Demerol vs. Morphine

Learn more about demerol vs. morphine uses, side effects, dangers, and available treatment options for addiction here.

Demerol vs. Morphine: Introduction

Demerol and morphine are two commonly used opioid drugs for pain management. Both drugs have been used for a long time but have advantages and disadvantages. This article will compare demerol vs. morphine. We’ll look at how they work, the risks of using them, how addictive they can be, and how to get addiction help.

Demerol vs. Morphine

Demerol vs. Morphine: Side-by-Side Comparison

Demerol, also known by its generic name meperidine, is a synthetic opioid first synthesized in the 1930s. It is chemically similar to morphine but has a shorter duration of action and a faster onset of action. Demerol is used to manage moderate to severe pain, such as pain associated with surgery, childbirth, or trauma.

Morphine is a naturally occurring opioid that is extracted from the opium poppy. It has been in use since the early 19th century. Morphine is one of the most potent pain relievers available. It is used to manage severe pain, such as pain associated with cancer, surgery, or trauma.

How Do They Work?

Both demerol and morphine work by attaching to certain parts of the brain and central nervous system called opioid receptors. By binding to these receptors, they help to relieve pain and produce feelings of euphoria. They also carry a high risk of addiction and dependence, especially when used over a prolonged period.

Demerol and morphine are considered Schedule II controlled substances in the US. This means they have a high risk of being abused and becoming addicted. You can only get demerol and morphine if a doctor prescribes them to you. Before prescribing these drugs, healthcare providers think about their patient’s pain levels, medical history, and chances of getting addicted.1

Demerol vs. Morphine: Chemical Composition and Mechanism of Action

Demerol and morphine both belong to the class of drugs known as opioid agonists. They bind to the mu-opioid receptors in the brain, which are responsible for producing these drugs’ analgesic and euphoric effects. This makes it harder for pain signals to travel around the body. They also cause the neurotransmitter dopamine to be released in the brain, which makes people feel pleasure and reward. These effects contribute to the analgesic and euphoric properties of these drugs.

Demerol vs. Morphine Chemical Structure

Demerol has a different chemical structure that gives it a shorter duration of action and a faster onset of action. Demerol metabolizes in the liver and is excreted in the urine.

Morphine’s complex chemical structure makes it one of the most potent pain relievers available. Morphine is metabolized in the liver and excreted in the urine and feces.

Demerol vs. Morphine Tolerance

Prolonged use of demerol and morphine can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Over time, the brain and body adapt to the presence of these drugs, and higher doses are needed to produce the same effects. It can lead to psychological dependence and physical on these drugs, and withdrawal symptoms can occur when they are discontinued.2

Dangers and Risks of Demerol vs. Morphine

Both drugs carry significant risks and dangers, especially when misused or without medical supervision. Some of the dangers and risks associated with demerol vs. morphine are detailed below.

Addiction and Dependence

Both demerol and morphine are highly addictive. Prolonged use can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when discontinued, which can be very uncomfortable. They include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and anxiety.

Based on the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 2 million people in the United States had a prescription opioid use disorder in 2018.

Respiratory Depression

One of the risks associated with opioid use is respiratory depression, slowing or stopping breathing. It can occur at high doses and be especially dangerous for individuals with underlying respiratory conditions or using other drugs that depress the respiratory system, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.


An overdose can occur when a person takes too many drugs or combines them with other substances that depress the respiratory system. Symptoms of an overdose may include extreme drowsiness, confusion, slowed breathing, and unconsciousness.

Abuse and Diversion

Demerol and morphine are frequently abused and diverted for non-medical purposes. It can lead to addiction and other negative consequences, such as legal problems, financial difficulties, and social isolation.

Demerol vs. Morphine Side Effects

Both demerol and morphine can cause a range of side effects. They may be severe or mild depending on the individual and the dose. Common side effects include vomiting, nausea, constipation, dizziness, and sedation. More serious side effects may include seizures, hallucinations, and respiratory depression.

Interactions with Other Drugs

Demerol and morphine can interact with other medicines, including alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other opioids. This increases the risk of respiratory depression and overdose.

Risk for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

If a woman takes these drugs during pregnancy, the baby may be born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. This is a group of symptoms that occur when a baby is exposed to opioids in the womb. Symptoms may include irritability, tremors, seizures, and difficulty feeding.

Demerol vs. Morphine Addiction and Treatment Options

Various treatment options are available for individuals struggling with addiction to Demerol or Morphine. These options are detailed below.


The first step in treating addiction is to undergo detoxification. It is the process of eliminating the drug from the body and managing withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification may be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Medical supervision is typically required to ensure the process is safe and effective.


Medications may help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for opioids. These medications include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. They work by interacting with the same receptors in the brain affected by opioids, but they do not produce the same euphoric effects. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often part of a comprehensive treatment plan for opioid addiction.

Behavioral Therapies

People can learn ways to deal with cravings and avoid relapse with the help of behavioral therapies. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management are two common approaches to treating opioid addiction.

Support Groups

Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery give people a group of peers who understand what it’s like to struggle with addiction and can offer encouragement and advice.

Holistic Therapies

Holistic therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga can also be helpful in the treatment of opioid addiction. These therapies can help people manage stress and improve overall well-being, supporting recovery.

Pros and Cons of Using Demerol vs. Morphine

The pros and cons of using demerol vs. morphine are important when deciding whether to use these drugs for pain management.

Pros of Demerol Use

Some pros to using demerol include:

  • Effective pain relief: Demerol is a powerful pain reliever that effectively manages moderate to severe pain.
  • Quick onset: Demerol works quickly, typically within 15 to 30 minutes, providing rapid pain relief.
  • Short duration of action: Demerol’s effects typically last for 2-4 hours, which can benefit patients who need pain relief but do not want to feel drowsy or sedated for an extended period.

Pros of Morphine Use

Some pros to using morphine include:

  • Effective pain relief: Morphine is a highly effective pain reliever, especially for severe pain.
  • Long duration of action: Morphine’s effects can last up to 6 hours, providing more extended pain relief than Demerol.
  • Widely used and well-studied: Morphine is one of the oldest and most commonly studied pain medications, making it a well-understood and trusted option for pain management.

Cons of Demerol Use

Some cons to using demerol include:

  • High risk of addiction: Demerol is highly addictive and has a high potential for abuse and dependence.
  • Risk of side effects: Demerol can cause various side effects, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and confusion.

Cons of Morphine Use

Some cons to using morphine include:3
  • High risk of addiction: Morphine has an increased risk of abuse and dependence, especially with long-term use.
  • Side effects: Morphine can cause various side effects, including nausea, vomiting, constipation, dizziness, and drowsiness.
  • Respiratory depression: Morphine can suppress the respiratory system, leading to shallow breathing, which can be dangerous or even life-threatening in some cases.

Usage and Popularity of Demerol vs. Morphine

In terms of popularity, morphine is more commonly used than demerol. Demerol has recently lost popularity because it is easy to abuse and become dependent on. It is now considered a second-line medication for pain management, with other opioids like Morphine and oxycodone being preferred.

Demerol vs. Morphine Prescription Frequency

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that more than 11 million prescriptions for morphine were written in the United States in 2019. By comparison, Demerol is prescribed much less frequently, with only 300,000 prescriptions written in the same year.

Demerol vs. Morphine Recreational Use and Abuse

Both demerol and morphine are sometimes abused recreationally. It is highly dangerous and can lead to addiction, overdose, and other serious health consequences. It is essential only to use these medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider. Based on the report to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 7.9 million people aged 12 or older abused prescription pain relievers like demerol and morphine in 2019.

While both demerol and morphine have legitimate medical uses, they should be used cautiously due to their potential for addiction and other risks. Healthcare providers and patients should work together to carefully consider their use and explore alternative pain management options when possible.4

Demerol vs. Morphine

Demerol vs. Morphine Information and Addiction Treatment at Essence Healthcare

Demerol vs. morphine research can be overwhelming if you’re looking for help. If you or someone you know or you are struggling with an addiction to demerol or morphine, Essence Healthcare is here to help.

What We Offer

At Essence Healthcare, we help people who are addicted to opioids like demerol and morphine. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals uses proven methods to help patients break their addictions and stay healthy for a long time.

We offer various services, including detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and ongoing support. We understand that everyone’s journey to sobriety looks different. Our caring and understanding staff works closely with each patient to create a personalized treatment plan that meets their needs and goals.

Contact Essence Healthcare Today

If you are ready to overcome your addiction, we are here to help. Reach out to Essence Healthcare today to learn more about our addiction treatment services and how we can support your journey toward a healthier, happier life.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.