Paracetamol: unconventional uses of a well-known drug



Bloukh S, Wazaify M & Matheson C (2021) Paracetamol: unconventional uses of a well-known drug. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice.

Objectives To describe and map what is known about unconventional uses of paracetamol through a scoping review of published literature by adopting adopted a PRISMA systematic approach methodology. Key findings Four themes for unconventional uses of paracetamol emerged: (a) use of paracetamol in sleep (a-1) positive effect of paracetamol on sleep (n = 9) or (a-2) neutral or negative effect of paracetamol on sleep (n = 9); (b) use of paracetamol in sport (n = 13); (c) mixing paracetamol with drinks, waterpipe and illicit drugs (n = 5); and (d) miscellaneous uses (n = 4). Forty records were reviewed and charted. Available literature supports concern around the potential of harmful or non-medical use of paracetamol, especially among patients with a history of substance use, parents of young children or athletes. Summary Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is one of the most popular and widely used drugs for the treatment of pain and fever. It is considered remarkably safe if used within instructions. However, there is growing evidence that paracetamol, is sometimes used outside approved indications or abused (i.e. used for non-medical reasons). This review highlights the need for enhanced pharmacovigilance and surveillance of non-medical paracetamol use and raising general public awareness of its potential dangers especially in higher than recommended doses.

paracetamol; acetaminophen; misuse; abuse; unconventional use

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

International Journal of Pharmacy Practice

StatusIn Press
Publication date online28/08/2021
Date accepted by journal04/08/2021

People (1)


Professor Catriona Matheson

Professor Catriona Matheson

Professor in Substance Use, Faculty of Social Sciences