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Benadryl Abuse Trends: The Dangers of Misusing a Common Over-the-Counter Drug

Benadryl the common over the counter antihistamine has recently seen an alarming uptick in recreational abuse especially among teens and young adults

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Benadryl, the common over-the-counter antihistamine, has recently seen an alarming uptick in recreational abuse, especially among teens and young adults. The COVID-19 pandemic fueled this dangerous trend, as young people cooped up at home seek new ways to experiment. However, using Benadryl to get high comes with serious risks.

What is Benadryl?

Diphenhydramine, sold under the brand name Benadryl, is an antihistamine used to relieve symptoms of allergies, hay fever, and the common cold. It works by blocking histamine, a substance produced by the immune system during allergic reactions. Benadryl also has sedative effects due to its actions on acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain.

Diphenhydramine sold under the brand name Benadryl is an antihistamine used to relieve symptoms of allergies hay fever and the common cold
Diphenhydramine sold under the brand name Benadryl is an antihistamine used to relieve symptoms of allergies hay fever and the common cold

When taken as directed, Benadryl is a safe and effective medication. However, exceeding the recommended dose can lead to dangerous side effects and addiction.

Effects and Dangers of Benadryl Abuse

Taking large doses of Benadryl causes effects such as euphoria, hallucinations, and out-of-body sensations. But it also comes with a host of adverse effects:

  • Drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • Impaired cognition and memory
  • Delirium, psychosis, seizures

At very high doses, Benadryl toxicity can be life-threatening, potentially causing heart arrhythmias, kidney failure, coma, and even death. Chronic misuse may lead to physical dependence and addiction–even early onset dementia.

Why Benadryl Appeals to Teens

There are several reasons why Benadryl has become a drug of choice for many young people:

  • It’s cheap and accessible. Benadryl is inexpensive and sold over-the-counter at most drugstores and supermarkets.
  • It’s legal and perceived as “safe.” Many teens assume legal drugs are less harmful than illegal ones. The fact that Benadryl has legitimate medical uses makes it seem safer to abuse.
  • It can cause hallucinations. At high doses, the drug can induce vivid hallucinations and a feeling of dissociation from one’s body. Teens may find this psychoactive “trip” appealing.
  • It’s popularized on social media. The “Benadryl Challenge” and similar online trends have glorified the practice of getting high on the drug.
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Taking large doses of Benadryl causes effects such as euphoria hallucinations and out of body sensations
Taking large doses of Benadryl causes effects such as euphoria hallucinations and out of body sensations

Signs of Benadryl Addiction

If someone is abusing Benadryl, you may notice:

  • Regularly taking large amounts of the drug
  • Needing increasingly higher doses to feel effects
  • Spending excessive time and money obtaining the drug
  • Neglecting responsibilities due to Benadryl use
  • Continuing use despite negative consequences
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

Getting Help for a Benadryl Addiction

Destination Hope’s compassionate addiction specialists are ready to help those struggling with Benadryl abuse. Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, our state-of-the-art treatment center offers medically-supervised detox, individualized counseling, and holistic therapies to support lasting recovery.

If you or a loved one is battling a Benadryl addiction, don’t wait another day. Call Destination Hope at 888-989-1479 to start your journey toward healing. Our caring team is available 24/7 to answer your questions and get you the support you need.

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