Addicted to Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is one of the most popular over-the-counter pain relievers on the market today. Acetaminophen (paracetamol) is an analgesic pain reliever that is found in headache remedies and cough and cold medications.  It is used by people of all ages with little or no side effects when used as directed. However, there are people who use the drug excessively, putting their health and the possibility of becoming addicted to acetaminophen at risk.

There are various over-the-counter (OTC) products and prescription drugs that contain acetaminophen. For this reason, it is important to research your prescriptions before combining them with over-the-counter medicines to avoid overdosing.

Some of the most familiar drugs that contain acetaminophen include, but are not limited to:

  • Over-the-counter drugs containing acetaminophen:
    • Actifed
    • Benadryl
    • Contac
    • Dayquil
    • Dimetapp
    • Excedrin
    • Nyquil
    • Sudafed
    • Tylenol
  • Prescription drugs containing acetaminophen:
    • Endocet
    • Hydrocet
    • Lortab
    • Percocet
    • Tylenol with codeine
    • Ultracet
    • Vicodin

Of course, the above list does not include store brand over-the-counter products that contain acetaminophen.  All in all, there are over 600 products, both OTC and prescription, that contain acetaminophen.

It is also important to note that prescription labels often list acetaminophen as “APAP” or “Acetam“.  If you are unsure, check with the pharmacist or your doctor.

Can a Person Become Addicted to Acetaminophen?

Few people take the time to read product labels when they purchase OTC pain relievers.  For this reason, their lack of awareness about the ingredients in the products is part of the cause of liver failure problems in the US today.

Although the medical community doesn’t consider acetaminophen addictive, a person can develop dependence or tolerance to the drug after repeated use.  For instance, a person using the drug for prolonged periods will eventually have to increase the dosage to get the desired effects, which can start the process of becoming addicted to acetaminophen.  In these situations, it is best to consult a physician for a stronger alternative.  In this way, the person will avoid suffering liver damage.

Some chronic users of acetaminophen suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug.  Withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, and anxiety are the most common.

Addiction is defined as the “repeated use of a substance despite the known consequences“.  Therefore, anyone who continues chronic use of acetaminophen after being advised of the dangers could be considered psychologically addicted.

What To Do About Acetaminophen Abuse

The main warning signs of pending liver problems is a yellowing of the skin known as jaundice.  If this symptom appears, contact a doctor immediately.  Treatment is available that can minimize or eliminate the damage before it’s too late.

If you are using acetaminophen products and fear that you are developing an increased tolerance to the drug, contact your physician as soon as possible.  He or she will be able to prescribe a more effective medicine that won’t require taking more than the recommended dosage.

When chronic pain stops responding to acetaminophen, there are alternatives that don’t include strong drugs.

For instance, you could consider the following:

  • Homeopathy
  • Naturaopathy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Hypnosis
  • Biofeedback
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

Of course, there are many other options for pain management that you can try.  The important thing is that you don’t continue to self-medicate with dangerous OTC drugs.

Learn more about being addicted to acetaminophen today.  Call our toll-free number now and talk with one of our representatives.

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