How it’s used

You can buy a number of pain-relieving medicines without a prescription. These are for treating mild to moderate pain, flu symptoms or high temperatures. If you use them for too long you can become addicted.

Short-term effects

•    Relieve mild to moderate pain

Long-term effects

•    Damage to the liver and kidneys
Other dangers
•    If you drink alcohol while taking painkillers you increase the negative effects
•    Overdose

If you are pregnant

If you use these drugs, talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a baby.


As they are so easy to get you may become psychologically addicted, so you feel you need them to cope. Some of them can also cause physical addiction.


If you take more than the recommended dose over a long period you will have withdrawal if you stop suddenly. Withdrawal is less severe if you reduce your dose gradually. You may feel unwell, anxious and uneasy.

How long does it stay in your system?

This depends on what drug you take and how much you take.