Darvocet is a synthetic opioid synthesized with the intention of treating mild-to-moderate pain. It has a similar chemical makeup to methadone, but it presents immediate dangers to those who consume it, even in the doses prescribed. These inherent risks of a drug prescribed to millions of people over the years prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban Darvocet.
In 2010, the FDA took Darvocet off the market in an attempt to save lives. It was determined that the drug’s risks and grave potential for addiction significantly outweighed its benefits.
In the medical community, Darvocet has been recommended to be an opioid that offers placebo benefits for opioid risks. This is a strong statement when describing a drug, and there is no question as to why it was taken off the market.
While Darvocet may no longer be legally available or in production, varying amounts are still being possessed and sold, and the drug is still being created on the black market. It has been sold for an estimated $2 per pill online. Removing a popular drug from a legal market will never translate into a full disappearance.
Darvocet is technically weaker than other opioids available, but the problem is if someone overdoses on Darvocet, the person could be dead in less than an hour. Such claims are the very reason why the FDA took the initiative to ban this drug.
What is Darvocet?
Darvocet is a brand name for a combination of the opioid propoxyphene and acetaminophen. Like other opioids, it was intended for the sole purpose of treating pain. It relieves pain by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors and blocking pain signals. This, in turn, will provide the body with the feeling of euphoria and sedation that users often seek.
Acetaminophen, an over-the-counter drug, is used in conjunction with propoxyphene to increase the level of pain relief. Even with this addition, Darvocet is still weaker than other opioids and does not eliminate the worst symptoms of acute pain. Because of its status as a less potent opioid, it has been used in medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment to alleviate the worst symptoms from withdrawal.
In 1972, the FDA approved the drug as a means to treat pain, but shortly thereafter, medical professionals were petitioning to have it removed from the market. They cited that it had extreme addictive properties and caused fatal heart problems such as arrhythmia.
Doctors saw these problems not being worth the slim benefits Darvocet offered.
Finally, after 30 years of petitioning in 2010, the FDA took action and banned the manufacturing the drug in the United States, but the drug in generic form remains available through illegal means. Its street names include “pinks, 65s, footballs, and N’s.”
The standard means of ingestion of Darvocet is to crush up and snort the pill for a more instant effect. The problem is that the drug’s lack of potency has users consuming dangerously large doses to achieve a high. This is the main component as to why it was banned because the high doses were creating heart problems as mentioned above.
What are the Signs of Darvocet Addiction?
Several outward signs of Darvocet addiction that could indicate a growing dependency on the drug include:
- Tolerance requiring higher doses of Darvocet
- Skin rashes
- Suicidal thoughts
- Chest pains
- Irregular heart rate
While the physical symptoms of Darvocet could be telling, there are other factors as well. When someone becomes addicted to Darvocet, the driving force behind every decision they make in their lives will be to obtain Darvocet. Other symptoms of Darvocet abuse include:
- Making excuses to rationalize Darvocet use
- Hiding Darvocet abuse
- Being absent from responsibilities
- An inability to perform regular tasks without the drug
- A lack of concern for appearance and hygiene
- Doing whatever it takes to get Darvocet
- Being unable to stop using Darvocet
If you or someone you love is using Darvocet and has experienced at least three of these symptoms in the past 12 months, professional help is something that should be sought out immediately. This will help prevent any more damage or a potential overdose.
What is Involved in Darvocet Addiction Treatment?
While the type of treatment will be determined based on the severity of the addiction, there is a specific path in the continuum of care that will be followed.
Accepting that you have a problem and checking yourself into treatment is the biggest step you or someone you love can take to end dependence on the drug.
This is the first step in the continuum of treatment. Due to the adverse and uncomfortable side effects that can be traced back to Darvocet, the most successful means toward a better life is to go through medical detoxification. Individuals who go about getting clean through the ‘cold turkey” method, otherwise declining treatment from medical professionals, typically are less successful in getting sober. The uncomfortable symptoms that the user experiences often have them running back to the drug to avoid them.
While opioid withdrawal is not as dangerous as other drugs such as benzodiazepines, the process itself is extremely uncomfortable. The purpose of a medical detox is to be supervised by a professional medical staff around the clock to ensure you are treated comfortably and with dignity. This process will help wean off the drug safely.
During this time, trained professional staff will begin formulating a medical plan filled with the various types of therapies that are unique to your needs. You also will determine which level of treatment you will attend once detox concludes, and this placement will partially be based on the severity of your addiction. These plans are not permanent and are subject to change if you are not responding to the original plan accordingly.
At this stage, detox will have been completed, and the drugs will be out of your system. Your medical team will have determined if your addiction treatment will be better suited in residential or outpatient treatment. If they have decided residential is the best choice, you will be living on-site for anywhere from 30-90 days depending on the doctor’s recommendation.
During addiction treatment, you will be provided with helpful tools and strategies that help you understand your addiction from a psychological perspective. Treatment also will provide support from other like-minded individuals living on-site who are on the same path to sobriety. You will also go through different kinds of therapies that are geared specifically to coping with lifelong recovery after you leave treatment. These treatments could be:
- Addiction education
- Cognitive behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical behavioral Therapy
- Family counseling
- Group therapy
- 12-step support programs
Outpatient recovery will be offered to those who pose no real dangers of relapsing after detox. Those who have obligations such as work or school that cannot be missed will likely take this path. In the past, Outpatient was a less reliable means of treatment, but with cutting-edge advances in addiction therapies, it has become just as effective as residential. You will be attending the same therapy sessions, but the only difference is that you will be allowed to return home once the therapy concludes.
How Dangerous is Darvocet?
As mentioned previously, the main component of this drug being pulled off the market was its inherent dangers. Even when consumed in the prescribed doses, it still ran the possibility of causing heart problems.
Apart from the negatives on the physical side of the spectrum, Darvocet also affected users’ mental health. The drug also was linked to increased thoughts of suicide in people who already were prone to depression. This was the original reason it was removed. There is a reason this drug has been taken off the market and is something that should be avoided at all costs.
Darvocet Abuse Statistics
- 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 bans in the UK and the US.
- 35 million people in the U.S. have been hospitalized for using drugs like Darvocet.