Can you get addicted to ibuprofen?

No, you cannot get addicted to ibuprofen. But some drugs that are combined with ibuprofen such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and pseudoephedrine can be addictive. Learn more about ibuprofen combination medications here.

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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
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. The last comment mentioned competing drug companies leaving fake comments. That’s the silliest thing I’ve heard. First, it’s illegal which anti-net neutrality comments are being investigated right now for cellular companies doing this. The pharma industry is huge. You might pay a $20 copay but insurance is dropping $600-$1200 for an average prescription. I was addicted to these as a teenager, it’s easy. You feel pain, you take a pill and you don’t feel pain. I played sports heavily combined with an honors college prep course load was stressful. I knew I had a problem when I was bleeding everywhere in class and someone had to tell me because I didn’t feel a thing. You can get addicted to anything. Pornography, Snickers, tanning. Whatever affects dopamine or serotonin can mentally addict- whereas the OP is addressing clinical dependency which is something else entirely.

  2. A lot of comments on here that go against science and research. I’m starting to wonder if these are fake comments by companies who are competitors to the makers of Ibuprofen!

  3. I have been taking ibuprofen, four in the morning, four at night, for one year. I had knee replacement surgery starting in January and then the second in April. Ibuprofen and a pain medication to begin with and then continuing ibuprofen after. I developed bleeding ulcers in April and lost three pints of blood, spent five days in the hospital taking a antibiotic intravenously for 72 hours. Found out then that I had Hpilory and four ulcers. Doctors told me that ibuprofen was a 50% contributing factor in the bleeding. So I stopped. That was April 19, 2018. I didn’t know that I had ulcers because I never have problems with my stomach and there was absolutely no stomach pain.

    Now I have swollen, achy eyes, lots of body pain, knees, too, extremely tired, headaches (don’t normally have headaches), fatigue, drowsiness. I stopped ibuprofen on April 19 about 2-1/2 months have gone by and I still have the symptoms. Don’t know how much longer this will go on, but I am thinking that, hopefully, by Christmas, I will be back to normal. I am 75, so I think that it may take me longer than a younger person.

    I did speak to my doctor yesterday and asked about addiction. He said not addiction, but maybe physical dependency. That my body is missing the drug. Seems to be the same to me.

    To anyone reading these posts, stay away from this kind of over the counter medication. May cause you problems that you could better be without.

  4. I got gout a few months ago. I am strict on food free of proteins that can increase my joints pain and swelling. Taking at the same time feburic to decrease my uric acid which is low now. I started diclofenac 50 mg but felt it is not effective. So changed to ibubrufen 400 mg also no good control of pain. So i started and till now on 600 mg. First every 12 hours but found pain comes back after 6-8 hours so I take it now every 9-10 hours. I tried to stop taking ibubrufen for a few days ,but could not continue stopping it. Feeling like having cold to the degree i thought I have virus infection which is not the case. Now I am feeling my joints near getting free. But unfortunately I found that if my ibubrufen dose not taken before 10 hours , all my joints get severe pain different type than that from my curing gout.Not only this, but for last 2 days pains are in all my body. I was wondering since 1 month if ibubrufen is causing addiction but I did not search for answer till today when I got this all body aches 2 days if dose delayed more than 8 hours. I was lucky to find this article to share with all my experience and benefit from other shares which I found similar to what I have.I got conclusion that I will sooner or later have a big fight withdrawing my ibubrufen which I expect it 2-3 months later. I plan to do it gradually by shifting back to 400 mg b.i.d. prolonging time of frequency to 14 then 16 hours every a few days till I get rid of it completely. Anyhow, I am now psychologically prepared to the fight.

  5. Ibuprofen can be extremely addictive. A few years ago, a good friend of mine became extremely dependent psychologically and physically on ibuprofen. She used it to cope with feelings of extreme undiagnosed depression and anxiety. With doses upwards of 8,000 mg, she would experience many effects associated with “highs” such as elation, giddiness, calm, and relief with serious hangovers, filled with headaches and nausea. When trying to quit over the course of a year, she experienced withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, headaches, and suicidal breakdowns. After proffesional therapy both addiction and depression, she was able to shake her addiction. I think the risk of OTC painkiller is underestimated.

  6. Addiction and habituation are different and the distinction is important. I do not know of any incidences where someone has upped the ante on the mg of ibuprofen they take “for fun” or for a cognitive secondary effect whereas narcotics can become addictive when chasing the side effects. That being said, habituation to an anti prostoglandin drug can be serious and withdrawal can be debilitating. Case in point, I have been taking ibuprofen for hip pain for years and have to go off it for surgery. Nitemare. Pounding headaches, temporal spasms, tinnitus and of course the original pain returning with a vengeance. You can use a short course of prednisone to get through the worst of an ibuprofen taper but you’ll still have the original pain for which it was intended. I would still rather be habituated to ibuprofen than narcotics because ibuprofen doesn’t impact clarity of thinking whereas narcotics make me stupid. Looking forward to hip surgery and an ibuprofen-free life.

  7. I rencetly came off of Avil after taking it for 15 years anywhere from 4-8 pills a day. I had chronic pain and the 20 doctors could not figure it out. Well I did a month ago. I never took anything else as there was no point so advil was the least worst drug to take and not %100 effective so I had to cope with the pain..

    After quiting cold turkey I didn’t feel the need but I felt that I had to take it. I was scared to do anything because I know the pain would be coming if I didnt take it. Over the next few days I knew I was not myself, I was angry and easily aggitated for no reason at all. The good news was that I was selfware of it but I couldn’t control it so I had to keep to avoid my family as it wasn’t fair to them. I got dizzy spells as well. Other than that, that’s it…. All is good now.

  8. I have bee taking Advil for years for back pain and stiffness in my joints I would take 4 at a time and sometimes take it 4 times a day.(my doctor told me not to take more than 12 a day) Than I started just taking it at bedtime and in the morning. I than tried to cut it out a little at a time, for the last few months I do not take it unless I can’t stand the pain. However I have noticed I have been getting sick to my stomach and headaches making me sick, trying not to take any Advil but today I did because I could not stand it, than it made me realize could this be a withdraw from not taking it all the time? That is why I started to look online to see if I could be right, by the way taking it made me feel so much better? I would say I am addicted and need to find a way to stop taking it.

  9. Used to take Ibuprofen occasionally, maybe about two pills a month. (this was 9yrs. ago) I noticed that I would occasionally get a severe tension neck headache, that would ONLY be stopped by taking an Ibuprofen. So I stopped taking Ibuprofen, and suffered through the pain, and it eventually stopped coming back. A couple of years later I took ‘an’ Ibuprofen for something else. It took three months after taking it for the tension headaches to stop. So I stopped ever taking any Ibuprofen. That was about seven years ago, no headaches sense.

  10. I started taking ibuprofen 800mg that my oral surgeon perscribed me after getting my wisdom teeth pulled. Once I started taking the pills I noticed I was able to stay up a lot later than usual. I wasn’t able to go to bed until 1AM for the three days I was off work & I’m usually passed out by 8 or 9. On the fourth night I was wide awake in bed from 9pm to 1am, I had to be up at 3AM to be at work, so I got no sleep, but I still wasn’t tired & once I got home I was a little tired but fought the nap, took my daily pain releaver (ibuprofen) and the same thing happened the next night. I could not sleep! Is this a possible side affect? Maybe due to addiction? My mom is an addict and I’m wondering if I have the gene?

  11. Hello Yvonne. Hydrocodone is often mixed with NSAIDs like ibuprofen, paracetemol, or aspirin. They are then branded as brand name drugs like Vicodin or Vicuprofen. You can learn more about the dosage he’s using of ibuprofen and take your concerns to a pharmacist; you can benefit from expert medical opinion on this one, in terms of limits and precautions.

  12. I have a 36 year old son who takes hydrocodone his drug of choice. Every morning he grabs at least 4 ibuprofens, and goes out the door to work. My question is, If he is doing hydrocodone, and then taking the ibuprofens, what effects is it giving him? How dangerous is this to him?

  13. To Kim S: My doctor helped me get off the Ibuprofen by giving me a low, tapering dose of prednisone. This was after she saw the agony I was experiencing. The Prednisone helped tremendously. Perhaps your boyfriend’s doctor could help with something like this. It would need to be a doctor with experience with medication overuse conditions. Good luck!

  14. Hello Kim S. Does he still need the pills for medical purposes? If not, you can talk to him and convince him to throw them away, but make sure he hasn’t stashed any and can’t change his mind. After only a week on the med he shouldn’t struggle to stop taking it. Be there for him, but be strict about him staying away from the drug.

  15. Hi, my boyfriend was prescribed ibuprofen 800mg from a hospital after an ER visit for his wisdom teeth. It’s been almost week (6 days) he has to take the pills three times a day or so. When he doesn’t, he starts to get very irritable and dizzy with a headache and nauseous. He told me he feels dependent. He said he feels like his body is demanding it and needs it. His mood has changed quite a bit since taking the pills. He gets really moody when he needs them again and physically he feels ill. I hate seeing him like this. He has a family history of pill addiction. I don’t want that to happen to him.

  16. As anyone who has progressed from episodic migraine to chronic migraine because of Ibuprofen overuse. The dependency is nasty and if you try to get off of the Ibuprofen, the migraine pain that goes on for up to 3 months is agonizing. It is not addiction like heroin addiction, but it is dependency and has very clear withdrawal symptoms.

  17. Advil withdrawal: after years of taking Advil for pain in my head and neck due to injury I developed chronic daily headaches that responded only to Advil. If I did not take Advil I would develop a worse headaches chills and eventually a migraine. Now im dealing with stomach ulcers and blood clotting linked to the extended use of advil. My dr is helping break the cycle with lidocaine shots in the back of my head and prednisone over a period of 10 days. This is day 10. The right side of my head hurts so badly I’m nearly incapacitated. It’s real. It’s painful. I’m not getting better yet but I’m 11 days off of Advil, depressed about the continual pain but not giving up yet. Good luck everyone out there dealing with this.

  18. Hi Helen. Addiction occurs when you begin to experience psychological cravings or obsessions for a drug of choice. You turn to it for psycho-emotional support. If you are taking these prescription medications as prescribed, you may become physically dependents on certain drugs that affect the central nervous system. But this is not the same as addiction. Speak with your prescribing doctor about your concerns.

  19. I have a very painful type of MS with crushing paraesthesia, intensfying at night..
    I take one (prescribed) 2mg tablet of diazepam and one 50 mg tablet of diclofenac at night – just two or three times a week, and on very rare occasions, 4 times. Never more.
    I also have a 10 mg Lisinopril tablet for hypertension every morning.

    I am 78 and have no chronic health probs but MS.

    Am I in any danger of addiction, and is the hazard from tablet combination a threat?

  20. Hi Ken. The maximum amount of ibuprofen for adults is 800 mg per dose or 3200 mg per day. I’d suggest that you check in with an orthopedist for an evaluation and diagnosis. How long were you using ibuprofen without stopping?

  21. I was on the camino in Spain and was using Ibuprofen to control pain from foot swelling. I also sustained injuries to my right heel and later developed bursitis in the left knee because of all the limping. I took more Ibuprofen. In Spain the non-perscription Ibuprofen is 600mg, quite a bit stronger than we get here in NA. I was taking this stuff 3 times a day.

    I stopped taking Ibuprofen when I got home. I had several days where there were headaches, nausea, and dizzyness. I thought I had a bad cold or flu but now am wondering if there is a detox effect going on. I am starting to feel pain in my feet again though thats probably the nerves in my feet recovering from the abuse. Abuse because I had kept walking instead of resting.

    1. Hi ken, I’m going through the same withdrawal symptoms you’ve described. After a car accident about a year ago, I’ve been taking 600 mg every day for back and neck pain. Every time I try to skip a day I end up with body aches, chills , headache, and symptoms very similar to the flu. I’m slowly decreasing the dose.
      I’ve read only six other cases through google with these symptoms. I think these symptoms should be reported and studied because there is no site on the Internet (that I’ve found) that states withdrawal symptoms from ibuprofen.

  22. Hi Judy. I’d suggest talking with a family doctor . It’s possible that you might benefit from a short-term use of anti-anxiety medications or other pharmaceutical interventions…or that there are lifestyle changes you can make to ease these symptoms.

  23. Been taking Advil PM for years for sleep. Stopped taking them cold turkey and have been suffering harrible anxiety and panic.


  24. Hi Tim. Thanks for sharing more about your experience with Advil and ibuprofen. Although medical authorities have found no clinical link to chemical dependence, tolerance or withdrawal, I feel clear that there are cases where these symptoms exist. What did you do when you went through Advil withdrawal? Anything that can help others?

  25. This artical is wrong. You can be addicted to Advil. Trust me, I have gone through the withdraw aleady and it’s aweful. If you have a headache for a couple days in a row and you continue to have headaches you take Advil. Than when your real headaches are gone your body beings to go through withdraw and it wants more
    So you begin to get more headaches more frequently untill you realize your taking Advil every day and you need to stop. If
    You take Advil more than 3 times a week just stop. It’s really bad for you and if you are addicted the withdraw only last about a week ad it’s only headaches you have to deal with so just do it.

  26. Thanks for your feedback. I believe the withdrawal involved my body coping with a detox process. Once off it I have been absolutely fine.
    WIthdrawal involved dizziness, headache, extreme weakness, high levels of nausea, light sensitivity lasting 10 days – in general a bit like a hangover.

    With regard to the psychological component, I experienced a certain comfort in taking it and became unable to sleep without it. Other people I have spoken to have mentioned this comfort element to ibuprofen, saying it feels like they are taking sweets. There is a site on Facebook called ‘Ibuprofen are dispensable candy’. They are sweet to the taste and feel a bit like smarties in shape and size. I think this is dangerous. Also, it only says on the leaflet that you should not take for more than 8 days. I believe it should say this on the box (such a warning is present on Cocodomol boxes. I didn’t realise until I started vomiting alot after I ate that it was affecting my stomach. I think you can become dependant without being obsessed.

    Obviously it’s a lot more moderate level of addiction than other drugs and part of the problem is in not realising the addiction is happening because ibuprofen is such a widely used and accepted medication.

  27. Hi Lucy. Thanks for your comment. I do believe that you can become physically dependent on many chemicals, and ibuprofen may be one of them. As you experienced withdrawal from ibuprofen, this seems to be testimony to how your body reacted without it. What withdrawal symptoms did you experience?

    But the psychological component of drug seeking, or obsession is not present with ibuprofen. In a medical sense, complaints drug use despite negative consequences must be present to officially call a drug “addictive”.

  28. Ibuprofen is addictive. I was taking it regularly for 20 months and got horrific withdrawal effects. I also eventually got terrible side effects from taking it. It may not be as addictive as other drugs or pain killers but it is still possible to rely on it. Also as one of the side effects can be headaches, it creates a vicious cycle.

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