Meperidine Withdrawal

An A to Z guide that outlines medical withdrawal protocols for Meperidine. Find out what this process includes and where to seek help. More here.

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ARTICLE SUMMARY: Withdrawal from meperidine triggers symptoms that minic a bad flu. However, it can also cause increased blood pressure, disorientation, or even hallucinations. So, the safest way to withdraw from Meperidine is under medical supervision. This article reviews common protocols, medications, and treatment processes to make withdrawal less scary. Then, we invite your questions at the end.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: Less than 10 minutes.


Defining Meperidine Withdrawal

Withdrawal is a group of predictable symptoms that occur after abrupt discontinuation of Meperidine. These symptoms appear if you stop – or skip – a Meperidine dose after repeated long term use. Symptoms can be physical or psychological in nature, and are often very uncomfortable. However, withdrawal is a sign of a deeper issue: physical depedence.

In fact, withdrawal symptoms are the primary sign of physical dependence. If you are drug-dependent, your body has become accustomed to the presence of this drug. So, when you break the usual routine of dosing, it requires time in order to adjust. The problem is that the symptoms can drive you right back to drug use..

If you made an attempt to quit Meperidine previously, you may found out that the symptoms you experienced were more severe than you thought. Perhaps you decided to go back to Meperidine just to relieve the painful symptoms. This is fairly normal. In fact, withdrawal symptoms are the primary reason that many people relapse when they try to quit.

You are not alone!

In fact many people experience difficulties quitting Meperidine. What happens and why?

Why Does Meperidine Withdrawal Occur?

Over time, our brains adapt to drugs like Meperidine. The brain must adapt in order to survive. The brain adjusts to depressant effects of the opioid pain reliever by increasing stimulant effects. This is to be sure that your heart continues beating and that you continue to breathe. As time passes, those who become dependent find that Meperidine makes them feel “normal”. Take away the drug and it takes time to balance out again.

As the drug leaves your system, however, the system will start producing the underlying stimulant functions that have kept it in balance: increased heart rate, sweating, and nausea. These sensations can be either physical and/or psychological, making you feel uncomfortable or sometimes in pain. While they are usually not life-threatening, most experts recommend that you SEEK MEDICAL SUPERVISION DURING MEPERIDINE WITHDRAWAL. You’ll have better chances of successful detox and can minimize the discomfort.

Main Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Cold sweats
  • Goose bumps
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Stomach pain
  • Teary eyes
  • Vomiting

Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Drug cravings
  • Hallucinations
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Psychosis

Meperidine Withdrawal Timeline

24 hours. Symptoms of withdrawal usually begin 3- 24 hours after you took your last Meperidine dose. The detoxification journey is marked with anxiety and irritability at the start. Do not be afraid if you feel weird, or your body starts shaking. These reactions are a manifestation of the stimulant effects that have been counterbalancing the depressant effects of Meperidine. They will gradually lessen with time.

Days 2-5. Withdrawal symptoms reach their peak around 72 hours, or Day 3, of withdrawal. This period is characterized by increased headaches, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. Mood swings, anxiety, and depression can also be torubling. Some people have reported struggling with paranoid thinking, mental fog, and muscle aches. Expect the cravings during the first week to be strongest.

Days 6-14. Once you’ve successfully passed through the first week of detox…CONGRATULATIONS! You have reached the first stage of acute detox. Keep going. Since you’ve endured the worse, things should become easier from now on. During the second week, people report that most symptoms begin to fade. If any physical sensations occurs, they should be mild. However, psychological symptoms begin to present and may vary in strength.

Days 15 and beyond. Cravings for Meperidine may still be present, but the other symptoms should subside. Sometimes, post-acute withdrawal symptoms such as sleeping problems or mood disorders can persist in the weeks and months to come. For this reason, it’s helpful to check in regularly with a supervising doctor. The long-term changes to dopamine systems in your brain can be treated with short-term use of medications.

NOTE HERE: All Meperidine users are advised to consult a doctor before quitting the medication, or to complete withdrawal in a medical detox program guided by professionals.


Before doctors prescribe typical medications used during opioid detox…you may actually benefit from slow dose reduction of Meperidine itself. During a professionally guided detox, doctors will usually put you on a tapering regime. This means that you will slowly lower your Meperidine doses over a period of days or weeks. The tapering method helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and is safer than quitting abruptly.

Sometimes, a physician will prescribe some of the following medications to help with the withdrawal process.

1. Antidepressants. Anyone going though detox for Meperidine should be checked for depression and other mental illnesses. Treating these disorders can reduce the risk of relapse. Antidepressant medicines are usually prescribed as needed for short-term use of 3-6 months.

2.Benzodiazepines like clonazepam, trazodone and Zolpidem have been used for insomnia related to withdrawal, but the decision to use a benzodiazepine should be taken with care.

3. Buprenorphine. Two medications are commonly used to treat Meperidine withdrawal: Suboxone and Subutex. Both of these medications delay painful symptoms since they have buprenorphine in their formula, an opioid drug. Besides buprenorphine, Suboxone also contains Naloxone, which prevents the euphoric effects of Meperidine, making relapse less likely.

4. Clonidine is an antihypertensive drug that has been used to facilitate opioid withdrawal for more than 25 years. It works by reducing symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, but symptoms such as insomnia, lethargy, muscle aches and restlessness may not be effectively treated with this medication.

5. Lofexidine is an analogue of clonidine, has been recently approved to address most symptoms of opioid withdrawal. In fact, it can be as effective as clonidine… with less hypotension and sedation. The combination of lofexidine with low doses of naloxone appears to improve retention symptoms and time to relapse.

6. Methadone. Methadone can be used to replace Meperidine to prevent withdrawal symptoms. The trick behind this treatment is that with regular dosing, most people will gradually diminish the cravings for it.

7. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks your ability to get high on Meperidine. It also helps cut cravings. It has no potential for abuse and no addictive properties.

Symptomatic treatment. This includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or ketorolac tromethamine used for muscle cramps or pain; bismuth subsalicylate for diarrhea; prochlorperazine or ondansetron for nausea and vomiting; and a2-adrenergic agents (e.g., clonidine) for flu-like symptoms. Vitamin and mineral supplements are often administered.

Safety During Meperidine Withdrawal

While you can detox from Meperidine at home, it’s much safer to go through withdrawal at a licensed detox clinic. Specialized clinics have professional teams of doctors and nurses who can monitor your state as you eliminate Meperidine from your system. They can medically assist you in any way needed. Your condition will be followed and an on-site doctor will perform daily evaluations in the first days, or weeks if you stay longer.

In sum, professionally supervised detox can make the withdrawal process SAFER and much more bearable. You don’t have to wait to hit the rock bottom before checking into detox. People check themselves in voluntarily every day.

Self-Care During Meperidine Withdrawal

Besides the support and the daily care you’ll be given at a licensed detox clinic, you can use these self-care tips to cope easily with all the challenges Meperidine withdrawal brings.

TIP 1: Don’t think things will miraculously change in a short amount of time.

False expectations about detox can sabotage you. You probably grew impatient the minute you walked into the clinic. The wish to rush through the whole process and “be done with it” can lead to relapse. Be aware of one thing before you start walking your journey to sobriety: “There is no quick recipe for success”. You are going to need to put all your energy into making your sobriety a long-lasting condition.

Who wants to remain feeling anxious, scared or paranoid all the time? No one. We get that. But things can’t be fixed overnight. Your body needs time to get its balance back. Just as your dependence problem hasn’t developed overnight it cannot disappear overnight. Give yourself the time to recover from the effects Meperidine has inflicted over your health.

TIP 2: Join a group therapy and reach out for support.

Withdrawal is one thing. Staying off Meperidine – a very addictive drug – is another. However, you can get a head start during withdrawal. Many 12-step programs are very effective in helping people work on their motivation and self-esteem during treatment. Detoxification is hard enough on itself and without the proper support, caring and understanding people around you, recovery seems impossible. Having someone beside you can make a great difference in withdrawal. When you feel like you are about to relapse, your support is there to remind you to keep going.

TIP 3: Change your eating habits and drink a lot of fluids.

Water, fresh fruit, and vegetables should be the top 3 ingredients on your diet list. Being hydrated during withdrawal and detox will tremendously help your body’s regeneration. Also, consult with your physician about the use of vitamin supplements or nutritional supplements…can they help you? Your case is individual, so seek nutritional advice from the experts.

TIP 4: Learn to breathe deeply.

Breathing techniques learned through yoga and meditation can help you calm yourself naturally when feeling anxious, or stressed. Get online and follow a meditation. Or, ignore this tip and just distract yourself. Whatever you need to get through the moment!

TIP 5: Engage in physical activity.

Exercise helps you develop physical and psychological strength. Being well prepared for the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms shows a strong spirit and readiness for success. When you start to move your body, you’re releasing endorphins, natural feel-good brain chemicals that can help lift up your mood and fight against the depressive episodes which are a common part of the withdrawal experience. So, try 20 minutes of exercise. Or take a warm bath or sauna to sweat it out.

TIP 6: Express your feelings.

Stop controlling your feelings and just let yourself feel. You might find helpful to talk to somebody about the mental and emotional struggles you are going through. Have you considered talking to a therapist? You can always make a quick phone call and talk to a friend, and/or ask someone to stay with you during critical times and crisis.

TIP 7: Keep a journal.

Journaling your feelings can also help you process them and distract you from any of the negative emotions you may be experiencing during withdrawal. All you need is a pen and paper or a laptop, and you can write each experience during the day.

Supporting Someone In Meperidine Withdrawal

Withdrawal can cause unusual physical and psychological reactions. This can make you unsure about how to proceed. The person can be tempermental, or explode! What do you do then?

The most important thing you can do for a loved one in detox is be there, available, and provide encouragement.

So, when your friend or loved one is quitting Meperidine, there are a few adjustment you can make to help. For example, make an attempt to exchange anger with kindness, disagreement with understanding. Exchange your frustration with calmness.

Plus, you will have to learn how to be patient, gentle, and provide comfort in verbal and nonverbal ways. As an example, hold his/her hand, hug him/her, say that they are strong and you are proud of them for starting this journey. Sometimes a single “Everything is going to be OK” works. Allow your loved one to express any kind of emotion in your presence. Let him/her know that its ok to cry and be angry.

The following tips can help you cope better with your loved ones emotional withdrawal period and provide the support he/she needs:

TIP #1: Learn more about Meperidine withdrawal and what it includes. 

Focus your attention on finding out how most people feel, what are the stages of withdrawal, and how withdrawal develops. The more knowledgeable you are about this challenging journey, the better prepared you’ll be to cope with its stages. This will also help you become more understanding and accepting of you loved ones experience.

TIP #2: Listen actively.

Meperidine withdrawal can be overwhelming and your loved one may be traumatized. Talking about the struggles we are going through gives us a whole other perspective. Plus, sharing your difficulties with someone makes them less worrying. Withdrawal is a big individual experience that needs to be talked about. The most important thing you as a loved one should remember is to listen actively and without judgment. Keep in mind that non-verbal communication can be powerful and your warmth acceptance, expression, tone of your voice and body language can have even greater impact than your words.

TIP #3: Release expectations.

Accept that you have no control over the recovery process so that you don’t feel responsible nor pressured. Each person’s withdrawal experience with Meperidine is unique and unpredictable. You may have to provide support for a much longer period than you anticipated.

Overcoming Fear Of Withdrawal

Fear is a basic human emotion. In fact, fear should not be categorized as simply a negative emotion. Without fear, we would not be able to act when a danger threatens our existence. But the problem with fear is that sometimes fear is unreal and is not connected with a real threat. This type of fear acts as a blockage, keeping those in withdrawal trapped in a mental limbo.

In order to stop being afraid from the withdrawal experience, you need to face your fears.

Start digging a little deeper into what it is you’re exactly afraid of. When you face your fears, you’re not only removing a big stumbling block in front of you. You are also preparing yourself to do the things that you are capable of doing. To help you get through the fear, try the following techniques:

Relaxation techniques prevent fear from turning to panic. They include both breathing and meditation to reduce the stress and prevent the further development of a sickness for people who face a great deal of turmoil in their lives.

Mindfulness meditation allows people to observe their fears more objectively. This technique involves focusing on the present, rather than going back to the past, or wonder to the future. During a session, you can learn to view fears as just a reaction in their mind that can be controlled.

Try to go through withdrawal with a positive mindset. If you’re addicted to Meperidine and want to quit, but you’re scared of what will happen during the withdrawal phase, all you need is few seconds of courage and you’ll realize that it’s over. And when it is, you’ll congratulate yourself that you finally did it.

It is understandable to have a little excitement and fear before starting Meperidine withdrawal. In the end, you will change your whole life. But this change is always for the better. When your health and your life are at stake, there is no room for compromise. When Meperidine has to be eliminated and your body cleaned from it…reach out for help.

Your Questions

In this article, we’ve offered a detailed look at detoxification from Meperidine. However, if you have any additional questions, or you simply want to share how your experience with quitting synthetic opioids went, feel free to post below. We will make sure to respond to your real-life questions as soon as possible.

Reference Sources: Medline Plus: Meperidine
Medline Plus: Opiate and opioid withdrawal
NCBI: History of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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