Updated on November 13, 2023
5 min read

What Is Darvocet, and Why Is It Addictive and Banned?

What is Darvocet?

Darvocet (generic name Propoxyohene) is a partial opiate agonist and pain reliever made from propoxyphene and acetaminophen. As a partial opiate agonist, it doesn't have the same effects as full agonists like heroin or morphine on the brain's opioid receptors.

The Medication comes in the form of control-release pills. These pills are taken orally and dissolve into the bloodstream.

Darvocet was classified as a Schedule IV narcotic before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban. Although it's not considered as addictive as Schedule I, II, or III drugs, it still has the potential for misuse. Especially if taken in larger doses.1

Why Is Darvocet Banned?

The FDA announced that Darvocet shouldn't be used or prescribed due to the cardiac risks associated with propoxyphene. Data shows that propoxyphene can cause serious toxicity to the heart and cause fatal heart rhythm abnormalities.3

Darvocet can also lead to opioid addiction, fatal overdose, and suicide ideation. Because of this, the FDA banned the use of Darvocet. The health risks overweight its benefits as a pain killer.3

If you are taking propoxyphene, stop immediately. Talk to your doctor about an alternative pain medication treatment.

Who is at Risk When Taking Darvocet?

Everyone is at risk of Darvocet's adverse effects; because of this, no one should take it. However, certain people are at high risk of negative side effects from Darvocet use.

These include people with:

  • Pancreatic or gallbladder disorder
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Breathing disorders such as asthma and sleep apnea
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Mental illness
  • Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • Substance abuse problems

Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

How Does Darvocet Work?

Propoxyphene is a narcotic pain reliever, while acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever and fever reducer.4 Both function in tandem to relieve mild to moderate pain and fevers.

Propoxyphene enhances pain tolerance and reduces discomfort but doesn't eliminate pain.5 On the other hand, acetaminophen is an antipyretic and non-narcotic analgesic that reduces pain and fever by impacting the brain's heat-regulating region.2

Get Professional Help

BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Rehab Together

What are the Side Effects of Darvocet? 

Using Darvocet can cause side effects that range from mild to severe. If you experience any of the following, seek immediate medical attention:

Mild side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • General weakness and discomfort
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Upset stomach and constipation

Severe side effects:6

  • Liver damage and inflammation
  • Cardiac/respiratory arrest
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Myocardial infarction (MI)
  • Hives
  • Skin damage due to allergies
  • Seizures
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Decreased blood platelets
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Erythema (reddening of the skin and mucous membrane)
  • Insomnia

Is Darvocet Addictive?

Narcotic pain relievers like Darvocet can be addictive. Mixing it with other substances can also increase the risk of drug or alcohol abuse.

Although it has been banned for medical use, some people may use it for recreational purposes or self-medication. This can potentially lead to addiction and misuse.

Symptoms of Darvocet misuse include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired vision
  • Nausea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite

Darvocet misuse has a variety of psychological and physical consequences. Darvocet addiction can negatively affect your life and requires professional assistance to overcome it.

Symptoms of Darvocet Addiction

  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Lying to get more doses from your physician
  • Signs of jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin)
  • Engaging in dangerous behavior, such as theft
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Stealing prescriptions from other patients
  • Drastic mood changes
  • Taking the drug through unusual means, such as snorting
  • Neglecting daily activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

Phone, Video, or Live-Chat Support

BetterHelp provides therapy in a way that works for YOU. Fill out the questionnaire, get matched, begin therapy.

Get Started

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

Darvocet Withdrawal Symptoms

If you suddenly stop taking Darvocet, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor to help prevent withdrawal symptoms before stopping.

Symptoms of Darvocet withdrawal include:

  • Restlessness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Changes in respiratory rate
  • Increased anxiety or depression
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Back and joint pain
  • Muscle pain or cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness

What Drugs Interact With Darvocet?

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants and other medications that cause sleepiness can negatively interact with Darvocet. It can slow down breathing and cause respiratory depression.

The substances that can interact with Darvocet include but are not limited to:

  • Cold or allergy medications
  • alcohol
  • Sleeping pills
  • Birth control pills
  • Seizure medications such as lamotrigine, carbamazepine, and others
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Antidepressants
  • Blood thinners (e.g., warfarin)
  • Dexamethasone (Decadron, Hexadrol)
  • Aspirin
  • Diuretics (e.g., furosemide, Lasix)
  • Antibiotics such as clarithromycin, erythromycin, rifampin, and other medications
  • Antifungals
  • HIV and AIDS medications such as fosamprenavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, and others
  • St. John’s Wort

Treatment Options for Darvocet Use & Addiction

Addiction to Darvocet or other propoxyphene-based medications may be difficult to overcome. But it is achievable with the right resources and help. 

Quitting propoxyphene-based drugs may be very difficult and can lead to a relapse. Only a drug addiction treatment provider should provide advice, diagnosis, or treatment for Darvocet addiction.

Available treatment options include:

  • Medical detox: Medically supervised detox used to avoid harmful withdrawal effects
  • Inpatient programs: Inpatient treatment centers are comprehensive treatment programs that provide 24/7 medical supervision and support
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs): Provide the same medical services as inpatient treatment programs, but you are allowed to return home at night
  • Outpatient Programs: A less comprehensive program compared to inpatient and PHPs but offer a flexible treatment option organized around your schedule
  • Support Groups: Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Provide a much-needed community to help maintain sobriety after treatment


Darvocet is a partial opioid agonist and pain reliever that combines propoxyphene and acetaminophen. However, it was banned by the FDA due to the drug's dangerous side effects.

It was classified as a Substance IV narcotic before the FDA banned it. Although these substances aren't as addictive as Schedule I, II, and III substances they can still be addictive.

Darvocet's side effects can cause fatal heart problems, suicide, and addiction. It shouldn't be prescribed or used by anyone, especially people with pre-existing health conditions.

Get matched with an affordable mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Updated on November 13, 2023

Related Pages