Non opioid drugs

You might take non opioid painkillers for mild to moderate pain. You can also take them alongside stronger painkillers for more severe pain. There are different types. 

Non opioid drugs include:

  • paracetamol
  • anti inflammatory drugs, these are also called non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)


Paracetamol is a painkiller for mild to moderate pain.

It has a number of different brand names, for example Panadol, Anadin and Calpol. Paracetamol can also be in other medicines such as Anadin Extra and cold remedies like Beechams and Benylin. In America, it is also known as acetaminophen or Tylenol. Paracetamol seems to work by blocking chemical messages in the brain that tell us we have pain.

You can take paracetamol as:

  • tablets
  • capsules
  • caplets
  • soluble tablets
  • a syrup that you drink
  • an injection into a vein (this is only used in hospitals)

You can get paracetamol on prescription or buy it from a pharmacy or other shops such as your local supermarket. There is a limit on the amount you can buy. For example, a supermarket can only sell packets of 16 tablets. And a pharmacy will only allow you to buy 32 tablets at one time. 

Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs

Anti inflammatory drugs are very good for relieving bone and muscle pain. They can help improve pain relief when you take them with stronger painkillers.

There are many different non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs. They include:

  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • diclofenac (Voltarol)

How you have them

You can have these drugs in different ways. These include:

  • as a liquid or tablet every 4 to 8 hours
  • as slow release tablets that you take every 12 hours
  • as an injection
  • as suppositories inserted into your back passage

Some of these drugs are available without a prescription. But always ask your doctor for advice on when and if to take them. They can irritate your stomach lining. You shouldn't take them if you have any history of stomach ulcers or stomach bleeding.

Some non opioid drugs can also slow the time it takes for your blood to clot. So, you shouldn’t take them with other drugs that slow your blood clotting, such as warfarin.

Some of the drugs can have an effect on how your kidneys work.

Side effects

We have more detailed information about the possible side effects of anti inflammatory drugs.

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