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Once popular as a moderate-level painkiller, Darvocet is a narcotic drug containing a mixture of propoxyphene and acetaminophen. It works similarly to opioids by binding to the same receptors in the brain to relieve pain and provide immediate relief. However, due to the multitude of drugs associated with propoxyphene, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States banned all of its products from further prescription. Despite the enaction of this ban for more than a decade, Darvocet and its other forms remain in circulation, and a rising number of people continue to abuse it for medical and non-medical purposes.
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Like other illicitly used drugs, Darvocet carries a very high risk of abuse and addiction. Darvocet addiction can quickly take over life and make it difficult to carry on without experiencing side effects. Fortunately, many rehabs provide effective treatment and rehabilitation for this type of addiction to help the victims recover.
Darvocet Addiction and Abuse Statistics
Before discussing Darvocet’s side effects and abuse in detail, the following statistics are important to keep in mind to understand the gravity of the situation.
- Approximately 35 million people in the United States have been hospitalized so far for using Darvocet or similar products.
- Evidence claims that up to 3000 people have died due to Darvocet consumption between the time it was banned in the U.K. and the U.S.
- Around 10 million people had valid prescriptions for Darvocet when it was removed from pharmacies.
An Overview of Darvocet: Why did Authorities Ban it?
Darvocet is a combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen meant to treat the pain of mild to moderate intensity. While Darvocet works as a cough suppressant and pain reliever, its effects are weaker than opioids, such as hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. While experts are not sure about this drug’s mechanism of action, many believe it works by attaching itself to the opioid receptors in the brain. When users take it, their tolerance to pain increases, their breathing slows down, and they feel relaxed and sedated. The acetaminophen in Darvocet’s composition also acts as a fever reducer and pain killer by upping the user’s tolerance to pain.
Despite being used by more than 10 million Americans back in 2009, Darvocet was removed from the market by the orders released by FDA in 2010. This withdrawal order was secondary to the evidence revealing the drug’s ability to trigger severe issues like heart toxicity, even when taken in therapeutic doses. After multiple evaluations, the FDA concluded that the risks of using Darvocet far exceeded the benefits. Hence, it put forth the following recommendations:
- All medical professionals must stop prescribing and dispensing Darvocet and all drugs with propoxyphene in their composition.
- Healthcare professionals must get in touch with everyone taking Darvocet and ask them to withdraw its use immediately.
- Doctors must discuss alternative pain management strategies with patients
- Doctors must inform the patients about all possible risks associated with propoxyphene use
- Relevant authorities must safely dispose of all unused Darvocet
Despite being withdrawn from the U.S. markets, Darvocet is still available on the black market. Moreover, some patients who had been using it for years still have it in their medicine cabinets. However, it is essential to remember that all opiate painkillers, including Darvocet, can be extremely dangerous. When combined with other drugs, such as MAO inhibitors, it can lead to terrible side effects. Moreover, the drug can also cause irreversible damage to the developing baby if taken by pregnant ladies.
Who is at Risk of Abusing Darvocet?
There are plenty of risk factors that determine the possibility of developing Darvocet addiction. For example:
Legitimate use went wrong.
Before the FDA took it down, many people used Darvocet for legitime medical reasons. However, some did not wean off the drug or took more than the prescribed dose, leading to addiction and dependence.
Many people still prefer overdosing on Darvocet to achieve a euphoric feeling that helps them numb the pain associated with a traumatic past. This action allows them to feel better temporarily and escape the hurtful memories and feelings of the past.
People who live in communities where it is common to use Darvocet may feel pressured into abusing it, even when they do not wish to. With time, this occasional use may lead to addiction.
Addiction also has a genetic component that may force multiple members of a single family to develop it. Hence, people whose parents, siblings, or other family members have already been using Darvocet or any other similar drug are more likely to develop this addiction at some point in life.
Some people may use Darvocet and many other illicit and medicinal drugs and alcohol, intentionally or unintentionally, which may lead to addiction.
Wrong method of consumption
Darvocet is typically available in the form of tablets that users must take through the mouth. Some people may experiment with the drug, such as crushing it, snorting its powder, mixing it with water, and injecting the solution into a vein. Using Darvocet in any other way than the intended method can make it easier to develop an addiction. Moreover, when snorted or injected, it can be challenging to track how much Darvocet a person is using, increasing the risk of an overdose.
If you or a loved one identify with any of the issues mentioned above, you may already be addicted to Darvocet or might be vulnerable to developing the addiction any time soon. So keep an eye out for the common addiction symptoms, and don’t be afraid to seek professional evaluation whenever you have a suspicion.
Darvocet Side Effects to Keep in Mind
Darvocet carries a very high risk for abuse and addiction. Many people crush its pills to form a powder and snort it, nullifying its time-release features and flooding the brain with this narcotic substance. As a result, the individual using it experiences a euphoric rush followed by sedation that continues for 4 to 6 hours.
Other physical and psychological side effects of abusing Darvocet include the following:
- Skin rash and jaundice
- Blurred vision
- Delusions of grandeur
- Excessive sleep
- Frenzied behavior
- Sudden changes in mood
- Calm and relaxed feelings
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of stability
- Dry mouth
Even when a person consumes Darvocet as intended, it can be dangerous and potentially addictive. The drug can also intensify feelings of depression, leading to suicidal ideation. When combined with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol, Darvocet can lead to seizures, coma, respiratory failure, and death.
Is Darvocet Addictive? Symptoms to Look For
Since Darvocet is no longer dispensable at pharmacies for medical purposes, continued use of this drug can be the primary indicator that something is wrong. Another early sign depicting a potential abuse of this drug is developing a tolerance to its intoxicating effects. In other words, a user may require it in increasing doses to achieve the previous outcomes and sensations. Some other symptoms to look out for include the following:
- Experiencing intense cravings to use Darvocet
- Making males reports of stolen or lost prescriptions
- Exhibiting an obsession with Darvocet color or brand when purchasing it
- Consulting multiple doctors to get more than one prescription
- Taking Darvocet in an unusual way that doctors do not recommend, such as inhaling it
- Faking or lying about severe pain to get Darvocet
- Exhibiting symptoms like jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), a condition due to liver damage caused by overconsumption of acetaminophen found in Darvocet
- Facing issues in personal and professional relationships
- Complete social isolation from friends and family members
- Taking part in dangerous behaviors, such as stealing items or pawning them to afford more Darvocet
- Begging for or stealing Darvocet or its prescription from other patients
- Inability to fulfill daily responsibilities, such as cooking dinner, paying bills, etc.
- Sudden mood changes
Managing Darvocet Addiction: What Does a Treatment Plan Look Like?
Multiple factors determine the treatment path a client may take to address their Darvocet addiction. Before a mental professional can assess their medical condition and situation, they must follow certain guidelines to ensure they achieve long-term sobriety and heal from within. The first steps involve accepting the problem and being willing to seek treatment for it. It may seem easy, but it is the hardest step in reality. Fortunately, support is available every step of the way to keep all patients motivated and willing to move in a forward direction.
Each path to recovery and healing is different; however, most people begin with a medical detox. This process aims to eliminate Darvocet from the body and allow the brain some time to adjust to the new “normal” state. This process of self-cleanse comes with various side effects and health hazards; however, going through a professional detox successfully mitigates these risks through round-the-clock care. Detox also gives patients a chance to use medications to control their withdrawal symptoms.
Following a detox, mental health professionals assess each patient again to check the severity of their addiction. People with severe addictions usually enter residential treatment, where they stay onsite for up to 90 days and receive 24/7 care and supervision. For those with less-intense addictions, an outpatient setting is feasible where they only come to the rehab during the day and return home every night.
During treatment, clients may attend a series of therapies, such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Family Counseling
- Addiction education
- 12-step support programs
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
How dangerous is it to abuse Darvocet?
Darvocet use can lead to a handful of common side effects that are mild in intensity, such as drowsiness, constipation, and nausea. However, because of its tendency to cause arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, health authorities banned its use. These arrhythmias, in some cases, can trigger heart failure. These side effects are more likely to occur in people who are abusing the medication. Its frequent use can also lead to opioid use disorder which may lead to a full-fledged addiction. Overdose is another significant risk associated with Darvocet use that may lead prove fatal with side effects like respiratory depression.
Is it possible to achieve a Darvocet high?
As with other opioids, Darvocet carries the ability to stimulate opiate receptors. When these receptors are triggered, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that leads to euphoria or a feeling of high in addition to pain relief. Hence, achieving a high with Darvocet use is very much possible. This euphoria associated with its use is the primary reason why many people start using the drug in progressively higher doses and end up developing an addiction. Some people mix Darvocet with other drugs and alcohol to enhance its euphoric effects. This mixing of substances can further increase the risk associated with using Darvocet and may lead to life-threatening issues.
Can Darvocet lead to an overdose?
Yes, Darvocet has a very high propensity for overdose. Because many people develop a tolerance to this drug, they continue to take it in higher doses to feel its effects like before. In this attempt, they may use a very high dose of the drug, leading to life-changing side effects, such as muscle damage, liver issues, and coma.
Can a Darvocet overdose kill me?
Yes, injecting more Darvocet than the body can prove fatal for the body. Records show that many people died due to Darvocet overdose during the past decade, and the trend continues today. A portion of these deaths was with the intention of suicide.
1 FDA. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA recommends against the continued use of propoxyphene [Internet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. United States Government; 2018. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-recommends-against-continued-use-propoxyphene
2 Nickander, R. C., Emmerson, J. L., Hynes, M. D., Steinberg, M. I., & Sullivan, H. R. (1984). Pharmacologic and toxic effects in animals of dextropropoxyphene and its major metabolite norpropoxyphene: a review. Human Toxicology, 3(suppl), 13s-36S.