Demerol Withdrawal Timeline

Demerol Withdrawal TimelineDemerol, also known as pethidine is a branded form of meperidine.

This narcotic analgesic is an opioid-based painkiller prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. The effects of Demerol are similar to those of morphine and oxycodone.

Although Demerol is much less potent than morphine, the short-acting opioid still carries a strong risk of abuse and addiction. If you become addicted to this medication, you will experience Demerol withdrawal.

Demerol detox is characterized by intensely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and powerful cravings for Demerol. Withdrawal can be streamlined if you engage with a supervised medical detox. This offers you access to FDA-approved medications, as well as around-the-clock clinical and emotional care.


In many cases, addiction to opioid-based painkillers like Demerol begins with a person taking the medication only as directed and with a supporting prescription. Even when used as prescribed, tolerance to Demerol rapidly forms. As the pain-relieving effects of Demerol diminish, more of the medication or more frequent doses are required. Physical and psychological dependence on Demerol can quickly set it. This often but not always leads to Demerol addiction

Others deliberately misuse or abuse Demerol for recreational purposes, specifically the rewarding and euphoric opioid high.

However use of this medication starts, Demerol opiate withdrawal occurs if an individual who is dependent on the medication or addicted to the medication attempts to moderate or discontinue use.

Demerol withdrawal involves the presentation of a variety of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Demerol withdrawal signs are a manifestation of the body’s struggle to adjust to the absence of opioids.

If you have a prescription for Demerol, consult your prescribing physician before you attempt to stop using the opioid painkiller.

Those who have been abusing Demerol without a prescription should seek medical guidance and request a referral to a licensed medical detox center if withdrawal in a medical detox program is recommended.

Demerol detox sometimes involved a tapered reduction of dosage. More often, though, a substitute medication such as buprenorphine or Suboxone is administered to replace Demerol.

Either approach to Demerol detox can mitigate the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Both methods will be safer and more comfortable than attempting to abruptly discontinue use without medical supervision.

Both medications used to address opioid withdrawal symptoms contain the same active ingredient (buprenorphine). Suboxone also contains another active ingredient, naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the rewarding effects of Demerol.

These are the most common Demerol withdrawal symptoms, according to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration):

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Raised blood pressure levels
  • Increased respiratory rate and heart rate
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Dilated pupils

After Demerol withdrawal is complete, you can transition directly into inpatient rehab or engage with an outpatient program for Demerol addiction. Before you commit to recovery, though, how long is the withdrawal process?


Demerol user sitting on stairsThe timeline for opioid withdrawal varies from person to person but will typically last for around ten days.

Some people experience withdrawal symptoms just three or four hours after last using the medication. In almost all cases, the symptoms of Demerol withdrawal present within the first 24 hours of detox.

Demerol detox occurs in two phases:

  • Acute Demerol withdrawal
  • PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome)

The acute phase of withdrawal lasts from three to ten days.

If symptoms persist for more than ten days, this is classified as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome). These lingering symptoms will gradually fade over time, sometimes lasting for a year or two before they dissipate.


Although everyone will have a different experience of Demerol withdrawal, we will not outline a typical timeline.


Demerol withdrawal symptoms present during the first 24 hours after the last dose. These symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Cramps

Additionally, cravings for Demerol start manifesting alongside these withdrawal symptoms.


Withdrawal symptoms usually peak on the third or fourth day of Demerol detox. As well as the above symptoms, you may also experience:

  • Uneasiness
  • Paranoia
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating


Withdrawal symptoms will subside over the second week of detox. Any residual symptoms are usually quite mild by this stage.

If symptoms present after ten days of Demerol withdrawal, this is the post-acute withdrawal phase.


After two weeks of abstinence from Demerol, most withdrawal symptoms will subside. 

By this stage of withdrawal, psychological cravings may continue manifesting. These cravings can be addressed during ongoing Demerol rehab.


Many factors can influence the specifics of the Demerol withdrawal timeline.

Some people with mild opioid use disorders may find that withdrawal symptoms subside in just a few days. Those with moderate or severe opioid use disorders, by contrast, could find that Demerol detox lasts for between ten days and two weeks.

The following variables can all impact the severity and timeline of Demerol withdrawal:

  • Age.
  • Health status.
  • Metabolism.
  • History of addiction or relapse.
  • Any co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Amount of Demerol taken.
  • Frequency of Demerol use.
  • Route of delivery.
  • Severity of addiction (opioid use disorder).
  • Dietary habits.
  • Tapering or substitution schedule.


Most Demerol withdrawal symptoms are not usually life-threatening. That said, these symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and are almost always best managed in a medical environment. You should experience no physical complications from a controlled and supervised Demerol detox.

It is the psychological symptoms of Demerol detox that are more challenging to overcome, specifically the psychological cravings for opioids. These cravings can drive people detoxing at home to relapse to provide relief.

We can help you avoid any physical complications from Demerol detox here at Gratitude Lodge.


We can help you safely detox from Demerol or any other opioid here at our luxury Gratitude Lodge luxury rehab centers. Located in Newport Beach, Long Beach, and San Diego, all treatment centers offer access to medical detox programs, 30-day inpatient programs, and intensive outpatient programs.

At our licensed and accredited facilities, you can detox from Demerol with MAT (medication-assisted treatment) if required. MAT can also be effective throughout ongoing treatment, minimizing cravings and promoting abstinence.

You can also access the following interventions at Gratitude Lodge:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Counseling (individual and group)
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies
  • 12-step immersion program
  • Daily meetings

If you are ready to reclaim your life from Demerol addiction, kickstart your recovery with supervised withdrawal and detox at Gratitude Lodge. Call admissions at 800-994-2184 for immediate assistance.