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In a study, Aleve® was proven to be as effective* and longer lasting than a common prescription pain reliever for minor pain management.¹

*Based on clinical study vs Hydrocodone + Acetaminophen during the first 4 hours after initial dosing.

Charlene Ng

Vice President and Head of U.S. Medical Affairs, Bayer Consumer Health

“There are many effective non-opioid minor pain relief options available.”

America doesn’t do anything halfway — including opioid addiction. The United States uses 80% of the opioids in the world, and this has led to a full-scale epidemic of overdose deaths in this country.² The numbers are grim: 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses

Even more alarming than the statistics is how avoidable the crisis should be, because opioids are often unnecessary — and there are effective over-the-counter alternatives to relieve minor pain.

“Many consumers think prescription opioids are the only option for reliable and effective pain relief,” said Charlene Ng, vice president and head of U.S. Medical Affairs at Bayer Consumer Health. “They don’t realize that for some of them, it may just take a short course to produce physiological effects that can make them vulnerable to opioid use disorder.”

Dangers of addiction

One reason people fall into addiction involves persistent myths surrounding it, like the belief that addiction is a failure of mental discipline or self-control, or that it affects only certain socioeconomic groups. The fact is that anyone can become addicted to opioids. Addiction has a well-described physiological and biochemical dependence that leads to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and tolerance. 

Perhaps the most persistent and damaging myth about opioid addiction is that it requires purposeful abuse of the drug. In reality, even a short course of prescribed opioids can lead to dependency. The typical addict looks like your neighbors, coworkers, or relatives, and their addiction may well have started in a doctor’s office. 

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 80% of patients who had their wisdom teeth extracted were prescribed opioids, and the people who received those prescriptions were much more likely to still be using opioids a year later.⁴

Non-opioid relief

The best way to avoid becoming addicted to opioids is to skip taking them altogether. Many pain management guidelines, including those created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) instead of opioids as first-line treatments for minor dental pain.⁵ 

“Consumers should speak to their doctor about trying an NSAID first for minor pain relief rather than filling a prescription opioid right away,” Ng advised.

Contrary to popular misconception, NSAIDs can be as effective as opioids in managing minor pain, and are known to be non-addictive. A recent study, for example, showed that naproxen sodium, the active ingredient in Aleve®, provided pain relief that was equal* to a commonly prescribed opioid (hydrocodone + acetaminophen), was better tolerated, and lasted longer.¹ In fact, Aleve® is the longest-lasting branded pain reliever you can buy over the counter in the United States.

“In a head-to-head dental pain study comparing Aleve® to a commonly prescribed opioid,” Ng noted, “adverse event reporting showed Aleve® with only one event (somnolence) compared to 18 events for the opioid (mainly nausea, vomiting, and dizziness).” 

Considering the dangers inherent in using opioids, anyone needing to manage minor pain after a procedure should be wary of them — and be aware of their other options. 

“There are many effective non-opioid minor pain relief options available,” Ng advised. “Patients should talk to their doctor about these options before using an opioid.”

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1.  Stephen A. Cooper, Paul J Desjardins, Todd Bertoch, Alberto Paredes-Diaz, Emanuel Troullos, Azita Tajaddini, Robert Centofanti, Robert An & Donna Morella (2022) Analgesic efficacy of naproxen sodium versus hydrocodone/acetaminophen in acute postsurgical dental pain. Postgraduate Medicine. 134:5, 463-470, DOI: 10.1080/00325481.2021.2008180

2.  Manchikanti L, Singh A. Therapeutic opioids: a ten-year perspective on the complexities and complications of the escalating use, abuse, and nonmedical use of opioids. Pain Physician. 2008 Mar;11(2 Suppl):S63-88. PMID: 18443641.

3. Scholl L, Seth P, Kariisa M, Wilson N, Baldwin G. Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths – United States, 2013-2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018 Jan 4;67(5152):1419-1427. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm675152e1. PMID: 30605448; PMCID: PMC6334822.

4. Harbaugh CM, Nalliah RP, Hu HM, Englesbe MJ, Waljee JF, Brummett CM. Persistent Opioid Use After Wisdom Tooth Extraction. JAMA. 2018;320(5):504–506. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.9023

5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guideline Recommendations and Guiding Principles.

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