Propofol (Diprivan)

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What is Propofol (Diprivan)?
Propofol (marketed under the brand name Diprivan) is a powerful sedative given intravenously to induce and maintain anesthesia or sedation during surgery and certain medical tests and procedures. Medical supervision is required to administer the drug. A special procedure is required to administer propofol to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Contamination causes a person to experience fever, chills and body aches.1

What does it look like?
Propofol comes in vials and looks like milk.

How is it used?
Medically, propofol is used as a sedative for surgical and other medical procedures.1

What do young people hear about it?
Propofol is mostly abused by healthcare staff — including anesthetists, practitioners, nurses and technicians — or young people who are friendly with or have access to them. They hear that it can help them relax.

What are the risks?
Possible short term effects include hypotension (low blood pressure), dystonia (sustained muscle contractions causing repetitive movements), bradycardia (slow heart rate), inflammation of veins and blood clots. In epileptic patients there is a risk of seizure during the recovery phase. Long-term effects of propofol use are unknown.1

What are signs of use?

  • Low blood pressure
  • Dystonia (sustained muscle contractions causing repetitive movements)
  • Slow heart rate
  • Inflammation of veins
  • Blood clots

DEA Drugs of Abuse

1Drugs of Abuse | A DEA Resource Guide: 2017 Edition. “Barbiturates.” Drug Enforcement Agency, 2017. Web. Accessed 26 Oct. 2018.


Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Next Steps

Look for Warning Signs

Do you think your child may be using drugs? If so, have you noticed any of these changes or warning signs?