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Darvocet Addiction, Withdrawal, Side Effects, Alternatives, Tapering

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Medically Reviewed

Last Updated on July 21, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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

Side effects ranged from mild to severe, with many associated health injuries and reported deaths.1 From 2005 to 2010 in the US alone, approximately 2000 deaths were reportedly linked to Darvocet use.2

Darvocet side effects include:

  • Brain damage
  • Heart toxicity resulting in stroke or death*
  • Respiratory depression
  • Worsened depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Completed suicide
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Intracranial pressure and head injury
  • Fatal drug or food interactions with grapefruit juice, 4 alcohol, 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 the same reason.

What Is Darvocet (Propoxyphene) used for?

Approximately 10 million people were taking Darvocet in the treatment of mild to moderate pain and other conditions when it was SUPPOSED to be banned from sale in the US in 2010. The drug was banned in 2005 in European countries, 5 years earlier. In the US the drug was never actually banned; 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.5 Shockingly, the drug continued to be sold and used for a time by trusting but uninformed consumers.

The generic opioid propoxyphene was created by drugmaker Lilly about 5 decades ago, who later sold the rights to smaller pharmaceutical companies. The drug was highly profitable which begs the question of why would Lilly offload one of their best products — unless perhaps they knew trouble was ahead?

The drug was mainly marketed as a pain reliever.

Darvocet (Propoxyphene) Alternative/Street Names

Darvocet, Darvon, Darvocet–N50, 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 marketed as Co-proxamol and Distalgesic. Propoxyphene was also called “dextropropoxyphene” in European countries.

Like all opioid drugs, they are addictive, and some ended 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, 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) 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,1 how clinical studies are done, and other topics. Though the drug is no longer sold, Darvocet (propoxyphene) can give us better insights about 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, in Europe, and also in Scandinavia.

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. An estimated 2000 deaths were linked to Darvocet in the US alone after it was banned in the UK. Toxic reactions led to certain heart conditions as well as kidney, liver, and other organs subject to injury from the drug.2,3

Darvocet Drug Rehab 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 with diet, rather than with drugs, for example? What kind of relief would you feel if your anxiety 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 online] [cited 2020 Dec 2]

2. DeNoon DJ “Darvon, Darvocet Banned,” WebMD [INTERNET] 2010 Nov 19 [cited 2020 Dec 2]

3. Citizenvox authors, “Darvocet is dangerous in the UK but not in the US?” June 19, 2008 [cited 2020 Dec 2]

4. US Food & Drug Administration “Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix.” [internet] Recently reviewed July 18, 2017 [cited 2020 Dec 2]

5. FDA “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA recommends against the continued us of propoxyphene.” [online, archive] issued 2010 [cited 2020 Dec 2]


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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