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Treatment Options for Demerol Addiction

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Treatment for Demerol addiction includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT), inpatient and outpatient rehab options, and various forms of therapy, with a focus on behavioral therapy. 

It’s imperative that treatment is customized to the individual needs of the person. This ensures that all underlying issues are addressed to prevent future substance abuse.

Demerol is the common name for the drug meperidine, which is an opioid that is used to treat pain. This drug can be habit-forming and highly addictive. Since the risk of relapse is high with opioids, treatment includes relapse prevention techniques and aftercare planning. 

What Treatment Options Are Available for Demerol Addiction?

There are some of the treatment options you can expect for Demerol addiction: 

Medication-Assisted Treatment 

Medication-assisted treatment is considered the gold standard of care for opioid use disorder (OUD). MAT includes the use of medications like methadone or buprenorphine, which keep withdrawal symptoms at bay and manage cravings for opioids. Since MAT allows individuals to avoid the worst parts of opioid withdrawal, it makes it much more likely that people will remain in treatment.

Therapy is the other component of MAT, generally the use of behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy. With these approaches, people will learn how to change their thoughts around Demerol use, and this will then change their behaviors. 

MAT has been shown to decrease rates of fatal opioid overdose and improve rates of long-term sobriety from opioid abuse. 

Medical Detox

If someone doesn’t want MAT, they may opt to go through a traditional detox process where they simply stop taking opioids. 

The difficulty with this approach to detox is that opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable. It’s often accompanied by symptoms like nausea, vomiting, body aches, and overall distress. If you attempt to do this on your own at home, it’s highly likely that you’ll simply relapse back to Demerol use.

A better option is to undergo medical detox at a dedicated treatment facility. In this setting, you’ll have medical support around the clock, and you may be prescribed medications to manage some of the symptoms of withdrawal. For example, you may be prescribed anti-nausea medications or anti-anxiety medications. 

In some cases, doctors may prescribe a tapered schedule of opioids, where you gradually reduce your daily dose until you are no longer taking any. This measured reduction in dosage allows your body to slowly adjust to the absence of opioids, so your withdrawal symptoms will be much less intense.

Again, the risk of relapse is high if you attempt a tapering schedule on your own. When you have cravings for Demerol, you’ll likely simply take more if you aren’t in the supportive environment provided by medical detox.

Inpatient Rehab

The bulk of your work in Demerol addiction treatment will take place in therapy. In an inpatient rehab program, you’ll reside at the treatment facility. 

You will participate in daily therapy sessions where you will identify issues in your life that contributed to your opioid abuse. You’ll also receive support in creating and implementing a daily routine and regaining independent living skills to help you more effectively manage life’s stressors when you are discharged. 

One of the main advantages of inpatient rehabilitation, aside from constant access to health and social care services, is the social support that is gained through sharing with other people who are going through many of the same experiences. 

Inpatient rehab is often recommended for people with severe or long-term addictions, co-occurring disorders, and those who have a long history of substance abuse. It can also be appropriate for those with unsafe or unsupportive home environments as well as those who simply need to step away from their daily lives to fully focus on their recovery efforts.

Outpatient Rehab

Some people transition into outpatient rehab after completion of inpatient rehab, and others start with outpatient treatment. 

The intensity of outpatient treatment will depend on the severity of your opioid addiction and other personal factors, such as the presence of any co-occurring disorders or polysubstance abuse. Some people will have treatment sessions every weekday, and others may have a couple sessions per week. People will often begin with a more intensive treatment schedule and then gradually scale back on sessions as they progress in their recovery.

Because you’ll continue to live at home in outpatient treatment, you’ll be able to practice your newly learned coping strategies into your community environment. The same types of treatments and therapies that are offered in inpatient rehab are usually available in outpatient treatment programs. 

Peer Support Groups

In most rehab programs, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in peer support groups, where all group members are in recovery from substance abuse. Some groups are dedicated to particular substances, whereas others are more general groups. 

The most well-known peer support group is Alcoholics Anonymous. This 12-step program resulted in many offshoots for different addictions, such as Narcotics Anonymous and Pills Anonymous, which are appropriate for people who have abused Demerol and other opioids. 

Completion of the 12 steps requires the acceptance of a higher power (not necessarily a spiritual entity or one that is religiously affiliated in any way), taking a complete moral inventory of your life, and making amends for past wrongs or harms committed toward others. You may also be matched with a sponsor who has completed the 12 steps and who you can depend on for support when you have urges to relapse. 

For those who don’t like the 12-step emphasis on a higher power, there are many secular groups available, such as SMART Recovery. Your addiction treatment program can connect you with local groups you can attend to support your long-term recovery.

Therapy Options Used in Treatment

Some of the most common forms of therapy used in Demerol addiction treatment programs include the following:

  • Individual therapy: You’ll meet with a therapist in a one-on-one setting, allowing you to dig deeply into personal issues that led you to Demerol abuse. You’ll deconstruct these issues and learn skills to help you better cope without substance abuse going forward.
  • Group therapy: In these sessions, one therapist will lead sessions with multiple people. You’ll benefit from the shared experiences of the group members.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This form of therapy draws from principles of cognitive and behavioral psychotherapy that encourage the identification of thoughts and underlying beliefs that tend to contribute to behaviors like opioid abuse. In sessions, clients learn how to restructure those thoughts and change their behaviors as a result.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy: This approach is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy with more of a focus on addressing motivational ambivalence to personal growth, rehabilitation, and recovery. 
  • Family therapy: Members of your family or close friends will attend therapy sessions with you, where you’ll all address how the family system facilitates or prevents addictive behaviors. You’ll begin to repair some of the relationship damage that may have occurred during active addiction.

Many opioid addiction treatment programs feature additional therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy, adventure therapy, and animal-assisted therapy. Your treatment team will help you structure a comprehensive treatment plan that best addresses your needs and goals.

A New Life in Recovery

While the prospect of a sober life can feel overwhelming when you are actively abusing Demerol or other substances, it’ll become a reality as you progress in recovery. In treatment, you’ll gain the skills needed to thrive in recovery, and you’ll enjoy the benefits that come from a healthy life, such as improved relationships, widened career prospects, and a better quality of life.

Many rehab programs feature robust aftercare planning, so you are well prepared to reenter normal life following treatment. Since addiction is a chronic condition, you’ll likely participate in some degree of relapse prevention maintenance for the rest of your life. This may take the form of regular therapy sessions, participation in support group meetings, or other supportive measures. A healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, exercise, social activities, and enjoyable hobbies will also support your long-term recovery.

Take the first step toward a life without Demerol addiction today. A better future is on the other side.

Updated August 23, 2023
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  5. Is Meperidine the Drug That Just Won't Die? (July–September 2011). The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
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