Get help today 888-287-0471 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Dextropropoxyphene Addiction Treatment

What is Dextropropoxyphene?

Dextropropoxyphene belongs to a family of drugs known as opioids. It is obtained from methadone, an artificial drug whose mechanism of action bears a resemblance to that of morphine.

Dextropropoxyphene, as with any type of opioid, imitates the function of endorphins, which are natural chemicals that reduce pain. This is done by combining themselves with the opioid receptors in the brain and thus averting the transfer of pain signals. In essence, although the cause of pain still exists, pain itself is much less.

Brief History

Dextropropoxyphene is a relative of methadone and was first commercialized in 1957 with the brand name Darvon. Under this trade name, dextropropoxyphene was widely used in the 1970s to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. When dextropropoxyphene was abused, the Drug Enforcement Administration forbade the practice of using it for opiate dependence treatment in 1980.


In the United States, more than 100 tons of dextropropoxyphene are produced every year, and over 30 million prescriptions are written for the substance.Drug Indications Dextropropoxyphene is primarily used to provide relief for minor to moderate pain. It is typically administered to patients undergoing an operation. The drug is also used to relieve coughing (antitussive). Furthermore, it is known to have local anesthetic effects.

Habit-forming Potential

Only a small population of dextropropoxyphene users become dependent on it.

Use for Opiate Withdrawal

In its pure form, dextropropoxyphene is generally prescribed to relieve the withdrawal symptoms experienced by opioids addicts. Because it is relatively weak when compared to other commonly abused opioids, dextropropoxyphene can only be used as a partial replacement. Although the drug doesn’t have much impact on mental cravings, it is rather useful in relieving physiological withdrawal effects, including muscle spasms.

Mechanism of Action Dextropropoxyphene resembles the action of the body’s natural hormones-enkephalins and endorphins-on the brain, nervous system, and gut. It dampens the sensation of pain in the same way as the natural hormones do. However, dextropropoxyphene at toxic or high levels can reduce breathing. How to handle a severely compromised breathing? Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is the first aid that can be given a person whose breathing stops due to dextropropoxyphene. This should be followed by urgent treatment with naloxone.

Did You Know?

Dextropropoxyphene is commonly used in combination with paracetamol for greater pain relief than when each is used alone.

  • Interesting Fact!

    Dextropropoxyphene was controversial at some point in the past. Although many doctors recommend it for the treatment of a wide array of mild to moderate pain symptoms and for diarrhea, several others run against this practice because of the perceived high addiction potential and limited efficacy. Dextropropoxyphene is available by prescription, both in pure and combined forms, in many countries. The combined forms come in different brand names, including Darvocet, Di-gesic, and more.

  • Danger!

    As dextropropoxyphene can cause sleepiness, affected people should not operate or drive heavy machinery. Also, this narcotic drug has been related to a wide range of adverse side effects and belongs to the top 10 drugs known to cause death from abuse.



Dextropropoxyphene must be used with caution in:

  • Children
  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • Those with undiagnosed pain, in order to avoid masking the signs of pain essential for an accurate assessment
  • Those with weakened kidney or liver function
  • Those with inflammatory disorders of the bowel (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • People with head injuries
  • Patients with enlarged prostate glands who are having difficulty urinating
  • Individuals taking any drug that may be affected by dextropropoxyphene
  • People with an underactive thyroid gland, Addison’s disease, or myasthenia gravis

Risks for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

Some medications are contraindicated for women during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines can be safely used by women during these phases, if the benefits provided to the mother offset the risks to the baby. For safety purposes, pregnant and lactating women should consult with their doctors about using dextropropoxyphene. This is because the drug can affect the mother’s breast milk. At average doses, however, dextropropoxyphene is unlikely to harm the baby. Despite this fact, seeking medical advice is best.


Dextropropoxyphene should not be used:

  • In patients with allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug
  • If breathing is adversely compromised by such diseases as pneumonia, acute asthma, emphysema, or severe chronic bronchitis
  • For patients with heart failure due to a chronic lung disease
  • For those with low blood pressure due to reduced circulation
  • In combination with alcohol
  • For people with lifelong inherited blood diseases

People with the above contraindications should immediately stop taking dextropropoxyphene and notify their pharmacist or doctor at once. To learn more dextropropoxyphene, call our free helpline at any time of day or night. Side effectsDextropropoxyphene and its side effects affect each person in different ways. The most common side effects of the drug are listed below. This does not mean, however, that everyone using this drug will experience some or any of the side effects.

  • Headache
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Dependence
  • Skin rashes
  • Hallucinations
  • Faintness
  • Constipation
  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Did You Know?

Although it is a weak opioid, dextropropoxyphene belongs to the most commonly abused psychoactive substances.


Overdose to dextropropoxyphene results in the following effects:

  • Feebleness
  • Lethargy
  • Uneven heartbeat
  • Delusion
  • Shallow breathing
  • Stupor or coma
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Limp muscles
  • Seizures


Case Study

A survey of 312 patients abusing dextropropoxyphene reveals that 63 percent had epileptic attacks (seizures) owing to dextropropoxyphene use. These seizures generally occur two hours after a high dosage of dextropropoxyphene is given. It is also observed that patients with greater and longer exposure to dextropropoxyphene had more severe seizures. The results showed that usage duration, age, and the occurrence of other medical problems were better indicators of attack than drug dosage or multiple drug use. This information will significantly aid the process of diagnosis and treatment for dextropropoxyphene abusers.


“It is not advisable to take dextropropoxyphene with MAOI antidepressants…”
Care must be taken in using dextropropoxyphene because this drug may affect other medicines. It is not advisable to take dextropropoxyphene with MAOI antidepressants or two weeks after ceasing use. The anticoagulant effect of warfarin or nicoumalone may be increased if these are taken alongside dextropropoxyphene. Dextropropoxyphene may boost the effect of carbamazepine. This drug may increase drowsiness if taken together with other substances that have a depressing effect on the central nervous system, such as alcohol, antidepressants, sleeping pills, and antihistamines.


Habitual and long-term use of dextropropoxyphene may result in tolerance to the drug. This means that abusers need to take increasingly larger doses to obtain the same effect. Prolonged use can lead to physiological addiction and dependence, wherein the body has become accustomed to the presence of the drug. If dosage is reduced or stopped, withdrawal symptoms arise. Choosing the right treatment center can be difficult. You can get help any time by giving us a call at . This helpline is free and has addiction advisors ready to answer your questions. Rest assured, all information you provide will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

Interesting Fact!

Several studies show that proper use of dextropropoxyphene as an analgesic is safe and seldom leads to addiction. When used as intended, dextropropoxyphene is really helpful in the effective management of mild to moderate pain.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Dextropropoxyphene withdrawal symptoms can occur if large doses are taken for a prolonged period of time. As such, dextropropoxyphene must be withdrawn gradually. Dextropropoxyphene withdrawal symptoms, however, are relatively less serious than those of heroin and morphine.These symptoms include the following:

  • Restiveness and nervousness
  • Bad temper and apprehension
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trembling
  • Cravings
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bone, muscle, and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Spontaneous leg movements


Dextropropoxyphene addiction treatment resembles that of opioid. For most addicts, detoxification is the first stage toward recovery. However, detox by itself is not the solution. This is because relapse will eventually occur if recovering addicts do not get additional help.Although not life-threatening, dextropropoxyphene withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant. The amount of discomfort will depend on the dosage and pace of withdrawal.

Detox Approaches

There is no single detox approach that is applicable for everyone. One detox approach that works for many dextropropoxyphene addicts is the administration of methadone, a type of longer-acting drug that can be ingested by mouth or injection. What follows is a gradual reduction of dosage for about one week. Clonidine, an antihypertensive drug, is at times supplemented to reduce the withdrawal time and get rid of withdrawal symptoms.To find the best dextropropoxyphene detox solution for your specific situation, give us a call at . This free helpline is available around the clock and can refer you to a reliable dextropropoxyphene detox center near you.

Dextropropoxyphene Addiction Treatment

There are a number of options available for the treatment of addiction to dextropropoxyphene. Most of these treatment methods are obtained from research and experience concerning heroin addiction treatment. The two common options are medications and behavioral counseling. In most cases, detoxification is considered an important precursor to long-term dextropropoxyphene addiction treatment. As previously stated, detoxification in itself is not enough to treat any type of addiction.

The main objective of detox is to treat withdrawal symptoms to help patients adjust to the condition of being drug free. A successful recovery plan involves detoxification and long-term treatment that necessitates either complete abstinence from the drug or adding a medication (e.g., methadone).As a synthetic opioid, methadone stops the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs, relieves withdrawal symptoms, and eliminates drug craving. Methadone has a track record of more than 30 years of successful treatment for opioid addiction, including dextropropoxyphene. An alternative medication to methadone is LAAM, which can stop the effects opioids up to 72 hours. Naltrexone is another medication to treat dextropropoxyphene addiction. It is an opioid blocker and shows good recovery results for individuals with the determination to recover from dextropropoxyphene addiction. Another proposed medication is buprenorphine, which is still awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Naloxone has been used to treat overdose to dextropropoxyphene.

The ultimate goal of a drug-free condition is the sought after and end objective of dextropropoxyphene treatment. However, this is not always possible especially if treatment is done in the short term.Since there is no known single treatment available for all people with dextropropoxyphene dependence, several treatment options should be used, such as a pharmacological approach and psychological methods.If you are looking for the best way to fight your dextropropoxyphene addiction, we are here to help. Call us at to help you find a dependable, private dextropropoxyphene addiction treatment facility.


Relapse is commonly observed after detoxification. Thus detoxification on its own is seldom enough treatment for substance dependence. However, this is the first step for any form of long-term treatment. Both detox with subsequent abstinence treatment and replacement maintenance treatment are important as an effective recovery method for people with dextropropoxyphene dependence.


A person actively seeking treatment on its own is not a common occurrence, and understanding this truism is important. Thus if you know someone battling with dextropropoxyphene addiction, you should get help immediately. A dextropropoxyphene rehab center can surely help. The first step in curing dependence and addiction is recognizing the existence of a problem. Physical addiction treatment and counseling will then follow. Support groups should immediately follow post-rehab treatment. If you or a loved one is suffering from dextropropoxyphene dependence, seek help right away. Call our free hotline number any time, day or night, so that we can help you find the right dextropropoxyphene addiction treatment program for you.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.