Tuesday September 2nd 2014

Can you get high on naproxen?

No, you cannot get high on naproxen.

In fact, naproxen is a non-narcotic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) commonly prescribed and available over the counter. We’ll review the common uses of naproxen, the ways that naproxen affects the central nervous system and naproxen’s addiction liability here. Please leave your questions or comments about naproxen use at the end!

Naproxen chemistry and use

Naproxen is a non-narcotic pain medications frequently prescribed for the treatment of headaches and other minor aches and pains. Naproxen is also helpful when used as an anti-inflammatory agent for conditions such as arthritis and other disorders of the muscles and bones. But how does naproxen work? And is naproxen different than other prescription pain pills?

The way that naproxen works in the body is fundamentally different to other opioid prescription pain killers that contain oxycodone, tramadol, or hydrocodone. These stronger pain medications bind to opioid receptors in the body and are KNOWN and even expected to cause central nervous system reactions such as euphoria (an extreme sense of well being) or dissociation. This is why these drugs can make you feel high.

In contrast, the chemical reactions that occur in the body after taking naproxen are totally different. Naproxen is in a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs work by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. As naproxen enters the bloodstream, cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes that produce prostaglandin are blocked, and pain decreases in minutes to hours. In sum, NSAIDs do not bind to opioid receptors in the brain and body, and DO NOT produce euphoric effect.

Naproxen and central nervous system effects

However, there are other ways that naproxen affects the central nervous system. Naproxen may cause neurological effects which can alter or impair physical or mental abilities and affect performance. These include:

  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • lightheadedness
  • slowed mental alertness

Naproxen can also cause side effects which affect the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems of the body. Furthermore, alcohol consumption increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding when combined with naproxen.

Drugs that contain naproxen

Aleve
Anaprox
Anaprox DS
EC-Naprosyn
Mediproxen
Midol Extended Relief
Naprelan
Naprosyn
Pamprin Maximum Strength All Day Relief

Can I get addicted to naproxen?

No, people who take naproxen as a long-term medication do not develop tolerance for naproxen or experience withdrawal when they stop taking the drug. Additionally, because you cannot get high on naproxen, you cannot develop a mental dependence on it. However, you should ask your doctor about possible drug interactions before you start taking naproxen regularly, and always seek help if you experience skin changes such as rashes or swelling, difficulty breathing or difficulty urinating.

Questions about naproxen use?

Please forward us your questions about naproxen or other NSAIDs. If we cannot answer them personally, we can help you find an answer or a referral.

Reference sources: NIAAA Alcohol and Medication Interactions
Naproxen: Drug Information
Provided by Lexi-Comp
Prescription Drug Abuse from Indian Health Service

Drug info on naproxen from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

Photo credit: Brandice Schnabel

Leave a Reply

6 Responses to “Can you get high on naproxen?
Haider Ijaz
3:39 pm February 17th, 2014

I have been using Naproxen for three years. I used to first eat it twice a day. And now I take half tablet at night. The problem is if I leave it, I get neck pain and can’t sleep. my condition gets worse. I tried different tabelts but only naproxen makes me sleep. I want to know if I am addicted or not.

3:15 pm February 18th, 2014

Hello Haider. It’s possible that you’re experiencing drug dependence. This is different than drug addiction. During dependence, your central nervous system adapts to the presence of naproxen and goes through withdrawal when you don’t have it. However, if you want to sleep without naproxen, I’d suggest that you see a pain specialist.

Haider Ijaz
6:04 pm February 18th, 2014

I am really happy to hear back from you. The thing is I have seen almost every possible doctor. I have had MRI, X-ray, NCS of my right hand. There is nothing wrong. My family members term my pain as psychological pain. They say that I have got addicted to Naproxen that is why even if I take half tablet of 500mg naproxen, I sleep atleast peacefully for the night. If I take any other medicine be it strong pain killers, I can’t sleep. I get severe neck pain that goes to my head as well. Many doctors diagnosed that I have nothing serious. At first it was associated to a fall that I had while playing cricket.

4:32 pm February 19th, 2014

Hello Haider. I’d suggest that you refer your family to this article. As naproxen has no euphoric effect, it’s not possible to become addicted to it. They’ll need to understand the difference between dependence, habit forming, and addictive in order to help you.

Haider Ijaz
4:50 pm February 19th, 2014

I read this out to them. They have understood. But the thing is they want me to get rid of naproxen. It’s been three years. This started in 2010. And now I can’t sleep without half tablet of naproxen 500 mg. Otherwise I get such pain in neck near shoulder on right side and headache that tears start to come at one point.

Kathy
1:45 am August 1st, 2014

I have been taking Naproxen for nearly a year for my menopausal migrains. I am scared to go anywhere without it. I usually take Amyltriptan first and then Omprezole to line the stomach, wait one hour if I can bear it then take 500 mg Naproxen. It’s brilliant and always takes away the pain. A doctor I work with told me Naproxen is a dangerous drug. I take one tablet two or three times a month. Is that dangerous? I am otherwise fit 51 year old female.

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