Excruciating pain from surgery, other medical conditions, or injury can be debilitating, cause stress on your body and your mind, affect your personal relationships, interrupt your sleep, and interfere with your job. Some days you would do anything just to get the pain to stop so you could live a normal life. Doctors may prescribe painkillers, but the longer you take them, your body becomes tolerant of the dosage and ceases to work, so the doctor increases the dosage. It stops working again. The dose is increased again. It’s a vicious cycle. While it may be a prescription drug, you find yourself needing and wanting it to get through the day, the night, and your life.
The doctor may no longer prescribe the drug if a medical reason for the pain no longer exists. The prescription is cancelled and you panic. Now what? Chances are, you want to do anything to try to get the drug, legal or not. You’ve got to have it because it’s that bad. You have developed a physical and/or mental dependence on it. You’re addicted.
What Is It?
Darvocet, or dextropropoxyphene, is an opioid/narcotic painkiller combining acetaminophen and propoxyphene, used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is also distributed under the brand names Darvon, Balacet and Propacet 100. This drug was taken off of the U.S. market in November 2010 due to the addictive properties of propoxyphene and severe heart-related issues.
Before taking Darvocet, inform your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
- COPD, sleep apnea, asthma
- brain tumor or head injury
- kidney, liver, gallbladder, or pancreas disease
- intestinal or stomach problems
- suicidal behavior
- mental illness
- history of alcohol or drug addiction
What Does Darvocet Look Like?
Darvocet pills are large, vitamin-sized red, white, or pink oblong tablets. The shade of the color and imprint on the pill will vary depending on the pharmaceutical company that manufactures it. The imprint may include a number and/or the word ‘Darvocet’.
The drug Darvocet is highly addictive, and is abused as a prescription drug and on the street. Street names include ‘D,’ ‘Dillies,’ and ‘Yellow Footballs.’ The pills can be mashed, chewed, snorted or injected, creating euphoria as the dopamine is released.
Darvocet has been used as an analgesic for arthritis sufferers, to treat chronic coughs, and as a local anesthetic in medical situations. Used for short-term pain from dental procedures or surgery, it can be used for long-term pain management if carefully controlled and monitored.
The FDA banned the use of Darvocet and other brand name/generic drugs using propoxyphene in 2010 due to the risk of abnormal heart rhythms or fatal heart-related side effects. Approximately 10 million Americans were warned not to stop taking the drug suddenly due to the risk of serious withdrawal symptoms. Banned in the UK around 2008, approximately 2000 Americans have died due to negligence of the FDA in delaying the ban of this drug. Users are at risk of psychological, physical, and emotional dependence on the drug.
Federal Drug Classification
Propoxyphene is listed in the controlled substances Schedule II classification, and has a high potential for abuse, but is currently accepted in the U.S. for medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse of this drug may lead to psychological or physical dependence. Darvocet-N, or Darvon, (propoxyphene napsylate and acetominophen) is classified as Schedule IV narcotic, which causes the type of physical and psychological dependence associated with morphine addiction.
It is also listed in FDA Pregnancy Category C, and can cause respiratory problems or withdrawal from addiction in newborns.
A 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that approximately 12 million Americans from age 12 to adult had abused prescription painkillers, including Darvocet, which is nearly 5% of the U.S. population. There have been reports of thousands of fatalities linked to Darvocet overdoses, and suicide is a huge risk for abusers. An overdose of Darvocet can be fatal, and should be taken exactly as prescribed. Do not increase or decrease the dosage or take longer than recommended.
If you feel like you may have taken an overdose, call 911 immediately. Symptoms of overdose include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Shallow breathing or stopped breathing
- Slowed heart rate, palpitations, or arrythmia
- Cold, clammy skin
- Yellowing of skin or eyes
- Dark urine
- Dilated pupils
- Blue lips
How Does It Affect the Body?
In addition to its analgesic effects on body pain, Darvocet also comes with a list of adverse reactions. Sedation, dizziness, skin rashes, abdominal pain, headache, and constipation are minor side effects. However, more serious effects can be:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Addiction/withdrawal syndrome/drug toxicity/tolerance
- Heart arrythmias, cardiac arrest, heart failure, tachycardia, low blood pressure, elevated heart rate
- Gastrointestinal: bleeding, pancreatitis
- Respiratory arrest
- Nervous system: coma, shakiness
- Liver damage, jaundice, hepatic necrosis
How Does It Affect the Mind?
The pain relief function of Darvocet creates a feeling of euphoria (extreme happiness), which is amplified if used with alcohol or other substances, as well as anxiety, depression, or agitation. It can cause mental confusion, hallucinations, visual disturbances, a state of confusion, suicidal thoughts, or even actual suicide. Do not drive or operate machinery because it impairs thinking and slows reactions.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects
Short-term use of Darvocet can create dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, and hallucinations. Long-term effects include liver and kidney dysfunction, psychological and physical dependence, jaundice, and heart issues.
Addiction to Darvocet can be physical and psychological, and must be treated with medically supervised substance abuse intervention. Withdrawal symptoms that appear within hours of stopping the drug include:
- Profuse sweating
- Agitation and anxiety
- Severe muscle cramps
- Suicidal thoughts
Darvocet should never be discontinued suddenly or without a doctor’s advice, and users must be weaned off of the substance to avoid serious withdrawal symptoms, especially if used long-term or taken in high doses. Successful treatment is available through rehab centers and through the medical profession.