|Summary sheet: Pethidine|
|Common names||Pethidine, Meperidine, Demerol, Dolantin, Dolcontral|
|Systematic name||Ethyl 1-methyl-4-phenylpiperidine-4-carboxylate|
|Routes of Administration|
|Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors|
|Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors|
Pethidine, known as meperidine in the United States (sold under the brand name Demerol), is a synthetic opioid analgesic used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Compared to traditional opioids such as morphine, pethidine was originially thought to be much safer and have less potential for abuse. It was later discovered that pethidine is significantly less safe than morphine and its metabolite norpethidine can be extremely toxic.
Pethidine is an opioid in the phenylpiperidine class.
Opioids exert their effects by binding to and activating the μ-opioid receptor. This occurs because opioids structurally mimic endogenous endorphins which are naturally found within the body and also work upon the μ-opioid receptor set. The way in which opioids structurally mimic these natural endorphins results in their euphoria, pain relief and anxiolytic effects. This is because endorphins are responsible for reducing pain, causing sleepiness, and feelings of pleasure. They can be released in response to pain, strenuous exercise, orgasm, or general excitement. The bioavailability of orally administered pethidine can vary from 50% to around 60%.
Compared to traditional opioids, pethidine has a very unique pharmacological profile. In addition to being an opioid, pethidine is also a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist. Pethidine is also a dopamine reuptake inhibitor and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Pethidine is a κ-opioid agonist and its metabolite norpethidine is also an extremely powerful serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
Disclaimer: The effects listed below are cited from the Subjective Effect Index (SEI), which relies on assorted anecdotal reports and the personal experiences of PsychonautWiki contributors. As a result, they should be taken with a healthy amount of skepticism. It is worth noting that these effects will not necessarily occur in a consistent or reliable manner, although higher doses (common+) are more likely to induce the full spectrum of reported effects. Likewise, adverse effects become much more likely on higher doses and may include serious injury or death. Many users note that they find pethidine just as, or more euphoric than oxycodone.
The general sensation of pethidine can be described as one of euphoria, relaxation, anxiety suppression and pain relief.
- Pain relief
- Physical euphoria - This particular substance can be considered as very intense in its physical euphoria. The sensation itself can be described as extreme feelings of intense physical comfort, warmth, love and bliss.
- Respiratory depression - At low to moderate doses, this effect results in the sensation that the breath is slowed down mildly to moderately, but does not cause noticeable impairment. At high doses and overdoses, opioid-induced respiratory depression can result in a shortness of breath, abnormal breathing patterns, semi-consciousness, or unconsciousness. Severe overdoses can result in a coma or death without immediate medical attention.
- Cough suppression
- Difficulty urinating
- Sedation or Stimulation - While most users report that they find pethidine to be considerably sedating, others report it to be stimulating.
- Pupil constriction
- Decreased libido
- Appetite suppression
- Orgasm suppression
- Seizures - High doses of pethidine may cause seizures. This is because of its metabolite norpethidine.
- Acuity suppression - Pethidine is a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist which may cause blurred vision at high doses.
There are currently no anecdotal reports which describe the effects of this compound within our experience index. Additional experience reports can be found here:
Toxicity and harm potential
Pethidine has a high toxicity relative to dose. As with all opioids, long-term effects can vary but can include diminished libido, apathy and memory loss. It is also potentially lethal when mixed with depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines and generally has a wider range of substances which it is dangerous to combine with in comparison to other opioids.
One of pethdine's metabolites, norpethidine has little to no opioid action, but is known to cause seizures. Pethidine should not be taken during benzodiazepine withdrawals as this can potentially cause seizures. In 1984, Libby Zion, a teenager was brought to the emergency room due to a "flu-like" ailment. She was previously prescribed and taking phenelzine, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, which in combination caused fatal serotonin syndrome.
It is strongly recommended that one use harm reduction practices when using this drug.
Tolerance and addiction potential
As with other opioids, the chronic use of pethidine can be considered extremely addictive with a high potential for abuse and is capable of causing psychological dependence among certain users. When addiction has developed, cravings and withdrawal symptoms may occur if a person suddenly stops their usage.
Tolerance to many of the effects of pethidine develops with prolonged and repeated use. The rate at which this occurs develops at different rates for different effects, with tolerance to the constipation-inducing effects developing particularly slowly for instance. This results in users having to administer increasingly large doses to achieve the same effects. After that, it takes about 3 - 7 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 1 - 2 weeks to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). Pethidine presents cross-tolerance with all other opioids, meaning that after the consumption of pethidine all opioids will have a reduced effect.
The risk of fatal opioid overdoses rise sharply after a period of cessation and relapse, largely because of reduced tolerance. To account for this lack of tolerance, it is safer to only dose a fraction of one's usual dosage if relapsing. It has also been found that the environment one is in can play a role in opioid tolerance. In one scientific study, rats with the same history of heroin administration were significantly more likely to die after receiving their dose in an environment not associated with the drug in contrast to a familiar environment.
Although many psychoactive substances are reasonably safe to use on their own, they can quickly become dangerous or even life-threatening when combined with other substances. The list below includes some known dangerous combinations (although it cannot be guaranteed to include all of them). Independent research (e.g. Google, DuckDuckGo) should always be conducted to ensure that a combination of two or more substances is safe to consume. Some interactions listed have been sourced from TripSit.
- Alcohol - Both substances potentiate the ataxia and sedation caused by the other and can lead to unexpected loss of consciousness at high doses. Place affected patients in the recovery position to prevent vomit aspiration from excess. Memory blackouts are likely
- Amphetamines - Stimulants increase respiration rate which allows for a higher dose of opiates than would otherwise be used. If the stimulant wears off first then the opiate may overcome the user and cause respiratory arrest.
- Benzodiazepines - Central nervous system and/or respiratory-depressant effects may be additively or synergistically present. The two substances potentiate each other strongly and unpredictably, very rapidly leading to unconsciousness. While unconscious, vomit aspiration is a risk if not placed in the recovery position blackouts/memory loss likely.
- Cocaine - Stimulants increase respiration rate which allows for a higher dose of opiates than would otherwise be used. If the stimulant wears off first then the opiate may overcome the patient and cause respiratory arrest.
- DXM - CNS depression, difficult breathing, heart issues, hepatoxic, just very unsafe combination all around. Additionally if one takes DXM, their tolerance of opiates goes down slightly, thus causing additional synergistic effects.
- GHB/GBL - The two substances potentiate each other strongly and unpredictably, very rapidly leading to unconsciousness. While unconscious, vomit aspiration is a risk if not placed in the recovery position
- Ketamine - Both substances bring a risk of vomiting and unconsciousness. If the user falls unconscious while under the influence there is a severe risk of vomit aspiration if they are not placed in the recovery position.
- MAOIs - Coadministration of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) with certain opioids has been associated with rare reports of severe and fatal adverse reactions. There appear to be two types of interaction, an excitatory and a depressive one. Symptoms of the excitatory reaction may include agitation, headache, diaphoresis, hyperpyrexia, flushing, shivering, myoclonus, rigidity, tremor, diarrhea, hypertension, tachycardia, seizures, and coma. Death has occurred in some cases.
- MXE - This combination can potentiate the effects of the opioid
- Nitrous - Both substances potentiate the ataxia and sedation caused by the other and can lead to unexpected loss of consciousness at high doses. While unconscious, vomit aspiration is a risk if not placed in the recovery position. Memory blackouts are likely.
- PCP - PCP can reduce opioid tolerance, increasing the risk of overdose.
- Tramadol - Concomitant use of tramadol increases the seizure risk in patients taking other opioids. These agents are often individually epileptogenic and may have additive effects on seizure threshold during coadministration. Central nervous system- and/or respiratory-depressant effects may be additively or synergistically present
Serotonin syndrome risk
Pethidine is known to have a significantly increased chance of causing serotonin syndrome than other serotonergic opioids such as tramadol. Combinations with the following substances can cause dangerously high serotonin levels. Serotonin syndrome requires immediate medical attention and can be fatal if left untreated.
- MAOIs such as syrian rue, banisteriopsis caapi, 2C-T-7, αMT, phenelzine, selegiline, and moclobemide
- Serotonin releasers such as MDMA, 4-FA, methamphetamine, methylone and αMT
- Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as tramadol and DXM
This legality section is a stub.
As such, it may contain incomplete or wrong information. You can help by expanding it.
- Germany: Pethidine is a controlled substance under Anlage III of the BtMG. It can only be prescribed on a narcotic prescription form.
- Russia: Pethidine is a Schedule I controlled substance.
- United Kingdom: Pethidine is a Class A, Schedule 2 drug in the United Kingdom.
- United States: Pethidine is a Schedule II Controlled Substance.
- Risks of Combining Depressants (Tripsit) | https://tripsit.me/combining-depressants/
- Meperidine: A Critical Review | https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11575123_Meperidine_A_Critical_Review
- Subjective, Psychomotor, and Physiological Effects of Cumulative Doses of Opioid μ Agonists in Healthy Volunteers | http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/289/3/1454.long
- Serotonin Syndrome and the Libby Zion Affair | http://epmonthly.com/article/serotonin-syndrome-and-the-libby-zion-affair/
- Why Heroin Relapse Often Ends In Death - Lauren F Friedman (Business Insider) | http://www.businessinsider.com.au/philip-seymour-hoffman-overdose-2014-2
- Siegel, S., Hinson, R., Krank, M., & McCully, J. (1982). Heroin “overdose” death: contribution of drug-associated environmental cues. Science, 216(4544), 436–437. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.7200260
- Gillman, P. K. (2005). Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, opioid analgesics and serotonin toxicity. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 95(4), 434-441. https://doi.org/10.1093/bja/aei210
- Постановление Правительства РФ от 01.10.2012 N 1002 (ред. от 09.08.2019) | https://www.consultant.ru/cons/cgi/online.cgi?req=doc&base=LAW&n=331879&dst=100187&date=03.12.2019
- UK Controlled Drugs | https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/controlled-drugs-list--2/list-of-most-commonly-encountered-drugs-currently-controlled-under-the-misuse-of-drugs-legislation
- DEA Controlled Substances | https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/orangebook/e_cs_sched.pdf