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Propoxyphene is the generic name of prescription medication such as Darvon®, Compound-65 Pulvules®, Darvon®, Pulvules®, Darvon-N®, E-Lor®, PC-CAP® and Wygesic®. It comes in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms and taken orally to relieve mild to moderate pain.

Usual side effects of taking this drug are confusion, clumsiness and unsteadiness. Some users feel nervousness and restlessness. Other also feel some lightheadedness, while others experience fainting spells. Headaches, nausea and vomiting are also common. If used for a long period of time, proxyphene can also cause constipation.

Propoxyphene can be habit-forming and it is one of the many prescription drugs that is usually abused by recreational users. If not regulated properly, this drug produces psychological and physical dependence like other narcotics.

Propoxyphene, when abused, is taken orally or chewed. Others crush them in fine powder and then snorted like cocaine. There are also reports of addicts who crush propoxyphene and dissolve it in water to be injected like heroin. Propoxyphene recreational users, or those who take for recreational purposes, tend to take between 240 to 420 milligrams of the drug. Like initial side effects experienced by patients prescribed with the drug, recreational users also undergo persistent dryness in the mouth despite drinking lots of fluid. Appetite also decreases, therefore weight loss is also noticeable.

Since propoxyphene also causes gastrointestinal effects, it is common for users to retain their urine. The continuous state of constipation, due to unnecessary and prolonged use of the drug may also lead to diverticulitis. Other manifestations that recreational users can also experience are analgesia, or the loss of sensation of pain. Recreational users can also suffer from mood swings. There would be bouts of euphoria, which could reduce inhibition and show uncharacteristic behavior. This will then be followed by a feeling of depression, as the effects of the drug recede. Others may act as if intoxicated. Slurring of speech is evident in some, while balance is impaired in others, and coordination becomes poor.

Manifestation of propoxyphene overdose is similar to that of narcotic overdose. On the onset, the patient’s skin may have a bluish tinge. Patient is usually drowsy. Others seem to be in some kind of stupor. However, in some cases when the over dose is severe, patients can be found convulsing or in a coma. Breathing is shallow and difficult, while the pupils of the eyes may become dilated. Initial status of blood pressure and heart rate could be normal but may drop and deteriorate drastically. Some patients experience pulmonary edema and circulatory collapse. Death may occur if treatment is delayed.

Recreational users of propoxyphene usually have strong physical dependence but low psychological dependence although a large number of drug-related deaths are caused by taking in excessive doses of proxyphene products, along with, or in combination with other CNS depressants, which include sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and alcohol. Most fatalities actually happen within the first hour of over dosage. Most recreational users are patients who are depressed or suicidal, or those who have previous histories of emotional disturbances and suicidal ideation or attempts.

Early detection is a must, especially for users whose addiction to propoxyphene started from medical prescription, so that the necessary tests may be carried out for confirmation. Drug test areas make use of a particular drug test system that is done in a laboratory or by using rapid test kits to screen for the presence of drugs in urine. The results may come out in a period anywhere between six hours to three days after the test. Late detection of drug dependency may result to recreational users eventually having to suffer from overdose.