Acetaminophen is a dangerous drug when it is taken recklessly. Since the drug is in almost every over the counter medicine most who take the drug do so without caution. Acetaminophen is the drug found in Tylenol and in Vicodin. The drug works to alleviate pain from headaches, minor aches or injuries and menstrual cramps. Almost everyone is at risk for an acetaminophen addiction. The addiction to this drug is less a chemical dependency like heroin or stronger opiate painkillers, but more of an emotional one. Addiction can strike anyone at any time and it is especially dangerous with this drug because there are no limitations to purchasing it. Most acetaminophen addicts do not understand they have an addiction because they are taking a drug that is “safe” for over the counter sales and it is in almost all those types of medications. Addiction to this drug is much more common than most would think and it has been linked to a number of suicides. As a result of this drug being deemed safe, it is often taken with alcohol, which is incredibly dangerous. Individuals who are addicted to acetaminophen are in high risk for severe long term health risks and more often than not emotionally unstable.


Acetaminophen is the generic name for Tylenol, which falls into two classes of drugs: analgesics and antipyretics. Analgesics raise the body’s pain threshold by acting on the neurotransmitters in the brain that deal with pain and pleasure. This drug can cause adverse side effects in an individual, which can push them to seek them by misusing the drugs. Antipyretics are fever reducers, which tell the heat center of the body that the temperature is too high. These drugs are safe when used as prescribed, but when they are consumed for other purposes or in higher doses they are dangerous.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are major problems in the United States. The government pours billions of dollars in drug prevention, education and other anti-drug services. Every year the drug problem continues to grow. Young adult and teenage abuse is a serious concern that also continues to grow. Acetaminophen is not considered a dangerous drug, nor is it at the top of the most abused drug list. That does not mean it is not dangerous. When a person becomes addicted to a drug they are dependent on that drug to function. They need the drug to feel normal. Addicts will place the drug at the top of their priorities list. Addicts will place their drug use above all other interests, hobbies or responsibilities. Those that use drugs or alcohol to change their moods, behaviors or feelings are addicts. Acetaminophen does not necessarily cause a chemical dependency like other harsher drugs. Acetaminophen addicts may use the drug for too long to treat other illnesses. Adults normally abuse this drug in an attempt to reduce chronic pain. Long term use for pain will require increased dosages and frequency of those doses. This can cause serious liver, stomach and intestinal damage. Most people suffer from dangerous and painful ulcers from over-using acetaminophen. It can also cause these individuals to seek stronger more dangerous drugs like opiate painkillers. These drugs have been the cause of serious drug abuse and addiction.

Extended acetaminophen abuse and addiction can happen in young adults. Young women begin taking acetaminophen at young ages to cope with the pain of menstrual cramps. This causes long term abuse and addiction that can last for several years. This discomfort pushes these women towards more powerful painkillers, which are even more dangerous. Young athletes are also at risk for acetaminophen addiction. The stress and pressure that is placed on young adults to perform at high levels can cause them to seek relief from pain in acetaminophen. Athletes often hide the pain of injury from coaches, trainers and parents by consuming excessive amounts of acetaminophen.

Detecting Addiction

Detecting an addiction can be difficult. Addiction is normally characterized by a drastic, yet progressive change in physical appearance, emotional stability, social dysfunction and psychological changes. Addicts will begin to isolate themselves as their addiction worsens. They will lose interest in normal activities. School or work will no longer be important and will reflect in their production and effort. Acetaminophen addicts will not hide the amount of drugs they will take, normally, because the drugs are not considered to be that dangerous; plus they are not illegal. Families will notice a loved one constantly consuming Tylenol, aspirin or another acetaminophen drug regularly or constantly going for more. Any odd actions should be addressed. Confronting an addict can seem difficult, but a simple and friendly conversation is all that is necessary.

Withdrawal Effects

When an individual abruptly stops consuming drugs or alcohol after an extended period of drug/alcohol use or abuse they can experience withdrawal effects. These are the sensations that the body emits from not getting its regular dose of that drug. The symptoms are different depending on what drug you have been taking. Most people do not believe that acetaminophen is a dangerous drug, but it is. The drug can cause various withdrawal symptoms to which the severity depends on dosage and length of time it was taken. For those who take the drug regularly for headaches or migraines the drug can cause what is known as a rebound headache. When the medication wears off, the headache returns. When this happens the individual normally consumes more of the drug, which causes a dangerous cycle. Others have experienced severe cases of anxiety, depression or panic attacks. These are very serious issues that should be addressed by a medical professional. Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms must seek professional help immediately.

Getting Help

Acetaminophen addiction is a very real, very dangerous problem that thousands suffer from. This problem is difficult to detect since the drug is understood to be a normal, almost everyday, ‘medicine. Painkillers like these are never safe to be taken consistently over a long period of time. Long term use can cause serious health hazards that include liver, stomach and intestinal damage. These problems can be life threatening and therefore this drug should not be consumed regularly. Everyone can understand taking an aspirin every now and again for a headache or minor ache, but repeated use over extended periods of time can be disastrous. Young adults have taken to using this drug to mask some of the pain they encounter on a daily basis. Those suffering from depression or anxiety can turn to painkillers for a way out. These individuals are in serious emotional and mental danger. Some athletes may even turn to taking these drugs like candy to hide injuries from coaches or parents to stay on a team or in the game. The most common abuse of these drugs is from adults who take them for chronic pain in any capacity. They cause serious liver, stomach and intestinal damage that requires medical attention. If you or someone you know is abusing acetaminophen speak with them and a professional about help. Addiction is real and dangerous. Millions suffer from this problem every year, yet only a small fraction get the help they need. Speaking with a loved one is a great way to begin the journey towards a healthier life.