What is Meperidine?
Originally sold under its brand name Demerol, Meperidine is a type of synthetic opioid. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain and for decades was the preferred choice of doctors looking to help their patients overcome pain from serious injuries, chronic illness, or following surgeries. Meperidine is legally used to treat pain but can be abused illegally as well.
The drug is available as a tablet, syrup, or injectable liquid and today it is most frequently used during labor and delivery of children in various countries around the world. However, as with any other type of opioid, it carries the risk of potential addiction and as such regular use of it can quickly lead to abuse and dependence due to the feelings of euphoria and ‘high’ that comes with its use. Use of the drug for longer than prescribed or in levels that are beyond what is suggested can quickly lead to dependence.
Use of Meperidine
Meperidine is generally used to help treat pain. While its various potential drug interactions mean that it’s not as commonly used in the USA, other countries around the world still use it as the drug of choice during childbirth. It is also most commonly prescribed to those with diverticulitis since it has pain relieving properties as well as the capability to reduce the pressure within the intestines.
However, due to its nature as a narcotic, it can easily be abused. The drug creates feelings of euphoria, happiness, and wellbeing in users and this can quickly become a psychological dependence in a matter of days. This leads to physical dependence, and when an addiction occurs the users may often stop using the drug in its prescribed state. It’s common for users to grind pills into a powder and smoke or snort it, and heavy addicts often mix this powder with water and inject it into the bloodstream directly. Since Meperidine is also available in an injectable form, it’s possible that this variation of the drug could be obtained and abused as well. Many times health care employers see abuse of Meperidine by health care workers as the drug is available and often diverted.
Effects of Meperidine Abuse
While short-term use of Meperidine as prescribed by a medical professional will often bring about side effects like nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, sweating, and feelings of calmness or dizziness, long-term use can spiral into addiction and abuse. When that happens, the drug abuse can have negative consequences throughout every part of a user’s life. It can negatively impact work and school, lead to attendance issues or even termination of employment. It could create social issues such as isolation from loved ones or an inability to maintain relationships. Abuse can also lead to criminal behavior which could, in turn, can cause one to end up incarcerated for drug-related offenses or theft. And in severe cases, addiction could lead to serious injury or even death.
Withdrawal symptoms can occur as well and include serious cramps, shakes, sweating, nausea, irritability, and more, and could lead one to struggle with the process of stopping the drug use and overcoming their addiction.
Symptoms of Meperidine Use and Abuse
The use of Meperidine has numerous physical, psychological, and behavioral side effects and symptoms that can be noticed by the user as well as those around them. Physical symptoms of use will be immediately apparent to the user but may not be as obvious to those around them. These include things like:
- Mood changes
- Dry mouth
- Extreme feelings of calm or euphoria
- Changes in vision
However, while these physical effects will often only be noticed by the user of the drug, the behavioral changes that Meperidine abuse can trigger will be apparent to those close to anyone using. This can include obvious overuse of the drug for periods of time longer than intended, a focus on nothing other than obtaining and using the drug, abandoning important activities or activities that were once enjoyed, isolation from loved ones, missed time at work or school, and more.
Additionally, things like irritability, depression, psychosis, and other similar effects could also be a warning sign that someone is abusing Meperidine.
Testing for Meperidine
While it’s true that Meperidine is an opioid drug that could be abused, it is a synthetic opioid and as such isn’t metabolized like codeine or morphine. Because of this, it’s not something that commonly shows up in a drug test. However, it can be tested for specifically if it is added to a drug panel screening. Meperidine is not included in a standard drug test even when expanded opiates are requested. A specific drug test panel with Meperidine must be ordered. The 12 panel urine drug test from National Drug Screening will include Meperidine.
If tested for specifically, urine tests will likely detect the drug for several days after the final use of the drug. Blood tests will most likely only detect it within 24 hours of the last use, and blood drug tests are very expensive. For hair tests, it will be detectable for as much as 90 days after the last use of the drug. However, these time frames can vary due to the fact that things like the amount of use, weight, water drank, and more could all have an impact on how long the drug is detectable for. National Drug Screening offers a 12 panel hair test that will include Meperidine.
Meperidine may be tested for by employers as part of a pre-employment screening due to the drug’s impact on the safety of the user and those around it. It could also be tested for if an accident occurs as part of the insurance process. Health care employers including hospitals and medical centers often include Meperidine for all drug testing including random drug testing.
Warning Signs of Meperidine Use
Warning signs of Meperidine abuse can be difficult to recognize in some cases, and some are more obvious than others will be. One day of nausea or a single missed day at work, for example, isn’t indicative of a drug problem. But repeated symptoms could be cause for concern. Physical side effects are harder to identify, but behavioral signs are easier to see despite the fact that they won’t usually show up until an addiction is more serious.
Things like mood swings, loss of focus on anything other than the drug, anxiety, depression, mood swings, loss of concentration, and other similar side effects are all signs to watch out for.