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Benadryl Addiction and Abuse

Diphenhydramine is an over-the-counter antihistamine medication commonly known under the brand name Benadryl. Benadryl can be bought without a prescription and is easy to obtain. However, it has some extremely dangerous side effects if the dose is not controlled. Misusing diphenhydramine can be intentional, whereby people mix it with other substances such as alcohol or take large quantities at once. In different scenarios, individuals can unintentionally use more than is medically advised. Whether purposeful or not, misusing this substance can bring extremely dangerous and even fatal side effects if an overdose occurs.

Even if the guidelines for use are followed, Benadryl can produce some uncomfortable symptoms. It is essential to understand the purpose of the substance, how to use it safely, and the signs of diphenhydramine addiction.

What Is Benadryl Used For?

Recommended doses for children and adults indicate that those over the age of 12 should take one to two 25 mg tablets every four to six hours to relieve symptoms or as otherwise directed by a certified medical expert. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 can take one tablet every four to six hours. It is not advised for children younger than this to take this medication.


Antihistamines are used to relieve symptoms of allergic reactions to things such as pollen, animal hair, or dust. Many people who suffer from hay fever rely on antihistamines, particularly in high pollen seasons. Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, counteract the body’s natural product, histamines. Histamines cause uncomfortable symptoms like itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, itchy nose or throat, runny nose, and breathing difficulties.

Motion Sickness

Antihistamines like Benadryl are used in treating motion sickness. They can help ease symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and hyperventilating. The drug interacts with neurotransmitters inhibiting the body’s response and, in turn, the distressing symptoms.

Sleep Aid

Sometimes Benadryl is prescribed as a short-term sleep aid. It works due to the drowsy side effects many people experience. It is recommended only to use it on occasion if you struggle to sleep because of itchy skin or a cold. It is not recommended to use this substance as a long-term insomnia treatment.

Common Cold

Benadryl is commonly used to relieve symptoms of a cold, such as coughing and throat itchiness. It is frequently found in the ingredients of night cold medicines.

Side Effects of Benadryl

Like most medications, Benadryl produces side effects even if taken in the recommended dose. These can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth, nose, and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Digestive issues
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

The effects peak around two hours after ingestion when the recommended dose is taken. The effects have usually subsided around four hours after use. However, the are still diphenhydramine metabolites in the body, so taking a second dose of Benadryl before the effects have worn off can be risky for the user.

Abusing Over-The-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl are very accessible, including for minors, and some people intentionally abuse the drug. There are some mild sedative effects, and in high doses, it can produce euphoric effects or feelings similar to intoxication. However, an amount higher than 25 mg can be severely dangerous and likely cause the user harm rather than euphoria.

It is common for users to mix Benadryl with alcohol, inducing some extremely toxic side effects. Mixing this substance with alcohol can result in breathing difficulties and respiratory failure, heart rhythm problems, and a lack of coordination. Combining alcohol with any other over-the-counter medication can produce dangerous side effects, but this combination can be fatal. If you are concerned that you or someone you love is experiencing a Benadryl addiction or is abusing antihistamines, help is available. You can reach out to us to seek professional medical advice today.

Signs of Benadryl Abuse

By nature, substance abuse can be very deceptive. It can be challenging to identify when somebody is living with an addiction. Some symptoms of Benadryl abuse may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Vivid or distressing dreams
  • Poor coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle lethargy
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal issues
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Benadryl Addiction

Substance abuse always brings risks for the user. However, it does not necessarily indicate that the individual is addicted to a substance. They may feel they can stop using whenever they choose to. Unfortunately, this behavior can rapidly turn into a fully-fledged addiction.

When you are addicted to a substance such as Benadryl, you can’t stop using it even when you want to. There are many short and long-term implications for individuals living with a diphenhydramine addiction.

Short-Term Health Impacts

Some of the short-term effects of a Benadryl addiction include:

  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Flushed skin
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blurred vision
  • Coordination issues
  • Problems urinating

Long-term Health Impacts

Without addiction treatment, side effects can increase. A long-standing or severe addiction to Benadryl can result in the following symptoms:

  • Deterioration of mental capacity
  • Heart function issues
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Sight problems
  • Shaking and twitching
  • Liver and kidney problems
  • Increased risk of dementia
  • Overdose

Like with other substances, quitting the drug “cold turkey” brings risks for the user, and it is highly recommended to reduce your dosage with the support of a medical expert.

Overdose Risk

Substance abuse of any kind risks overdose; diphenhydramine addiction is no different. Understanding Benadryl overdose symptoms is critical if you or someone you know uses this substance regularly in high doses. Here are some typical indicators:

  • Blurred vision
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Ringing ears
  • Seizure
  • Restlessness
  • Inability to urinate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Delirium
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Loss of coordination or inability to walk
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Getting Help for Substance Abuse

Substance addiction of any kind is a very challenging experience. It’s essential to understand the disease and how it manifests to manage it. Often substance abuse is a symptom of underlying mental health issues; these need to be tackled simultaneously with the addiction. People use drugs and alcohol for many different reasons; everyone can get through it to a better place with the right help and support.

The best kind of treatment places the individual at the center. Recognizing the uniqueness of the person and their addiction can help create an expertly tailored plan to encompass their needs and desires.

Although not limited to, it is common for Benadryl addiction to start in the teenage years. These challenging years can cause young people to experience depression, anxiety, and stress at extreme levels. Often substances feel like the only way to cope. Benadryl is an over-the-counter medication and can be accessed by those under eighteen, so it is common to find young people abusing diphenhydramine.

Treatment Options

It is essential to seek professional medical advice before attempting to stop using any substance. The support offered by compassionate and knowledgeable medics will ease any withdrawal symptoms and decrease the chances of relapse. If you or someone in your life is struggling with addiction, a comprehensive rehab program is the best place to turn.

Start Your Sober Journey Today

At Empowered Recovery, we know that every person, and their drug addiction, is unique. We offer a range of treatment options to suit your specific needs and hopes for your recovery journey. Our treatment modalities include:

  • Aversion Therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Complementary therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Trauma-focused therapy

We incorporate short and long-term goals to keep you on the right track for a happy life of sobriety. Our treatment facilities allow you to recover in a comfortable and safe environment, so your entire focus is on regaining your health.

If you are ready to take a step forwards into health and seek treatment, we are here to guide you along the way. Get in touch with us to discuss addiction treatment options, and let us answer any questions you might have.

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    Marietta, GA 30066

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