thinking, behavior and decision-making. Damage to organs and systems throughout the body can start to occur, especially when they don’t receive the oxygen they need because of slowdowns in the central nervous system. Complications from chronic constipation can occur, and the longer someone uses meperidine, the more likely they are to develop a physical dependence.
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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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