The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned Darvocet and related medications in 2010 because they contain a painkiller from the 1950s called propoxyphene. They were banned due to their propensity to cause heart damage and sudden death.
In fact, one physician referred to propoxyphene itself as “the worst drug in history.”
The propoxyphene component of Darvocet is an opioid, which is why it remains a drug of abuse. However, people who use it recreationally can get addicted and experience a host of ruinous health effects in addition to the ones mentioned above.
Read on to learn more about Darvocet addiction, which can be utterly devastating, and why professional addiction treatment is crucial.
What Is Darvocet?
Darvocet is comprised of propoxyphene and acetaminophen and is prescribed to treat mild to moderate pain. According to MedicineNet, while Darvocet works as a pain reliever and cough suppressant, it is weaker than opioids like morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone.
While its exact mechanism of action is not known, evidence suggests that Darvocet stimulates opioid receptors in the brain. When users take it, they experience increased tolerance to pain, sedation, and slowed breathing.
The acetaminophen in Darvocet acts as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Acetaminophen elevates a user’s tolerance to pain.
Before it was banned in the U.S., Darvocet was available in tablet form. Even then, there were prohibitions on its use. The recommended adult dose is one to two tablets every 4 hours as needed for pain relief. Plus, a dose should not exceed six 100 mg propoxyphene/650 mg acetaminophen tablets or twelve 50 mg/325 mg tablets in 24 hours.
According to Drugs.com, adults should not take more than 1 gram (1000 mg) of acetaminophen per dose or 4 grams (4000 mg) per day. When users take excessive doses of Darvocet, they not only subject themselves to possible addiction and heart issues, excessive amounts of acetaminophen can result in liver damage. Besides those health complications, regular use comes with a host of side effects.
The Signs of Darvocet Addiction
Sometimes, it is difficult to tell whether someone has a growing addiction to a substance. Normally, the behaviors and effects of a growing addiction can appear as isolated events. However, when you know what to look for, a pattern that indicates addiction can emerge. That pattern comes through behaviors, effects, and symptoms.
When addiction is present, it means that a person exhibits compulsive behavior toward obtaining and using their drug of choice. Normally, they will seek out and abuse a drug in the face of adverse consequences, whether that is a worsening health condition or a legal problem. According to RxList.com, the following are the side effects that occur with regular Darvocet use:
- Upset stomach
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
When an addiction to a substance is present, a user will begin to exhibit certain behaviors that indicate a looming issue.
Healthline reports that when a person declines into addiction, they will display:
- A lack of control, or an inability to abstain from a substance or behavior
- Decreased socialization, marked by abandoning social commitments or ignoring personal relationships
- Indifferent behavior toward the dangers of their use like ignoring risk factors associated with that drug
- Physical effects, like withdrawal symptoms or the need for a higher dose for the desired effect
Some other telltale signs of addiction, according to Healthline, include:
- Showing a lack of interest in hobbies or activities that used to be important
- Neglecting relationships with friends and/or family or reacting negatively to those closest to you
- Neglecting or missing important obligations like work or school
- Participating in risky behavior to obtain drugs or continuing to display certain behaviors
- Ignoring the negative consequences of their actions
- Exhibiting a marked change in sleeping patterns that result in chronic fatigue
- Being increasingly secretive about their whereabouts or lying about the amount of drugs used or how their time is spent
Darvocet Withdrawal Symptoms
As with other opioids, abruptly stopping your use of Darvocet is not recommended. Doing so can result in a range of painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The best course of action is to taper off this medication under a doctor’s supervision. Otherwise, you will subject yourself to withdrawal effects like:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle aches
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle aches
- Restless leg syndrome
- Feeling like things are crawling under the skin
- Loss of appetite
- Mood changes
Do any of the signs, side effects, or withdrawal symptoms mentioned above sound familiar? Do you believe that you or a loved one is in the throes of a Darvocet addiction? If you suspect this is the case, the best way to treat this dangerous condition is by seeking out the services of a professional treatment center.
How Professional Treatment Can Help You
A professional treatment program can offer you a safe and effective process that rids your body of the addictive substance. It treats the underlying issues of your addiction and provides the education, skills, and counseling that equips you to live a meaningful life as a newly sober individual.
Because Darvocet addiction can bring an array of life-threatening effects, a professional treatment program becomes vital to your overall health and well-being. In essence, it can be life-saving.
A reputable treatment program begins with medical detox, where a medical team will wean you off the drug and treat any withdrawal symptoms that arise. In a detox protocol, you are provided 24-hour managed care and supervision.
In addition to undergoing detox, a clinician will help tailor a drug treatment program that meets your particular needs. They will assess your overall health and drug use history to cultivate the best plan to help you achieve sustainable recovery.
After detox, you can get treatment that addresses the mental and emotional aspects of addiction — the “why” behind your addiction — through residential or outpatient treatment.
Residential treatment is best for severe cases of addiction and polysubstance abuse, which occurs when two or more substances are abused. A residential program allows a client to reside at the treatment facility temporarily while they get comprehensive therapy and care on a full-time basis.
The length of a residential program can range between 30 and 90 days. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends a 90-day stay to maximize treatment effectiveness.
If your clinician determines that your case is mild, you could be recommended for outpatient treatment, which still grants you access to therapy and care, but on a part-time basis. The benefit of outpatient is that you can live independently and attend to your daily obligations without having to put your life on hold.
After your treatment is completed, access to recovery communities like a 12-step program or SMART Recovery® is available. Communities like these provide support, mentorship, and inspiration. They are also empowering, giving their members the push they need to pursue lasting recovery.
How Dangerous Is Darvocet?
There’s a reason the FDA announced that it was pulling Darvocet and other medications like it from off the shelves. It was announced that scientific evidence proved that these prescription painkillers could damage the heart, even at recommended doses, or cause fatal cardiac abnormalities, according to this ABC Newsreport.
“The drug’s effectiveness in reducing pain is no longer enough to outweigh the drug’s serious potential heart risks,” declared an FDA official. According to that same ABC News report, a watchdog organization estimated that hundreds of Americans have died from Darvocet and related medications between 2005 and 2010.
So Darvocet abuse can not only bring about deleterious addiction and death, but the propoxyphene component can also generate overdose symptoms such as:
- Slow, labored, or shallow breathing or no breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Weak pulse
- Hearing loss
- Pinprick pupils
- Heart rhythm disturbances
- No breathing
- Muscle spasticity
- Muscle damage from being immobile while in a coma
- Blue fingernails or lips
- Jaundice (turning yellow)
- Nausea, vomiting
- Spasms of the stomach or intestines (abdominal cramps)
As mentioned above, acetaminophen overdose can result in liver failure. Overdose from Darvocet can result in respiratory depression or death as well. If you suspect that you or a loved one has overdosed, seek medical attention immediately, or call 9-1-1.
Darvocet Abuse Statistics
- According to Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, 1,000 to 2,000 or more people in the U.S. died from using propoxyphene products like Darvocet between 2005 and 2010.
- Propoxyphene drugs like Darvocet were responsible for nearly 400 deaths in the state of Florida alone, between 2005 and 2009, according to Public Citizen.
- At the time the FDA officially banned Darvocet, an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. were taking it.