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Demerol vs. Morphine: What You Need to Know


Understanding the differences between various types of drugs and medications is vital in order to develop a perspective on the different ways in which they interact and affect the body, as well as to recognize potential signs that a loved one may have developed a dependency. Two commonly abused substances are Demerol and Morphine, though many individuals do not know the key differences between these two substances.

When analyzing Demerol versus Morphine, there are a number of striking similarities, but there are also a number of different ways in which these two drugs are different. To help you understand the similarities and differences between Demerol and Morphine, we have put together a comparative guide that delves into a number of key aspects of each.

Demerol vs. Morphine: Everything You Need to Know

When attempting to compare Demerol and Morphine, it is important to first have a foundational understanding about what these drugs are. Morphine is a part of the class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics (pain relievers). The primary purpose of Morphine is to change the way the brain perceives pain so that the individual using Morphine does not experience the severity or scope of their pain.

Morphine is most often given in liquid form by injection and is meant to be utilized within a monitored and controlled setting. However, Morphine can also come in a number of other forms, including suppository, tablet, and capsule. Morphine can be known and sold by a number of other brand names, such as MS-Contin, MSiR, Oramorph SR, Roxanol, Kadian, and RMS. Morphine is classified as a Schedule II narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Classification as a Schedule II narcotic means that a substance has a high potential for being abused and that its use may lead to a severe psychological or physical dependency. Morphine is extremely addictive and can quickly create a physical and psychological dependency when used in high doses or for a prolonged period of time.

The purpose and function of Morphine is to block pain sensations and to depress or calm the functions of the central nervous system. This calming effect on the central nervous system slows down the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration and is also capable of inducing feelings of pleasure, and in some cases even euphoria. Being an opioid drug, Morphine works by binding to the opioid receptors that control feelings of pain and emotion within the brain. By interfering within this reward circuitry in the brain and rerouting feelings of pain, it is capable of producing analgesic effects. Morphine is capable of changing the ways in which chemical messengers within the brain are created, distributed, and absorbed.

When an individual is confronted with a thing or person that makes it happy, the brain releases a handful of different neurotransmitters, one of them being dopamine. Dopamine creates feelings of happiness, pleasure, euphoria, and relaxation. When an individual experiences this onset of Dopamine in response to their reaction or action, they are encouraged to repeat it, which is how a reward pathway within the brain is formed. Morphine interferes in this natural process by flooding the brain with Dopamine. This surge of Dopamine is how Morphine is capable of creating pleasure responses in replacement of pain sensations. Continued use of Morphine may distort and alter the way an individual’s body and brain react and function, which is why is can be difficult to stop taking and people often experience withdrawal symptoms.

On the other hand, Demerol is also an opioid narcotic analgesic and is the brand name for meperidine. Demerol is often used to manage moderate to severe pain. Demerol can be used to treat a wide variety of different conditions, but it is often used during labor or childbirth, after a heart attack, to manage pain caused by cancer, or after an individual has endured a severe accident. However, its uses are by no means limited to these situations.

Like Morphine, Demerol is also extremely addictive and has a high potential for the creation of a physical or psychological dependence when taken in high doses or for a long period of time. Because of this, it is also classified as a Schedule II narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Because of the Controlled Substances Act, Demerol can only be legally obtained with a valid prescription by a medical professional. Demerol can also be ingested in a number of different ways, including tablet, capsule, oral liquid form, and in an intravenous injectable form. The injectable form of Demerol is known to produce the strongest effects and can be extremely dangerous when abused.

Demerol is capable of producing feelings of pleasure and relaxation in replacement of sensations of pain because of how it functions within the central nervous system. It is an opioid, similar to Morphine, which means that it too accomplishes pain relief by changing the way in which opioid receptors within the body work. Demerol attaches to pain receptors to reduce feelings of pain, and instead elicits sensations of giddiness, pleasure, and euphoria in its place. Demerol has also been known to reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, panic, and depression. A Demerol addiction can develop due to a number of different circumstances and situations that are unique to each individual, but often the drug and alcohol addiction develops at least in part due to the feelings of relaxation, pleasure, and euphoria that Demerol imparts.


Morphine vs. Demerol: Side Effects

With any substance, there are a number of different side effects that may develop when it is being taken. The likelihood of displaying side effects often increases when an individual in taking a higher dose. It is important to recognize common side effects in order to be attentive to whether or not a loved one you believe may be addicted to Morphine or Demerol. Below are a number of the most common side effects associated with Morphine and Demerol. While there is some overlap between these side effects, there are a number of notable differences.

Side Effects of Morphine:

  • Cramps
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight Loss
  • Sleepiness
  • Feelings of relaxation and calm
  • Unusual or false sense of well-being
  • Constipation (difficulty having a bowel movement)
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Sweating or chills

Side Effects of Demerol:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Fainting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Decreased urination
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Shallow breathing
  • Seizure
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Clammy skin that is cold to the touch

Demerol vs. Morphine: Street Names

When a substance is purchased illicitly and outside of legal channels, it is often referred to as being purchased “on the street.” As such, many substances that are purchased illicitly garner a number of different street names that are intended to be able to avoid detection when referred to in a public space so as not to attract the attention of law enforcement or strangers. However, as law enforcement continue to crack down on the distribution of drugs illegally, these street names are in a constant state of flux and evolve over time.

The street names associated with Demerol and Morphine are one of the key differences between these two substances. Demerol is often known by names such as D, Dust, Dillies, Juice, or Demmies. Morphine, on the other hand, has earned many more street names. Various street names for Morphine include M, M.S, Miss Emma, Mister Blue, White Stuff, Unkie, God’s Drug, Hows, Monkey, Morf, Morpho, First Fine, Emsel, and Dreamer.

Morphine vs. Demerol: Half Life

The half-life of a substance refers to the period of time that must elapse before roughly half of the substance has been eliminated from the body. This is useful to know in order to understand how long it is possible to detect a substance within the body. This is another area in which Demerol and Morphine present a key difference. The half-life of Morphine is between one and a half to four and a half hours, while the half-life of Demerol is between two and five hours. The half-life of a substance can change depending upon the method by which it is ingested.

Demerol vs. Morphine: Common Signs of Abuse

While Demerol and Morphine possess a number of key differences, one area in which they significantly overlap is the common signs of abuse that arise when an individual has become addicted to them. While there are variances depending upon the individual, there are a number of common Morphine and Demerol addiction symptoms. Below are a handful of the most common psychological, physical and behavioral signs of Demerol or Morphine abuse.

Psychological Symptoms of Addiction to Demerol or Morphine:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Intense mood swings
  • Psychosis
  • Worsened symptoms of a mental illness

Physical Signs of Addiction to Demerol or Morphine:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Sedation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Unusual menstrual cycle
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Coma
  • Heart attack
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation

Behavioral Signs of Addiction to Demerol or Morphine:

  • Visiting multiple doctors to try to obtain multiple prescriptions for Demerol or Morphine: This is a practice that is known as “doctor shopping”. Doctor shopping attempts to circumvent the restrictions placed by a primary physician by visiting multiple doctors and getting a prescription for the same substance.
  • Borrowing or stealing money to purchase Demerol or Morphine: In some cases, individuals may ask to borrow money, or may steal money, from their loved ones or friends in order to purchase more of the substance they are addicted to. This may be extremely uncharacteristic of that individual when they are sober.
  • Withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities: Addiction is a vicious cycle that drive some individuals to focus solely on getting and maintaining their usage of a substance. This may cause some people to withdraw from activities that they previously took pleasure in and valued.
  • Visiting the emergency room with the intent of getting a Demerol or Morphine prescription: If an individual has developed a physical and psychological dependency on a substance, then if they cease taking that substance their body will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Trying to forge a prescription for Demerol or Morphine: Some individuals may resort to stealing a doctor’s prescription pad in order to attempt to forge prescriptions for the substance they are addicted to. This is a risky and drug-seeking behavior that often results in legal consequences if caught.
  • Lying about how much Demerol or Morphine is being taken: Many individuals will attempt to conceal and hide their painkiller addiction and dependency upon a substance by lying to their loved ones and friends about how much they are taking. These medications can begin with a legitimate need, but can quickly spiral into the cycle of addiction due to their heady impact on the central nervous system.
  • Increasing the dose of Demerol or Morphine to achieve the same effect: If an individual has been steadily taking a substance for a prolonged period of time, their body will begin to develop a tolerance. When the body builds up a tolerance to a substance, a larger quantity is needed in order to produce the same effect.
  • Having cravings or an obsession with Demerol or Morphine: When an individual is addicted to a substance, their focus on it can become intense and can take precedence above many other things in their life. If someone is displaying signs that they have cravings for a substance or an obsession with it, then it is an indication that they addicted to it.
  • Concealing Demerol or Morphine at work, in a car, or at home: If an individual is attempting to hide their addiction from those around them, then they may result to drastic measures to make sure that their stash of drugs remains concealed. This may mean hiding their drugs in their home, their car, or even in their workplace.

Now that you know the differences between Demerol and Morphine it will be easier to spot the signs and symptoms of addiction. If you or a loved one is addicted to painkillers, it is important to seek help. Luminance Recovery is a drug treatment center that has helped many people overcome addiction and live a life that is drug free. Call us today to learn more about our treatment options.

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