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What is Darvocet?

Darvocet is a pain reliever made from the combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen. Propoxyphene belongs to the class of medicines known as narcotic pain relievers.4 On the other hand, acetaminophen is a moderate pain reliever and fever reducer that enhances propoxyphene’s effects.

Darvocet is classified as a partial opiate agonist, meaning 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.

Note: Darvocet was withdrawn from the market in November 2010 after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found certain heart-related health concerns among users. 

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

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 by increasing the threshold for discomfort and reduces fever by impacting the brain’s heat-regulating region. Propoxyphene and acetaminophen are used together to provide greater pain relief than either drug alone.

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How to Take Darvocet Correctly 

An overdose of Darvocet may lead to liver damage.6 Take Darvocet according to your doctor’s instructions, and be sure to check the directions on the prescription label. If you feel that the medication is not working as well as it should, let your doctor know.

To ensure safety, tell your doctor if you have the following conditions:

  • 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 prescribed, Darvocet dosage may vary from patient to patient depending on the physical attributes, level of pain, history of substance use, and use of other prescription drugs.

Typically, patients should take one to two tablets after every four hours. If you’re taking Darvocet-N 100, take one pill every four hours but do not exceed six capsules in a day. If you’re taking Darvocet-N 50, take two pills every four hours but do not exceed 12 tablets in a day.

You may not be on a dosage plan with Darvocet since it is taken as needed. If you take Darvocet regularly, remember to take the missed dosage as soon as possible. If your next scheduled dosage is approaching, skip the missing dose. Never take additional medication to make up for a missed dose.

If you abruptly stop using Darvocet, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent withdrawal symptoms before stopping. If you require surgery, let your doctor know you’re taking acetaminophen and propoxyphene. You may need to take a break from taking the medication for a while.

Darvocet should be stored in a cool and dry environment and away from the reach of children and potential users. Keep a record of how much medication you’ve used from each fresh bottle to avoid sharing your medication with someone else unknowingly.

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 when expressed:

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

Severe when expressed:

  • 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

What Drugs Interact With Darvocet?

Medications that cause sleepiness or slow down breathing can interact with Darvocet and may have serious side effects. 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.

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Is Darvocet Habit-Forming (Addictive)?

Since Darvocet is a potent pain reliever, it’s highly addictive. This is why it is a federally controlled substance. Despite the drug being banned for medical use, some individuals use it for recreational purposes or self-medication, leading to potential addiction.

Detecting any type of drug use and addiction is a bit challenging. However, observing side effects such as breathing problems, confusion, hallucinations, impaired vision, nausea, low blood pressure, and loss of appetite may indicate Darvocet misuse.

Darvocet misuse has a variety of psychological and physical consequences. Darvocet addiction may disrupt life, so professional assistance is required to overcome it.

The development of a Darvocet addiction may be influenced by a variety of factors: biological, psychological, and social/environmental variables.

Biological factors: These include genetic components or a medical condition requiring a person to seek pain relief medication.

Psychological factors: Depression, underlying traumas, anxiety, and feeling of neglect influence the use of Darvocet as a coping mechanism.

Social factors: These include use at home, availability, and acceptability of Darvocet in the community, and peer pressure.

Darvocet addiction may co-occur with substance use or eating problems due to its shared characteristics with other addictive disorders. A range of factors impacts the nature of the addictive disease, and men and women who battle with Darvocet addiction are likely to struggle with other addictions as well.

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

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. 

When the cardiac risks of Darvocet were coupled with the danger of suicide, physical dependence, and mortality, the FDA concluded that the health risks outweighed the drug’s merits as a painkiller, which are not significantly more powerful than other over-the-counter medications.

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. 

Addiction treatment facilities provide both inpatient and outpatient drug evaluation and treatment focused on managing Darvocet addiction. They also provide medical advice to help patients avoid relapse and serious withdrawal symptoms.

Medical Detox

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 and prepare them for the next step of treatment, which is usually inpatient or outpatient care.

Quitting propoxyphene-based drugs may be very difficult and can lead to a relapse. You may choose to enroll in a residential program or seek out support groups and individual therapy, depending on your circumstances and preferences. 

Only a drug addiction treatment provider should provide advice, diagnosis, or treatment for Darvocet addiction. Professional addiction doctors can determine what kind of therapy each patient needs following a thorough assessment.

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Resources

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Controlled Substance Schedules,” US Department of Justice (Drug Enforcement Department) July 2021 Antipyretic efficacy of ibuprofen vs acetaminophen,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA recommends against the continued use of propoxyphene” US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Propoxyphene,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Propoxyphene Addiction & Abuse,” Confirm BioSciences, 12 October 2016 “Medication Guide: Darvocet” US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

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