Darvocet (propoxyphene/acetaminophen)

Darvocet, also known as Darvocet-N or its counterpart drug Darvon, is a prescription opioid pain medication that contains propoxyphene and acetaminophen. The drug is no longer prohibited due to adverse health effects on the heart in some users, though it can still be found in circulation in some areas.

What is Darvocet?

Darvocet, also known as Darvocet-N or its counterpart Darvon, is a form of pain-relief medication that is composed of propoxyphene and acetaminophen. The acetaminophen in Darvocet is used to reduce fever while the propoxyphene acts as a mu-opioid agonist. While Darvocet interacts with opioid receptors in the brain much like heroin or morphine, it is only a fraction as potent. However, the drug still holds the potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction which is why it was categorized as a schedule IV narcotic.

Research by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) found that propoxyphene, part of Darvocet-N’s chemical composition, had links to heart-related health risks.[1] Additionally, the 100mg propoxyphene version of the drug (the stronger form of Darvocet) had 650 milligrams of acetaminophen in it, double the recommended amount. As such, the medication along with its counterpart Darvon was banned in 2010. Despite the ban, some of the medication may still be in circulation.[2]

What does Darvocet look like?

Darvocet comes in pill form and is oval in shape. The stronger dosage is orange or pink and has the words “DARVOCET-N 100” printed on the side. The weaker version is the same shape and color but has “DARVOCET-N 50” on it.[3]

DARVOCET-N 100 pills included 100 milligrams of propoxyphene and 650 milligrams of acetaminophen. DARVOCET-N 500 pills included 50 mg of propoxyphene and 325 mg of acetaminophen.[3]

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Darvocet side effects

When Darvocet was still commonly prescribed, and for those who still have access to it, the drug was reportedly abused due to its effect on the brain and the mu-opioid receptor. Darvocet interacts with this neurotransmitter and can cause feelings of euphoria and relaxation when taken in high doses. Additional common side effects of Darvocet include:[3]

  • lightheadedness

  • dizziness

  • headache

  • blurred vision

  • dry mouth

  • sedation

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • upset stomach

  • drowsiness

  • constipation

Darvocet overdose

Like with most forms of opioid pain medication, overconsuming or mixing them with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants can lead to a fatal overdose. The recommended amount is no more than six Darvocet-N 100 tablets a day or no more than 12 Darvocet-N 50 tablets a day. Taking any more than this can cause slowed heart and breathing rate, unconsciousness, and respiratory failure. 

If you believe someone has taken a Darvocet or other form of opioid overdose then look for these signs and contact the emergency services immediately. [5]

  • Skin showing a bluish tinge

  • Pupils becoming pinpoint small or dilated

  • Abdominal pain

  • Excessive sweating

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Convulsions

  • Decreased breathing rate

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Coma

  • Low blood pressure

Darvocet addiction

Darvocet is a synthetic opioid and can cause tolerance and physical dependence to form in a manner of weeks. Tolerance occurs when the brain adjusts to the chemical production of the drug and cannot produce adequate levels on its own. Once tolerance is built up enough, users will often feel they need more of the substance to feel its effects and in some cases to feel normal. This is known as physical dependence and when the negative consequences of dependence build it can lead to addiction.

Like most forms of an opioid use disorder, a person with a Darvocet addiction will be diagnosed by a licensed professional using these 11 criteria, outlined by the DSM-5. These criteria may include:

  • Craving the drug when not using

  • Giving up responsibilities in order to use it

  • Using in dangerous ways

  • Using larger amounts or more frequently

  • Withdrawal symptoms presenting when not using

Darvocet withdrawal

If a person has abused Darvocet in high doses or has been using the medication for longer than recommended, it is not recommended that use stops abruptly. Darvocet withdrawal is sometimes referred to as Darvocet-N (propoxyphene napsylate and acetaminophen) abstinence syndrome.[6]

Like with other opioid pain medications, Darvocet withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and in some cases painful. Stopping Darvocet-N abuse without medical supervision or inpatient detox will often lead to relapse. 

Common withdrawal symptoms from Darvocet include:

  • Headache

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Insomnia

  • Muscle aches

  • Stomach cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Muscle aches

  • Vomiting, nausea

  • Lethargy

  • Restless leg syndrome

  • Loss of appetite

  • Seizures

Darvocet addiction treatment

Recovering from an opioid use disorder can be incredibly hard and attempting to do it alone will often lead to relapse. Thankfully, there are inpatient rehab centers and outpatient treatment programs across the country that specialize in dealing with opioid dependence and abuse. 

Opioid overdose is claiming record numbers of lives across the world and not seeking treatment for opioid addiction greatly increases the risk of fatal overdose. Visit our rehab directory to see what treatment options are available near you.