Today, when people talk about the opioid epidemic,
often Demerol is left out of the conversation. In fact, Demerol has been around since the 1930’s and is one of the most potent and addictive of all prescription pain pills.
It was used in place of morphine until mid-1980, mainly because it was thought to be safer and less addictive than morphine. That information turned out to be very incorrect.
Celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis were abusing it in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the Kennedy boys died from it in the 1980’s, and Michael Jackson was abusing it in the 1990’s.
Since about 2000, addictions to prescription narcotics like Demerol have increased by 500%, and they now outnumber additions to cocaine, heroin and others combined.
Demerol is on the government’s list of most abused opioid painkillers, mainly because it is so fast acting. It also seems to be a contributing factor in more than 80,000 people who enter treatment every year for prescription painkillers and the more than 14.5 million Americans who are abusing them.
The biggest problem with Demerol is that it has more risk than other painkillers. The main ingredient in Demerol is meperidine, a synthetic narcotic made entirely from manmade chemicals in laboratories. Meperidine is classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance, along with other prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl. Meperidine is similar to morphine but not as strong.
People who used meperidine made in kitchen labs developed a form of Parkinson ’s disease. These so-called “frozen people” now experience nerve damage and symptoms like tremors and slowed movement that are permanent and irreversible.
Demerol also can cause seizures and causes over 200 deaths a year because of certain rare reactions and serotonin syndromes, which are not associated with other opioid painkillers.
Technically, Demerol is used to relieve severe and moderate pain, to suppress cough, to stop diarrhea, to support anesthesia before surgery, and to kill pain during childbirth. Doctors are not supposed to prescribe it for chronic pain because of the dangers of addiction and seizures.
Most prescription pain works by blocking the nerves that transmit pain in the spinal cord and central nervous system. However, Demerol works differently; it tricks the brain into replacing feelings of pain with pleasure. It often causes serotonin levels to soar. As a matter of fact, there are more than 7000 cases and some 100 deaths annually from this, which is called serotonin syndrome.
It is pretty easy to overdose on Demerol and it is also very easy to get addicted to it too. It was indirectly a contributor to the death of Michael Jackson. He developed an addiction to Demerol
and when he stopped taking it he developed such severe insomnia that he became dependent on Propofol to sleep, an anesthesia that is only supposed to be used during surgical procedures.
Coming off of Demerol is very difficult and requires professional treatment. There is hope though that with this help an addiction to Demerol can be overcome and a person can go on to live a clean and productive life.