Frequent and increasing use of over-the-counter analgesics (OTCA) is a public health concern. Pain conditions and psychological distress are related to frequent OTCA use, and as exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTE) in childhood appears to increase risk of experiencing such symptoms, we aimed to assess childhood PTEs and related symptoms in adolescence as predictors for frequent OTCA use in young adulthood. Prospective population survey data were used (n = 2947, 59.1% female, 10-13 years follow-up). Exposure to PTEs, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, musculoskeletal pain and headache were assessed in adolescence (13-19 years). Use of OTCA was assessed in young adulthood (22-32 years) and use of OTCA to treat musculoskeletal pain and headache served as separate outcomes in ordinal logistic regression analyses. Overall, exposure to childhood PTEs, particularly direct interpersonal violence, was significantly and consistently related to more frequent use of OTCA to treat musculoskeletal pain and headaches in young adulthood. Adjusting for psychological symptoms and pain attenuated associations, indicating that these symptoms are of importance for the relationship between traumatic events and OTCA use. These findings emphasize the need to address symptomatology and underlying causes at an early age.