Demerol® brand of meperidine is a synthetic opiate narcotic. It is used for the relief of severe pain that has failed to respond to more specific agents. The drug is commonly used for headache treatment in the emergency room. However, it is not a medication well suited for many patients. The drug has a short half-life, which is a measure of how long the medication remains in the body. Therefore, the pain often recurs after several hours. The medication can make nausea symptoms worse and usually is given with an anti-nausea medication. It is very sedating. When used several times in a day, it produces a metabolic byproduct that is toxic to the nervous system. With this agent, as with other opiates, rebound headaches can occur from its use more than several days out of every week. Additionally, all narcotics are prone to habituation, dependence and addiction. There is new research that suggests the use of narcotic pain medications may interfere with a headache sufferers’ ability to obtain pain-free results with appropriate migraine specific medications.
Narcotic medications, such as Demerol®, are NOT first-line treatment for migraine, tension-type, cluster or other primary headache conditions. Discuss this medication with your headache care provider before ever using it.