What is Meperidine?


What is Meperidine?

Meperidine is a narcotic painkiller similar to the drug morphine. Meperidine is more well-known as the opiate Demerol HCL. Meperidine is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Meperidine was the first synthetic opioid made in 1932 by the chemist Otto Eslib.

Meperidine is taken either in pill form or as syrup which is much like a cough syrup. When taken in pill form meperidine comes in 50mg and 100mg tablets. It is meant to be taken every 3 to 4 hours when taken orally. The max amount of meperidine that is recommended is 150mg every 4 hours.  Meperidine can also be taken by injection into the muscle tissue, skin tissue, or veins. Meperidine was the opiate of choice by many doctors for a long time because it was thought to be safer and less addictive than morphine. Meperidine was also supposed to be better at treating pain in comparison to morphine. The truth about meperidine or Demerol is that it doesn’t work any better than morphine, is just as addictive, and just as dangerous. Which is why Demerol, is not as quickly prescribed as a painkiller today. Some doctors do continue to prescribe meperidine but not nearly as many.

Meperidine has multiple side effects and drug interactions. Because meperidine is a narcotic painkiller its side effects are very similar to those of morphine.

Less serious side effects of meperidine may include:

  • constipation;
  • loss of appetite;
  • headache, dizziness, mild weakness;
  • dry mouth;
  • sweating;
  • itching;
  • urinating less than usual; or
  • loss of interest in sex.

Serious side effects of meperidine include:

  • weak or shallow breathing, slow heartbeat;
  • severe drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out;
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • cold, clammy skin;
  • muscle movements you cannot control;
  • confusion, mood changes;
  • severe weakness or dizziness; or
  • agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, fainting;

Stopping the use of meperidine after a long period use may also lead to severe meperidine withdrawal symptoms. This is because the continued use of a narcotic painkiller such as meperidine can lead to meperidine addiction. Meperidine addiction is scary and involves needing more and more of the drug to get the same effects and the inability to stop without experiencing meperidine withdrawal symptoms.  Symptoms of meperidine withdrawal can vary in intensity depending on length of time the individual has been using the drug and dosage. The symptoms associated with Demerol withdrawal are usually experienced within a few hours after the last administration. Early withdrawal symptoms include:

  • watery eyes,
  • insomnia,
  • diarrhea,
  • runny nose,
  • yawning,
  • sneezing,
  • dysphoria,
  • sweating,
  • and in most cases a strong drug craving.

As meperidine withdrawal symptoms progress the individual is likely to experience

  • restlessness,
  • irritability,
  • loss of appetite,
  • body aches,
  • severe abdominal pain,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • tremors, irritability,
  • and even stronger and more intense drug craving.
  • Severe depression and vomiting are also very common.

Any narcotic painkiller such as meperidine has a use during certain times especially those in which an individual is under severe pain, surgery or in a hospital setting. It is good to remember though that all opiates are highly addictive and that taking any opiate including meperidine for a long period of time will and always will lead to a physical addiction to the drug. With physical addiction to any opiate comes withdrawal symptoms and the same goes for meperidine. Meperidine has a lot of drug interactions too, so always consult with your doctor before you begin using any prescription narcotic.