Propoxyphene (one of the active ingredients in the medication) is classified as a mild, centrally-acting, narcotic pain reliever. "Centrally-acting" means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Propoxyphene is chemically related to methadone.
The other active ingredient in propoxyphene/acetaminophen is acetaminophen (commonly known as "APAP"). It is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications such as Tylenol. Adding acetaminophen to propoxyphene increases the effectiveness for relieving pain and also provides fever-reducing properties.
Propoxyphene/acetaminophen has a significant 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/acetaminophen can be a desirable drug of abuse, people often try to buy it through illegal means, such as from foreign countries or online sources that do not require a prescription.
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