Panadol: the next party drug?

2 minute read

Maybe paracetamol is edgier than we thought.

Last week The Back Page revealed the unexpected health detriments of passing out drunk.

So it seems fitting to follow that up with a dose of Panadol, the world’s most boring drug.


Recent research suggests the tame little painkiller can blunt negative affect and increase risk-taking behaviour.

In a series of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, researchers tested the effects of a 1000mg dose of acetaminophen on healthy human lab rats undergraduates.

They measured students’ performance on a “BART” test, which is not the one where you see how many times you can grab an electrified cupcake.

Instead participants inflate a balloon on a computer screen, earning virtual money for each pump, but losing it all if they go too far and the balloon bursts. This, as far as they know, may happen AT ANY TIME. The earlier the participant decides to cash in, the lower their appetite for risk.

Analysis revealed a significant difference in risk-taking between the arms.

When asked to grade the risk/benefit of various activities (as various as bungee jumping and plagiarism), the acetaminophen group “perceived significantly less risk than those on placebo”.

But we’d be surprised if the results of a virtual balloon-pumping challenge for virtual money brought about the rebranding of paracetamol as a party drug – even though “Dolly” has that ring to it.

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