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How Does Propoxyphene Work?

Propoxyphene is classified as a centrally acting narcotic pain reliever. "Centrally-acting" means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), rather than directly at the site of the pain. Propoxyphene is not considered as "strong" as most other narcotic pain relievers and is particularly dangerous in the case of overdoses. As a result, propoxyphene is not usually a healthcare provider's "first choice" when prescribing pain medications.

Abuse Potential

Propoxyphene has some potential for both psychological and physical dependence and abuse. In fact, it is classified as a controlled substance, meaning that there are special rules and regulations for prescribing and obtaining the medication. Because propoxyphene can be a desirable drug of abuse, people may try to buy it through illegal means, such as from foreign countries or online sources that do not require a prescription.

When and How to Take Propoxyphene

Some general considerations include the following:
  • This medication comes in tablet and capsule form. It is taken by mouth every four hours as needed for pain. Do not ever take more than 6 tablets or capsules in 24 hours.
  • It is probably best to take propoxyphene with food, as it can be upsetting to the stomach.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication (see Darvon and Alcohol or Darvon-N and Alcohol).
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Do not increase your dose without your healthcare provider's approval. Do not suddenly stop taking propoxyphene, especially if you have taken it regularly for more than several weeks (see Darvon Withdrawal or Darvon-N Withdrawal).
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Propoxyphene Drug Information

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