Darvocet is the brand name for a medication that combines propoxyphene and acetaminophen. Propoxyphene is an opioid (narcotic) pain reliever, and acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever and fever reducer that magnifies the effects of propoxyphene.
Darvocet can be used to relieve mild to moderate pain with or without fever. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took Darvocet off the market in December 2010 due to its potential to create deadly heart disturbances.
As an opioid, Darvocet functions by altering how the central nervous system responds to pain signals. Because the narcotic is released quickly, the medication can give users a rush of euphoria and relaxation.
Due to its high potential for abuse, Darvocet must always be taken exactly according to a doctor’s instructions. Taking a larger dose, or taking Darvocet more frequently or for a longer period of time than prescribed, will lead to physical dependence and addiction. Smoking, snorting or injecting opioids is extremely dangerous and a clear sign of a substance abuse problem.
Understanding Darvocet Abuse
Darvocet is a pill form of propoxyphene and acetaminophen combined. When taken as directed, the drug provides immediate relief of pain, along with a feeling of relaxation and well-being. When the medicine is taken recreationally, the result is a rush of euphoria and extreme relaxation similar to the effects of other narcotics like oxycodone, although somewhat milder.
Like heroin and other opioid drugs, Darvocet attaches to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking pain signals. Because opioid receptors are located in the brain’s reward center, this process also triggers the release of dopamine, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation. This highly-desirable feeling is the primary reason for the widespread abuse of Darvocet and other opioid drugs.
Although Darvocet has been discontinued, dealers and users can obtain similar narcotics through fraudulent prescriptions, and/or visits to multiple pain clinics. Prescription opioids are some of the most commonly stolen medications.
One reason that addicts find it so difficult to quit taking opioids like Darvocet without professional help is the extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. One of the most commonly abused prescription opioids is oxycodone. The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists the following side effects of the drug:
- watery eyes
- runny nose
- muscle or joint aches or pains
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- loss of appetite
- fast heartbeat
- fast breathing
Signs and Symptoms of Darvocet Abuse
The following symptoms are possible indicators of opioid abuse:
- needing to have a prescription refilled earlier than scheduled
- seeing multiple doctors/clinics for pain prescriptions
- changes in mood
- changes in appearance or hygiene
- mental clouding
- appearing intoxicated without drinking alcohol
- isolation from family and friends
- secretive behavior
- nervousness and restlessness
- lack of interest in activities the user previously enjoyed
There is the potential for numerous serious side effects when taking prescription opioids like Darvocet. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- changes in heartbeat
- agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- fever, sweating
- fast heartbeat
- severe muscle stiffness or twitching
- loss of coordination
- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
- weakness, or dizziness
- inability to get or keep an erection
- irregular menstruation
- decreased sexual desire
- chest pain
- hives, itching, rash
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- extreme drowsiness
- lightheadedness when changing positions
Dangers of Darvocet Abuse
Sustained use of narcotics like Darvocet will create a tolerance, forcing addicts to increase their dosage to get the same experience. Taking large amounts of opioids will increase the risk of serious medical consequences, including coma and death.
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s fact sheet on oxycodone lists the following as possible signs of overdose:
- extreme drowsiness
- muscle weakness
- cold and clammy skin
- pinpoint pupils
- shallow breathing
- breathing cessation
- slow heart rate
Who Abuses Darvocet?
A person of any age, gender, financial status, or ethnicity can become addicted to opioid narcotics like Darvocet. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, “regular use [of opioids]—even as prescribed by a doctor—can produce dependence, and when misused or abused, opioid pain relievers can lead to fatal overdose.”
Some addicts take narcotics to combat feelings of anxiety, to self-medicate depression, or to enjoy feelings of euphoria. Some users take them due to chronic pain and an unbearable physical dependency that makes them unable to quit the drug on their own.
When used legally, under a doctor’s instructions, opioids can improve a patient’s quality of life during illness, injury, or recovery from surgery. When pain goes untreated, patients can suffer mentally as well as physically, running the risk of developing mood disorders and suicidal thoughts.
However, opioids such as Darvocet are some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Patients must be careful to take them only as directed, and for the reasons prescribed. Taking Darvocet recreationally, especially in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs, is extremely dangerous and is a clear sign of a substance abuse problem.
Am I Addicted to Darvocet?
If you fear that you may be addicted to an opioid narcotic like Darvocet, ask yourself the questions below:
- Do I abuse an opioid every day?
- Do I abuse the drug in order to combat feelings of unhappiness, loneliness, depression, etc.?
- Have friends or family members mentioned more than once that they are worried about my drug use?
- Do I become hostile or angry when they do so?
- Do I ever experience side effects or withdrawal symptoms such as those listed above?
- Do I feel like I can’t have fun, be normal, or complete everyday tasks without drugs?
- Am I secretive about my drug use, and/or do I lie about when I use or how much I take?
- Do I need more and more narcotics each time I use in order to feel the effects?
- Have I experienced any major problems in the last year, such as a breakup, job loss, car accident, family problems, financial problems, or getting arrested as a result of my drug use?
- Despite these problems, do I feel unable to stop using on my own?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be addicted and in need of professional help.
Darvocet Addiction Treatment
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. The NIDA explains that “repeated drug use changes the brain, including parts of the brain that enable you to exert self-control. These and other changes can be seen clearly in brain imaging studies of people with drug addictions.”
This is why addicts require professional help to break the cycle of addiction. The specialists at a qualified drug and alcohol treatment facility are trained in how to manage substance abuse issues and lead addicts safely to recovery.
Detoxification is the first step to any recovery plan. A person needs clarity of mind and a body free from addictive substances before they can be effectively treated.
Because withdrawal from opioids can be extremely unpleasant, detoxing in a rehab center under the care of medical professionals is ideal. A doctor will likely have you taper off gradually, to minimize withdrawal symptoms, and may prescribe medications to help ease symptoms and more comfortably transition you into sobriety.
Whether addicts choose inpatient residential treatment, and/or outpatient treatment, all substance abuse recovery plans will include talk therapy.
Individual therapy allows patients to work intensively on issues specific only to them, while group therapy allows them to both support and experience support from other addicts who are struggling with similar challenges. Family therapy is a fundamental tool to ensure individuals encounter the best possible environment at home, to prevent relapse.
Other treatment options include:
- 12-step meetings: Meetings based on the 12-step program that originated with Alcoholics Anonymous are an invaluable resource to support long term sobriety.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: CBT teaches patients to retrain their brains with new methods of coping with stress and cravings, and avoiding trigger situations.
- Treatment for co-occurring conditions: most addicts suffer from undiagnosed mental health issues that underlie and fuel their substance abuse. These co-occurring disorders must be addressed as a part of recovery.
- Nutrition, fitness and recreational therapy: a strong body is just as important as a strong mind when it comes to long-term recovery. The better a person feels, the more prepared they will be to handle life as it comes.