Can you get addicted to ibuprofen?
No, ibuprofen is not addictive. But some pills that contain ibuprofen and opioids are. More here.
What kind of drug is ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is in a subclass of pain relieving medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDS are analgesic agents that typically do not bind to opioid receptors in the brain and are not addictive. Ibuprofen is a non-narcotic pain reliever that is offered as both a prescription and non prescription drug.
You cannot develop physical dependence on ibuprofen
People who get addicted to drugs develop physical and psychological dependence on their drug of choice. Ibuprofen has neither of these characteristics. First, your body does not develop tolerance to ibuprofen or withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. These are the two main characteristics of physical dependence on any drug.
You cannot get high on ibuprofen
Second, ibuprofen euphoria does not exist, which eliminates the psychological dependence factor. Instead of working via the opioid receptors in the brain and body, ibuprofen pain relief is caused by blocking the creation of prostaglandin. Other prescription drugs work by blocking your perception of pain in the body, one side effect of this action being an extreme sense of well being, or euphoria. It is this high that people chase, and the reason why many people use pain killers with opioids. So because ibuprofen DOES NOT bring on an extreme sense of well-being, nor does ibuprofen create physical dependence, ibuprofen is NOT addictive.
Why the confusion about addiction potential?
Some people may take medications which contain addictive medicines IN COMBINATION with ibuprofen. And they want to measure the addiction liability of each. Generic and brand name pain pills that combine ibuprofen with either hydrocodone or oxycodone have fairly high addiction liability. Drugs that contain hydrocodone or oxycodone should be used for short term relief of pain, and are often not prescribed for longer than 7 days for the treatment of acute pain. This is because hydrocodone and oxycodone are some of the most abused and addictive medications in the U.S. today. How addictive is hydrocodone or oxycodone? Very, especially if used to feel high.
Here is an outline of the most popular brand name medicines containing ibuprofen and one or the other of these opioids.
H = hydrocodone
O = oxycodone
Brand name | opioid | DEA | For the use of
Combunox | O | CII | One week or less treatment of acute, moderate to severe pain
Ibudone | H | CIII | Short-term management of acute pain
Reprexain | H | CIII | Short-term management of acute pain
Vicoprofen | H | CIII | Short-term management of acute pain
Questions about pain pills?
Using oxycodone or hydrocodone for euphoric effect, or for other non-medical reasons can lead to moderate or low physical dependence and high psychological dependence. If you have questions about the use of either of these narcotic pain medications, please leave them below. We are happy to answer your questions personally or even respond by writing a new article!
Reference sources: Drug info on ibuprofen from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Wiki on the Controlled Substances Act
Short Acting Narcotic Analgesics Review
PubChem Ibuprofen Compound Summary
Photo credit: k.landerholm