Is Naproxen Addictive?
Although naproxen is not addictive, abusing it can lead to tolerance and other adverse effects.
Naproxen/naproxen sodium is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication and prescription drug. Some of the brand names for naproxen include Anaprox DS, Naprelan, and Naprosyn. It’s also found over-the-counter as Aleve.
Naproxen is primarily used as a painkiller but it’s also used to treat tenderness, swelling, and stiffness that comes with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, back pain, menstrual cramps, gout, and tendonitis.
The pain medication is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
It works by blocking the enzyme that produces prostaglandins, which play a role in inflammation. Prostaglandins lead to redness, heat/fever, and pain, and naproxen stops them from forming in the body.
Other NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, and Advil), diclofenac, and aspirin.
Naproxen Abuse Potential
Naproxen is not considered addictive and is not classified as a controlled substance by the DEA/FDA. However, the drug can still be abused.
There are certain people who are more prone to abuse naproxen than others because of the pain they have on a regular basis, including:
- physically active people
- pregnant women
- chronic pain sufferers
Because naproxen doesn’t bind to opioid receptors in the brain, it doesn’t have the same euphoric and addictive effects as opioid pain relievers like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
When taking naproxen over long periods of time, you may increase the risk of tolerance. With tolerance, you need higher doses of naproxen to achieve the same effects you once experienced on a lower dose, and long-term use can lead to kidney and stomach issues.
Signs Of Naproxen Abuse
It can be hard to tell if someone is abusing naproxen because it’s a drug many people use for pain, but there are some signs and symptoms you can look out for:
- changes to regular habits
- social withdrawal
- mood changes
- brain fog
- reduced sex drive
- using high doses of naproxen
Side Effects Of Naproxen
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking naproxen as directed or abusing it, experiencing some side effects is common. These side effects can range in intensity depending on how high a dose you take.
Some of the most common side effects of naproxen can include:
- excessive thirst
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- stomach pain
Serious Side Effects Of Naproxen
There are also several rare but serious side effects that can occur when using naproxen, which may include:
- chest pain
- trouble breathing
- weakness in one part or side of your body
- difficulty speaking
- swelling of the face or throat
- high blood pressure
- ulcers in your stomach and gastrointestinal system
- bloody vomit
- blood in your stool
- yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
- swelling of your arms, legs, hands, and feet
- skin rash
Taking naproxen, especially long-term, can also lead to an increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
When naproxen is mixed with one of the following drugs, serious reactions can occur. The combinations can also increase the risk of an overdose.
The drugs that negatively interact with naproxen include:
- angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as benazepril (Lotensin)
- angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) like azilsartan (Edarbi), candesartan (Atacand), and losartan (Cozaar)
- beta-blockers like atenolol (Tenormin), labetalol (Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor and Toprol XL), and propranolol (Hemangeol)
- cholestyramine (Prevalite)
- cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, and Sandimmune)
- digoxin (Lanoxin)
- lithium (Lithobid)
- medications for diabetes
- methotrexate (Otrexup, Rasuvo, and Trexall)
- pemetrexed (Alimta and Pemfexy)
- phenytoin (Dilantin and Phenytek)
- probenecid (Probalan)
- sulfa medications like sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim and Septra)
A naproxen overdose occurs when you take more than the recommended or prescribed dosage. Because naproxen is so readily available, this can happen often and without someone realizing it.
Some of the signs and symptoms of a naproxen overdose may include:
- extreme tiredness
- stomach pain
- nausea and vomiting
- blurred vision
- severe headache
- ringing in the ears
- high blood pressure
- kidney failure
- trouble or labored breathing
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug abuse or addiction, you don’t have to suffer alone.
For information on our addiction treatment options, please contact us today.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
Addictive Behaviors - Identification of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use disorder: A case report
National Health Service (NHS) - Common questions about naproxen
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Naproxen
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