What Are Darvon and Darvocet?

Darvon and Darvocet are brand names for Propoxyphene, a drug used to treat mild to moderate pain and to reduce coughing (Darvocet was also used as a fever reducer). The drugs belong to a class of medications called Opiate analgesics and can be consumed as either a capsule or tablet. Propoxyphene is weaker than other Opioid pain relievers such as Morphine and Codeine; however, it still poses a high potential for abuse and presents a multitude of serious side effects. Due to multiple accidental and intentional deaths caused by the drug, the Food and Drug Administration banned Propoxyphene-based products from further prescription in 2010, including Darvon and Darvocet. The drugs put patients at-risk of abnormal and even fatal heart rhythm abnormalities, causing an estimated 2,000 American deaths between the years 2004 and 2010.

The Circulation of Darvon and Darvocet

For a short period of time following the ban of the drugs in 2010, there were illegal stockpiles that were available for sale for recreational users; however, Darvon and Darvocet are no longer available on the shelves in the United States. There is the possibility that there are still some stockpiles of the drugs somewhere within the U.S., but it is extremely rare to see a substance use disorder in an individual caused by the abuse of Darvon or Darvocet in the present day. Some sources indicate that there is a black market for the drugs in which they are still currently sold by specific dealers and for very high prices due to the limited availability. It is estimated that the buyers still seeking out the drugs are individuals who had a legal prescription for Darvon or Darvocet before they were banned and became addicted to the drugs prior to the FDA mandate.

Effects of Darvon and Darvocet Use

There are a number of potential side effects of Darvon and Darvocet, which increase in severity with higher doses. Individuals taking the drug may experience any of the following:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin rash
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches

In addition to these common side effects, Darvon and Darvocet also pose multiple serious health consequences. Although considered rare, Darvon and Darvocet can severely decrease respiration and blood pressure to the point of danger and even fatality. The following side effects are the reason behind the FDA’s decision to ban the drugs:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Bradycardia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Congestive arrest
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Tachycardia
  • Myocardial infarction (MI)

Darvon and Darvocet Addiction

Because Darvon and Darvocet are Opioids, they are effective pain suppressors; however, the drugs also produce feelings of sedation, wellbeing, and euphoria. Like other pain medications in the opioid family, Darvon and Darvocet are agonists, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Prolonged use leads to tolerance; the development of tolerance represents the need to use higher amounts or doses of a drug to achieve the same effects that were once achieved at much lower doses. As tolerance increases, individuals who abuse the drugs use more and more in an attempt to experience the same relief or the same euphoric effects they got when they first started taking the drugs. As a person takes higher doses of the drug and more frequently, the individual’s system begins to adjust to having increased levels of the drug present. If these levels are not sustained or a user attempts to decrease use of the drugs, this can result in the development of a withdrawal syndrome.

Darvon and Darvocet Withdrawal

Those who have become dependent on Darvon or Darvocet typically experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop taking the medication. Even after just a short amount of time on Darvon or Darvocet, the brain gets used to the effects of the drug and modifies to the reaction it produces within the body. Withdrawal then occurs because the body has become so accustomed to the presence of the drug that it can no longer function “normally” without it. Symptoms of withdrawal are not limited to, but may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Shivering
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia

The effects of withdrawal from Darvon or Darvocet can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating, especially for people who have been addicted to the drug for a long period of time. Because of the harshness of withdrawal, the drugs should not be discontinued without the supervision of medically-trained professionals. It is recommended that an individual addicted to Darvon or Darvocet slowly taper off use of the drug until usage stops completely.

Get Help for Darvon or Darvocet Addiction

Quitting Propoxyphene-based substances such as Darvon and Darvocet can be extremely uncomfortable and trigger a relapse, causing someone to fall back into a pattern of abuse. However, many people have found relief from their Opioid addiction through the help of treatment programs. Depending on an individual’s situation and needs, the best option may be to attend a residential program or to seek out support groups and individual counseling.