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Darvocet Addiction, Withdrawal, Side Effects, Alternatives, Tapering

Last Updated on August 9, 2022 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

The Darvocet withdrawal protocols used at Alternative to Meds Center focus on sustainable, natural, mental health.

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Darvocet (propoxyphene) Withdrawal Symptoms

Darvocet withdrawal symptoms resemble those typically associated with opiate cessation.

Withdrawal symptoms for Darvocet include:
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Changes in respiratory rate
  • Anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings
  • Back pain
  • Pain in joints
  • Muscle pain or cramping
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness

Darvocet (Propoxyphene) Side Effects

Darvocet was in use as an analgesic medication for many decades, before it became controversial due to overdose deaths, especially noting 700 suicides in the UK from 1997-1999 linked to Darvocet, a drug combined with paracetamol. Darvocet and Darvon (single ingredient propoxyphene) side effects ranged from mild to severe, with associated health injuries.1-6

Darvocet side effects include:

  • Brain damage
  • Heart toxicity resulting in stroke or death*
  • Respiratory depression
  • Worsened depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide fatality
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Intracranial pressure and head injury
  • Fatal drug or food interactions with grapefruit juice,4 alcohol, and other CNS depressants

*After approximately 2000 US deaths from Darvocet in 2010 the FDA issued a recommendation to physicians to no longer prescribe it, and for consumers to stop using and safely dispose of the drug. Darvocet was banned in European countries in 2005 for similar reasons.

What Is Darvocet (Propoxyphene) used for?

Approximately 10 million people were taking Darvocet for the treatment of mild to moderate pain and other conditions when the FDA recommended against prescribing the drug in the US in 2010. The drug was banned in 2005 in European countries, 5 years earlier. The FDA requested the drugmaker voluntarily withdraw it from being sold and asked consumers to stop using it. If they had a stockpile consumers were asked to dispose of it safely. In some cases, the drug continued to be sold and used for a time by trusting but uninformed consumers.

Darvocet is a synthetic opiate. Darvocet addiction was reported to be rampant for a time in some regions in northern India, where the drug became a substitute for other opiate drugs. 

The generic opioid propoxyphene was created by drugmaker Lilly about 5 decades ago, who later sold the rights to smaller pharmaceutical companies. Fatal injuries to the heart were cited as a major concern. 5

Darvocet (Propoxyphene) Alternative/Street Names

Darvocet, Darvon, Darvocet–N50, and Darvocet-N100 are some of the brand names for medications containing (generic) propoxyphene, or propoxyphene napsylate. One version of the drug is blended with acetaminophen. In the UK the drug was combined with paracetamol, marketed as Co-proxamol and Distalgesic. Propoxyphene was also called “dextropropoxyphene” in European countries.

Like opioid drugs, propoxyphene-based drugs are subject to addiction, and some end up being sold on the street. Because of their pink color, names developed such as “pinks,” “footballs,” “65’s,” and “N’s.” The pills can be swallowed or crushed and snorted, dissolved and injected, etc., producing a high that lasts 4-6 hours.

Discontinuing/Quitting Darvocet (Propoxyphene)

Any medication can produce unwanted side effects and may lead to the desire to discontinue use. It is important to gently taper rather than abruptly stop taking a medication. In general, medications should be tapered rather than stopped all at once.

There are some exceptions, for instance, where the drug itself is causing a life-threatening event. In a clinical or hospital setting, the drug would be stopped but with ample medical support on hand to keep the patient alive and as comfortable as possible throughout the process.

Darvocet (Propoxyphene) Withdrawal and Addiction FAQs

The following information may help in researching the history and other information on Darvocet. Understanding this drug better might help to understand other similar drugs and the way they are currently marketed, how clinical studies are done, and other topics. Though the drug is no longer sold, Darvocet (propoxyphene) can give us better insights into how drugs are brought to market. It’s easy to perceive drug companies putting profits ahead of safety, even when they come under fire with thousands of active lawsuits. The most typical response to such complaints is to pay the lawsuits, add a warning on the “black box,” and carry on as usual. Phrases like “cherry-picking” in reference to selective reporting on clinical trial outcomes cast a dark shadow over the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, and we may still have reservations in some cases about drug safety. Darvocet was a prime example. It took thousands of accidental deaths, suicides, injuries, and slap-on-the-wrist type actions by drug regulators before the drug was finally pulled off the market in the US. It was public outcry that finally brought about action in the US, Europe, and also in Scandinavia.  There are many drugs, still sold in vast quantities that have equal or worse red flags, that have not been banned. One should research any drug well before starting a prescription. 

When and Why was Darvocet (Propoxyphene) Discontinued/Banned?

Many deaths from intentional or accidental overdoses led to the drug ban in the UK in 2005, and in the US in 2010. Numerous deaths were linked to Darvocet in the US after it was banned in the UK. Toxic reactions led to certain heart conditions (potentially fatal) as well as kidney, liver, and other organs subject to injury from the drug.2,3

Darvocet Withdrawal and Addiction Treatment Center in Sedona, Arizona

getting off darvocetAlternative to Meds Center is a residential, inpatient facility in Sedona, Arizona (a short distance from Flagstaff) that works with clients seeking help with addiction and mental health. Our Center strives to stay fully informed and updated on current news about drugs, drug trends, and pertinent information on health-related subjects.

As we well know from history, sometimes a prescription drug can have serious adverse effects, and one may make the decision to come off the drug. Alternative to Meds Center specializes in this area of medication cessation and recovery.

Our programs include investigative work to uncover what may have been causing or contributing to symptoms before medication was started. What would it feel like to know how to manage insomnia, pain, depression, or anxiety with diet, rather than with drugs, for example? What kind of relief would you feel if your mood swings could be reduced or eliminated completely after removing heavy metal toxicity? These are not miracles but can seem like they are. The results of neurotoxin cleansing are remarkable, to say the least.

Alternative to Meds Center provides a gentler taper process if you are looking for a safe and comfortable facility for the cessation of medication. Our program provides significant health benefits through neurochemical replacement and normalization via holistic means. Please contact us for more information on the medication withdrawal protocols we use and to find out more about how our methodologies focus on drug-free, natural, mental health.

1. FDA drug information Darvocet  (N.D.) [PDF published online] [cited 2022 Aug 9]

2.  Jan D H, et al, Fatal Outcome of a Propoxyphene/Acetaminophen (Darvocet) Overdose. Should it Still be Used in the US? Anals of Emergency Medicine  Correspondence Vol 57, Issue 4 [cited 2022 Aug 9]

3. Citizenvox authors, “Darvocet is dangerous in the UK but not in the US?” June 19, 2008 [cited 2022 Aug 9]

4. US Food & Drug Administration “Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix.” [published online, reviewed July 18, 2017] [cited 2022 Aug 9]

5. FDA “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA recommends against the continued us of propoxyphene.” [archived online] issued 2010 [cited 2022 Aug 9]

6.  Balhara YP. Dextropropoxyphene ban in India: Is there a case for reconsideration? J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2014 Jan;5(1):8-11. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.124406. PMID: 24554903; PMCID: PMC3917176. [cited 2022 Aug 9]

7.  Simkin S, Hawton K, Sutton L, Gunnell D, Bennewith O, Kapur N. Co-proxamol and suicide: preventing the continuing toll of overdose deaths. QJM. 2005 Mar;98(3):159-70. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hci026. PMID: 15728397. [cited 2022 Aug 9]

8.  Barkin RL, Barkin SJ, Barkin DS. Propoxyphene (dextropropoxyphene): a critical review of a weak opioid analgesic that should remain in antiquity. Am J Ther. 2006 Nov-Dec;13(6):534-42. doi: 10.1097/01.mjt.0000253850.86480.fb. PMID: 17122535. [cited 2022 Aug 9]

Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.


Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.

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Darvocet Addiction, Withdrawal, Side Effects, Alternatives, Tapering
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