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Propoxyphene Drug Abuse: Signs, Side Effects, & Treatment

Propoxyphene Drug Abuse: Signs, Side Effects, & Treatment

If you don’t know what propoxyphene is, you’re not alone. Once sold as mild to moderate pain relievers, propoxyphene-related drugs Darvon and Darvocet were banned in 2010 due to adverse side effects, including multiple deaths. While Darvon is the brand name for dextropropoxyphene, Darvocet is the brand name for a combination of acetaminophen and propoxyphene. Due to multiple deaths attributed to both drugs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the products from further prescription. Because these drugs still circulate in the drug market despite the legal restrictions set in place, Banyan is sharing what you should know about propoxyphene drug abuse.

Propoxyphene Side Effects

Propoxyphene-related drugs Darvon and Darvocet both come with a high risk of abuse and addiction. These drugs are part of the opioid drug class, meaning they act similarly to drugs like heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. Propoxyphene’s mechanism of action is attaching to opioid receptors in the body to block pain signaling while increasing dopamine levels.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger that plays a key role in motivation, reward, pleasure, and elevated mood. It’s a common denominator in drug addiction, as it’s usually the chemical that’s released into the brain when drugs like opioids are abused or taken in high doses.

A propoxyphene high is usually achieved by crushing and snorting Darvon or Darvocet pills, which makes the drug release quicker into the brain. Users may also experience a brisk rush of euphoria and then a feeling of sedation that may last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. 

Common propoxyphene side effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Sedation
  • Blurred vision
  • Calm and relaxation
  • Confusion
  • Delusions of grandeur
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleeping too much
  • Frenzied behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Lack of coordination and balance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin rash
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Mood swings

Darvon and Darvocet, even when used as prescribed, can exacerbate symptoms of mental illness, such as depression and suicidal ideation. Both drugs are naturally central nervous system depressants, and when combined with other substances or misused, they can also lead to respiratory failure, seizures, coma, and even death.

Medically monitored detox is recommended to help people struggling to safely get through the withdrawal process of recovery and increase their likelihood of moving forward in treatment. The medical detox staff at our Banyan rehab locations also administers medication, as needed, to alleviate clients’ discomfort and pain caused by withdrawal.

Signs of Darvocet Abuse

Since Darvon and Darvocet are no longer prescribed by doctors, the use of these substances is usually the first sign that something is wrong. Another immediate sign of Darvon/Darvocet abuse is a developing tolerance or a growing numbness to the drug’s effects. People with a Darvon/Darvocet addiction will require more of the drugs to achieve the effect they felt when they first started using.

Common signs of Darvon/Darvocet abuse include:

  • Strong cravings for the drugs
  • Taking them in unusual ways, such as crushing and snorting pills
  • Displaying an obsession with Darvon and Darvocet
  • Faking ailments and symptoms to request drugs like Darvon and Darvocet (i.e., other opioids)
  • Making false reports of lost or stolen prescriptions to obtain new ones
  • Stealing or begging for prescriptions from other people
  • Stealing from and lying to loved ones to buy more drugs
  • Becoming unable or unwilling to complete daily responsibilities, including paying bills, cooking dinner, or fulfilling duties at home, school, or work
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Relationship problems
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Over-sleeping
  • Spending time with people who also use drugs

Breaking an addiction to Darvocet, Darvon, or other propoxyphene-based drugs can be difficult, but recovery is possible with the proper care and support. Numerous of our Banyan Treatment Center locations offer partial hospitalization and inpatient drug treatment along with a variety of outpatient options. Clients interested in receiving addiction care at any of our centers go through a comprehensive assessment to determine the best route of treatment for their needs.


Don’t let addiction dictate your life. Call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about the levels of care offered at our nationwide addiction facilities.  


Related Reading:

What Happens to Your Body During Withdrawal?

Non-Opioid Analgesics: Side Effects & How They Work

Ways to Prevent Opioid Abuse

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.