Darvocet is a synthetic opioid meant to treat mild to moderate pain. Because of this, it is similar in chemical makeup to other painkillers such as methadone, but it is unique in the danger that it poses to those who use even just the prescribed dosage.
Darvocet was banned and taken off the market by the FDA in 2010 on the grounds that the drug’s many risks outweighed its meager benefits, saying that it was never even a particularly effective pain reliever anyway. In fact, it was referred to by a member of the American Academy of Pain Medicine as a medication that “offers placebo benefits with opioid risks.”
Even though Darvocet is no longer legally available or in production, there are still large amounts available on the black market and online, where it is sometimes sold for as much as 20 dollars a pill.
While it may be weaker than many other opioids, if someone overdoses on Darvocet, they could be dead in less than an hour, making it a threat to be taken with the utmost level of seriousness in the fight against opioid addiction.
What is Darvocet?
Darvocet is the brand name for a combination of the opioid propoxyphene and acetaminophen. Like other analgesics, it was intended to relieve pain by binding itself to the brain’s opioid receptors and blocking pain signals to the brain as well as providing feelings of mild sedation and euphoria.
While the addition of acetaminophen helps the user get more pain relief than they otherwise would, Darvocet is still very weak and cannot completely remove the presence of acute pain. Because it is less potent than opioids such as methadone and morphine, it was also used in medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment to help ease withdrawal symptoms.
Darvocet was approved by the FDA in 1972 but had doctors petitioning its removal just six years later, citing its addictiveness and incredibly high risk of fatal heart problems such as arrhythmia in contrast to its very limited pain-killing ability.
In 2010, more than 30 years later, the FDA finally complied and banned the manufacture and use of Darvocet. However, Darvocet and its generics are still available through illegal means, typically sold under names like pinks, footballs, 65’s and N’s.
Those abusing Darvocet will frequently crush the pills into powder and snort it to flood the brain with a stronger rush. But because the drug is still so weak in comparison to other prescription opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone, a user will need to take extremely large doses to achieve a comparable high. This is incredibly dangerous, as the main reason that Darvocet was banned was due to it causing heart arrhythmia in patients who were taking it at standard.
What are the Signs of Darvocet Addiction?
Common signs and symptoms of Darvocet addiction that are indicative of dependency and increasing abuse include:doctor-prescribed doses.
- Built-up tolerance that requires higher doses of Darvocet
- Jaundice from continuous damage to the liver
- Skin rashes
- Chest pains and irregular heart rate
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
Along with these physical symptoms, as using Darvocet to get high becomes the driving force behind someone’s decisions, there are common behavioral warning signs that go along with it, including:
- Hiding the Darvocet abuse from others
- Making excuses to rationalize using Darvocet
- Being unable to perform regular tasks without Darvocet
- Forgoing responsibilities like work, school, or family
- Noticeable lack of concern with appearance and hygiene
- Wanting to stop using Darvocet but being unable to
- Being willing to obtain Darvocet by any means, even if it’s dangerous
If you’ve experienced at least three of these symptoms within the span of 12 months, or have seen them in someone you know, professional help should be sought out as soon as possible to avoid further prolonged abuse and mental and physical damage.
Depending on the length and severity of Darvocet abuse, withdrawal symptoms can range anywhere from mood swings and insomnia to seizures, psychosis, and even attempted suicide.
What is Involved in Darvocet Addiction Treatment?
While undergoing monitored medical detoxification at a professional treatment center is always the smartest decision when it comes to your safety regardless of the drug, the potential seriousness of these symptoms only makes seeking out professional detox services more imperative for Darvocet.
A treatment center will also be well-equipped to help slowly taper down the usage of Darvocet to avoid the intense body shock that completely stopping Darvocet can trigger. This helps not only to keep you safe but also to avoid a relapse brought on by intensified withdrawal symptoms. With the use of opioid addiction treatment medication such as buprenorphine and Suboxone, a medical treatment center can make the detox process as comfortable as possible.
Once detox has been completed, it is vital that the patient is checked into a residential treatment program. Otherwise, they will most likely relapse shortly after, even once withdrawal symptoms have faded.
Addiction treatment programs give those in recovery the tools they need to understand the causes behind their addictive behaviors and more effectively manage them. Treatment also provides a network of support that can make all the difference in not just getting on but staying on the path to recovery.
While treatment plans will vary based on what is deemed most helpful for an individual patient based on assessment and evaluation, they will typically involve a mix of at least some of the following:
- Addiction education
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Family counseling
- Group therapy
- 12-Step support programs
After residential treatment is over, the patient will be allowed to return home. However, without follow up therapies and group sessions, the risk of relapse is still very high. This is why many choose to continue with outpatient treatment programs that give them the freedom and responsibility of living at home while remaining plugged into the recovery community and being held accountable for their sobriety.
How Dangerous is Darvocet?
As previously mentioned, Darvocet, even when taken at the FDA-approved dosage, was prone to causing fatal heart problems in the patients it was prescribed to and had doctors fighting to get it taken off the market just six years after its release.
Apart from the heart issues, Darvocet was also found to significantly increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in users that were already prone to depression, which is what actually caused the initial wave of support for its removal.
Overdosing on Darvocet is particularly dangerous not just because of the usual reasons associated with an overdose but because of how quickly it can turn deadly, giving the user often less than an hour to be resuscitated.
Other side effects of Darvocet abuse include:
- Shallow breathing and low-heart rate to the point of passing out
- Significant liver and kidney damage
- Dark urine
- Complete stoppage of breath
Snorting Darvocet for prolonged periods also has its own specific side effects such as chronic nosebleeds, sinusitis, loss of sense of smell, and even perforation of the nasal cavity.
Darvocet Abuse Statistics
- 35 million people in the U.S. have been hospitalized for using drugs like Darvocet
- It is estimated that about 10 million Americans were taking Darvocet at the time of its removal.
The director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group claims that between roughly 1,000-2,000 people died as a result of taking Darvocet in the time between the UK ban and the US ban.