Generic Name: meperidine (me PER i deen)
Brand Names: Demerol HCl
Medically reviewed on December 12, 2017
What is Demerol?
Demerol (meperidine) is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic.
Demerol is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain.
Demerol may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
You should not use Demerol if you have severe asthma or breathing problems.
You should not use Demerol if you have severe asthma or breathing problems.
Do not use meperidine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.
Demerol can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.
Taking this medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
Fatal side effects can occur if you use Demerol with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use Demerol if you are allergic to meperidine, or if you have severe asthma or breathing problems.
Do not use Demerol if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
Some medicines can interact with meperidine and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take stimulant medicine, herbal products, or medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.
To make sure Demerol is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
any type of breathing problem or lung disease;
a blockage in your stomach or intestines;
a head injury, brain tumor, or seizures;
drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness;
liver or kidney disease;
problems with your gallbladder, adrenal gland, or thyroid;
sickle cell anemia; or
abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing.
If you use Demerol while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Meperidine can pass into breast milk and may cause drowsiness or breathing problems in a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.
How should I take Demerol?
Take Demerol exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Meperidine can slow or stop your breathing, especially when you start using this medicine or whenever your dose is changed. Never take Demerol in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.
Demerol may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction.MISUSE OF NARCOTIC PAIN MEDICATION CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Selling or giving away Demerol is against the law.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Do not stop using Demerol suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using this medicine.
Never crush or break a tablet to inhale the powder or mix it into a liquid to inject the drug into your vein. This practice has resulted in death with the misuse of meperidine and similar prescription drugs.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Demerol is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.
Do not keep leftover Demerol tablets or liquid. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, flush any unused tablets or liquid down the toilet. Disposal of medicines by flushing is recommended to reduce the danger of accidental overdose causing death. This advice applies to a very small number of medicines only. The FDA, working with the manufacturer, has determined this method to be the most appropriate route of disposal and presents the least risk to human safety.
See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since Demerol is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Skip any missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. A meperidine overdose can be fatal, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose symptoms may include slow breathing and heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, blue-colored skin or lips, fainting, or coma.
What should I avoid?
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with Demerol.
This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how this medicine will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.
Demerol side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Demerol: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Like other opioid medicines, meperidine can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak. A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.
Stop using Demerol and call your doctor at once if you have:
weak or shallow breathing, slow heartbeat;
severe drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out;
confusion, mood changes, agitation, hallucinations;
tremors, muscle movements you cannot control, or a seizure (convulsions);
low cortisol levels - nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness.
Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Meperidine is more likely to cause breathing problems in older adults and people who are severely ill, malnourished, or otherwise debilitated.
Long-term use of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in both men and women. It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.
Common Demerol side effects may include:
nausea, vomiting; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Demerol?
Narcotic (opioid) medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:
other narcotic medications - opioid pain medicine or prescription cough medicine;
a sedative like Valium - diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril, Tranxene, Versed, Xanax, and others; or
drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing - a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, tranquilizer, antidepressant, or antipsychotic medicine.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with meperidine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Demerol only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 14.01.
More about Demerol (meperidine)
- Demerol Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 60 Reviews
- Generic Availability
- Drug class: narcotic analgesics
- Demerol (Meperidine Injection)
- Demerol (Meperidine Syrup and Oral Solution)
- Demerol (Meperidine Tablets)
- Demerol (Advanced Reading)
- Demerol Injection (Advanced Reading)
Other brands: Meperitab