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Updated on September 26, 2022

Darvocet

What is Darvocet?

Darvocet is a pain reliever made from the combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen.

Propoxyphene is a narcotic pain reliever.4 Acetaminophen is a moderate pain reliever and fever reducer that enhances propoxyphene’s effects.

Darvocet is classified as a partial opiate agonist. It does not have the same effects on the brain’s opioid receptors as full agonists like heroin and morphine.

This medication comes in the form of control-release pills, which dissolve into the bloodstream once administered by mouth.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending against continued prescribing and use of the pain reliever propoxyphene because new data show that the drug can cause serious toxicity to the heart, even when used at therapeutic doses.

FDA has requested that companies voluntarily withdraw propoxyphene from the United States market.

FDA [11-19-2010]

Up until the FDA’s office ban on Darvocet, the medication was classified as a Schedule IV narcotic. Although drugs in this class are not considered as addictive as those classified as schedule I, II, and III, the drug has the potential for misuse if taken in large doses.1

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What is Darvocet Used For?

Darvocet is composed of propoxyphene and acetaminophen. Both play a role in pain and fever relief.

Propoxyphene enhances pain tolerance and reduces discomfort, but it does not eliminate pain.5 Propoxyphene induces drowsiness and respiratory depression in addition to pain relief.

Acetaminophen is an antipyretic and non-narcotic analgesic (fever reducer).2 It reduces pain and fever by impacting the brain’s heat-regulating region.

Propoxyphene and acetaminophen were used together to provide greater pain relief than either drug alone. However, the cardiac risks of propoxyphene have proven that this drug should not be used.

How to Take Darvocet Correctly 

Darvocet has been banned for medical use. Your doctor should not prescribe it to you.

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

An overdose of Darvocet may lead to liver damage.6

Patients are at a high risk for adverse effects from Darvocet if they have:

  • Pancreatic or gallbladder disorder
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Breathing disorders such as asthma and sleep apnea
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Mental illness or history of addiction

If you stop using Darvocet abruptly, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent withdrawal symptoms before stopping.

What are the Side Effects of Darvocet? 

Understanding the side effects of Darvocet is important, especially in identifying users of the drug. These side effects range from mild to severe.

Less severe:

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

Severe:

  • 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

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What Drugs Interact With Darvocet?

Medications that cause sleepiness or slow down breathing can interact with Darvocet negatively.

These medications include:

  • Cold or allergy medications
  • 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

This is not a complete list of drugs that interact with Darvocet.

The important thing is to let your doctor know about all the prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs you’re taking. This should include vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal products, or narcotic drugs.

Is Darvocet Habit-Forming (Addictive)?

Because Darvocet is a potent pain reliever, it’s highly addictive. This is why it is a federally controlled substance.

This drug has been banned for medical use. But some individuals use it for recreational purposes or self-medication. This can lead to potential addiction.

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 may disrupt life, so professional assistance is required 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

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Warnings: Who Shouldn’t Take Darvocet?

According to the FDA, Darvocet is a dangerous drug and should not be prescribed to anyone.3 The FDA made its decision after receiving new clinical evidence linking propoxyphene-based medications to deadly heart rhythm abnormalities. 

Darvocet can also cause suicide and addiction. These three reasons caused the FDA to decide that the health risks outweigh the benefits of Darvocet as a painkiller.

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.

Medical detoxification is usually the first step for those seeking addiction treatment. This process enables close monitoring of the patient.

While in detox, the patient is typically offered group therapy and counseling to assist them through the initial recovery process. This helps prepare them for the next step of treatment.

The next step may be:

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient treatment centers are a comprehensive option for those who struggle to stay sober without medical supervision. You'll live in substance-free housing and have access to 24/7 care from qualified professionals.

You'll undergo detoxification, behavioral therapy, and other services. These usually last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer.

Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are also called intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). Partial hospitalization programs provide similar services to inpatient programs. Medical services, behavioral therapy, and support groups are included.

The main difference is in a PHP, you return home to sleep. Some services provide food and transportation (this varies by program).

PHPs are suitable for new patients as well as people who have completed an inpatient program and still need intensive treatment.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient treatment is less comprehensive than inpatient or PHPs. These programs organize your treatment around your schedule. They provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment.

People who have a high motivation to recover and cannot leave their responsibilities at home, work, or school are ideal patients.

Outpatient programs may be a portion of your aftercare after an inpatient or partial hospitalization program.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Al-Anon are open to anyone with a substance use disorder (SUD). They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober.

They can be the first step towards recovery or part of a long-term aftercare plan.

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