Addiction What Is an Ibuprofen Addiction? By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Published on January 28, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Guido Mieth / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Is an Ibuprofen Addiction? Symptoms Diagnosis Causes Impact Treatment What Is an Ibuprofen Addiction? Ibuprofen is a type of medication classified as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). People take ibuprofen for fevers, headaches, body pain, stiffness, and swelling. Some people take it on a long-term basis to manage severe or chronic pain, caused by arthritis or cystic fibrosis, for instance. Ibuprofen works by inhibiting the production of substances that cause pain, inflammation, and fever. Branded versions of ibuprofen include Motrin, Midol, and Advil; however, there are several generic versions as well. While some ibuprofen medications require a prescription, non-prescription strength ibuprofen is available over the counter at most supermarkets and drugstores. Ibuprofen is available in the form of tablets, capsules, chewable tablets, and liquid medication. Over 11% of ibuprofen users take over the prescribed dosage and have the potential to become dependent on the medication, says Angeleena May, LMHC, Executive Director at AMFM Healthcare. “Most people think of addiction as either abusing prescription medications, excessive alcohol use, or substances one may obtain in a dark alley, not an over-the-counter medication that is thought to be safe and effective for people as young as 3 months old. However, ibuprofen addiction is real and there can be serious side effects,” says May. This article explores the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of ibuprofen addiction. Symptoms of an Ibuprofen Addiction A case study recorded the symptoms of a person who met the DSM-5 criteria for moderate substance use disorder, as she took more than the amount of ibuprofen prescribed to her. The criteria she met included: Developing a tolerance to ibuprofen Using more ibuprofen than was prescribed or intended Failure to stop using ibuprofen Craving ibuprofen Signs of an Overdose Taking too much ibuprofen could result in an overdose. The symptoms of an ibuprofen overdose include: AgitationBlurred visionChills ConfusionConvulsions DiarrheaDizziness DrowsinessHeartburnLow blood pressureNauseaRash Ringing earsSevere headacheSlow or labored breathingStomach painSweating Unsteadiness VomitingWeakness Wheezing If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Diagnosing an Ibuprofen Addiction If you suspect that you or a loved one have an ibuprofen addiction, May recommends seeing a licensed mental healthcare professional right away. May considers ibuprofen addiction a mental health disorder that should be classified as a somatic disorder—similar to other compulsive, addictive, or anxiety-motivated disorders. Your healthcare provider will conduct a formal assessment of your symptoms and medical history in order to diagnose your condition, determine its severity, and develop a treatment plan. Causes of Ibuprofen Addiction Ibuprofen addiction can be motivated by physical causes as well as emotional reasons. May outlines some of the causes below. Physical Dependence Over 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain and taking over-the-counter pain medication is typically the first line of defense. However, reliance on these types of medications may increase pain. If taken more frequently or at a higher dosage than directed, you may experience more intense and additional symptoms once the medication is discontinued. When the effect of the ibuprofen wears off, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, prompting you to take more medication. This creates an addictive cycle. Taking any medication, including over-the-counter medications, should be discussed with your primary care physician. Emotional Dependence Many forms of trauma and depression manifest through physical ailments and, without intervention from a licensed therapist, may be misdiagnosed. It’s important to understand that addictive behaviors and substance use are often motivated by unresolved mental health issues and address the underlying cause through a dual-diagnosis mental health and substance use-focused treatment program. Impact of an Ibuprofen Addiction Ibuprofen use and abuse can put you at risk for health conditions such as: Heart attackHoles in the stomach or intestineKidney damageLiver damageStrokeUlcers The risk of developing these conditions is higher for those who have been taking ibuprofen for a long time. Treating an Ibuprofen Addiction Mental health treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma-based therapies to resolve underlying needs currently not being met in a person's life, which may include acceptance of self, safety, contentment, or feeling in control, says May. Treatment for substance use generally incorporates the following principles: Addiction is a disease that alters brain function and affects behavior. It is complex, but treatable. There is no one-size-fits-all form of treatment. Treatment must be customized to the individual’s needs and modified as their needs evolve. In order to be effective, treatment shouldn’t address only substance use; it needs to cater to multiple needs of the individual. It’s important for the individual to continue treatment for an adequate amount of time. Relapses may occur, so the healthcare provider must monitor the individual carefully. Why Quitting an Addiction Can Be So Challenging A Word From Verywell While ibuprofen is a medication that provides pain-relief, it can cause side effects, particularly if consumed in excess of the recommended dosage or over a long period of time. An ibuprofen addiction can put you at risk for an overdose as well as other serious health conditions, including heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and liver damage. If you or a loved one have an ibuprofen addiction, it’s important to seek help right away. How to Find the Right Addiction Recovery Program for You 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Library of Medicine. Ibuprofen. MedlinePlus. Irvine J, Afrose A, Islam N. Formulation and delivery strategies of ibuprofen: challenges and opportunities. Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 2018;44(2):173-183. doi:10.1080/03639045.2017.1391838 Kaufman DW, Kelly JP, Battista DR, Malone MK, Weinstein RB, Shiffman S. Exceeding the daily dosing limit of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs among ibuprofen users. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 2018;27(3):322-331. doi:10.1002/pds.4391 Godersky ME, Vercammen LK, Ventura AS, Walley AY, Saitz R. Identification of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use disorder: A case report. Addict Behav. 2017;70:61-64. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.02.008 National Library of Medicine. Ibuprofen overdose. MedlinePlus. American Psychiatric Association. What is a substance use disorder? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain among adults—United States, 2016. By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.