Meperidine statistics depict a grim picture of how prescription drugs have been turned into agents of peril and death. The most shocking piece of information yet has become the demise of pop idol Michael; an incident which has been linked to Demerol (meperidine), although tangible evidence has not been unearthed.
In essence, it is dispensed by doctors to alleviate severe pain and has morphine-like effects. Meperidine (usually sold under the brand name Demerol; or street name Demmie) is an opiate agonist and has been classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that it is strictly prescribed and administered under a specialist's orders, and most importantly within the recommended doses. Meperidine comes in form of tablets, liquid and intravenous/muscular injections. It has a high abuse liability and doctors advise patients not to distort the original form of the drug.
Most abusers usually crush the drug and swallow, inject or snort it, and the effects are felt 10-15 minutes later with a half-life of 2-4 hours. Although similar to morphine, the structural composition of meperidine is significantly different. It adjusts how the spinal cord and central nervous system perceives pain and simultaneously triggers pleasure centers in the brain. As it blocks pain, it does not affect nerve endings, which makes it very effective in generating a good 'high', and an addiction. Meperidine statistics prove that drug tolerance and dependence occurs quickly, and withdrawal without a proper rehabilitation program only forces the victims back into abuse.
Oral prescriptions of meperidine come in either 25mg or 100mg tablets, or syrups which contain 50mg per 5ml of liquid. This is translated into 50mg every three to four hours for either forms, without any deviations whatsoever. Injection gets a faster body response, and as such is usually half of the oral dose. A shot to the muscle, under the skin or directly into a vein produces effects within ten minutes.
Meperidine statistics show that it was first synthesized as an opium replica for medical use in the 1930s. Since then, it has been widely used exclusively for hospital use and sometimes at-home administration. In as much as it relieves pain effectively, it also has a high tendency to cause physical and psychological addiction. In early 1980s, 15,400 kilos of meperidine were consumed worldwide annually and this figure dropped to 12,200 kilos by 1999; a drop that was attributed to discovery of safer and more effective Schedule II opioids. By 2000, non-medical use of prescription drugs had risen to nine million Americans from the 1998 statistics of 1.6 million Americans.
Every day, addiction counselors and law enforcement officials are shocked at the ever-increasing numbers of prescription-only opioid abuse and subsequent delinquent behavior. In 2000, meperidine statistics by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that there was a 35% drop in medical use of the drug with a 7% surge in ER cases associated with the meperidine.
Among teen abusers, about 20% have used meperidine (Demerol) or other pain-relieving narcotics (such as OxyContin and Vicodin) to get high. Most of them believed that prescription abuse is safe and has no side effects as opposed to 'street' drugs. Students in particular used it in an attempt to improve academic and athletic performance or acquire temporary mood change, where most obtained them from illegal internet purchases or doctor shopping.
CDC meperidine statistics collected between 2004 and 2007 in Washington's Medicaid population showed that 11 out of 1,668 deaths caused by prescription-opioid overdoses were purely attributed to meperidine. During this period, 90% of patients under prescription meperidine misused the drug by increasing dosage and frequency of intake, doctor shopping, and forging prescriptions. Within this state alone, 2.4% of overdose and death cases among those enrolled in the Medicaid program were meperidine-related.
Meperidine has been used for decades, but with the increasing number of abusers and related deaths, its safety and efficacy are being questioned. Medical practitioners are on a quest to trim down the overall amount of prescriptions issued, and substitute the drug for more safe and effective method.
In West Virginia for instance, hospitals have drafted guidelines and policies to govern meperidine usage and are limiting use to critical procedures such as surgery. 64% of the state's hospitals reported low use of meperidine; that is less than a tenth of the total opiates used within the hospital.
In order to reduce meperidine statistics related with detrimental effects and death, absolute adherence to what a doctor prescribes is necessary. Treatment for habitual users must also be careful and comprehensive.