Potential Consequences of Abusing Your Allergy Medication
When the subject of substance abuse arises, there’s a good chance that you think of things like alcohol or opioids. This makes sense. After all, millions of people nationwide are affected by problems related to these addictive substances. However, other, less well-known forms of abuse can also occur. One of these lesser-known problems is abuse of the medication Benadryl, or diphenhydramine.
Benadryl abuse can have some very serious consequences. This is true if you only misuse your medication occasionally. It is also true if you become involved in chronic or ongoing misuse. For these reasons, it is important to understand exactly what constitutes Benadryl abuse. It is also important to understand how your health can be negatively affected by this problem.
What Is Benadryl or Diphenhydramine?
Benadryl is a brand-name form of the medication diphenhydramine. You can purchase this medication over-the-counter, or OTC, without a doctor’s prescription. One of the main uses of Benadryl is as a treatment for symptoms such as:
- Eye redness, itchiness or irritation
- Watery eyes
- Excessive mucus production
You may develop these symptoms if you have a cold or suffer from allergies or hay fever. In addition, the medication is often used in topical form as a treatment for itchy skin.
Diphenhydramine also has some less common uses. Examples of these potential uses include:
- Treating or preventing the symptoms of motion sickness
- Relief of certain kinds of coughs
- Easing the effects of insomnia
In addition, the medication is sometimes used to treat the early effects of Parkinsonism.
Benadryl does not cure any of these conditions. It also does not shorten their duration. Instead, the medication only provides symptom relief. Diphenhydramine products come in multiple forms, including:
- Rapid-dissolve tablets
- Standard capsules
- Topical creams, gels and sprays
The medication is also available in dissolving strips.
The Effects of Benadryl
How are the effects of Benadryl produced? The medication is classified as an antihistamine. All antihistamines work in the same basic way. Specifically, they block the actions of a chemical in your body called histamine. This chemical helps fluid move from your body’s smallest blood vessels into nearby tissue. In doing so, it triggers tissue swelling or inflammation. Histamine also produces:
- Dilated or widened blood vessels
- Contraction of your lung and intestinal muscles
- Changes in your normal heartbeat
All of these actions are useful in certain situations. However, it is possible to have too much histamine in your system. For example, this can happen when your body responds to the presence of an allergen. The end result is allergy symptoms. By blocking histamine, Benadryl and other antihistamines stop this chain of events from occurring.
What Are the Side Effects of Benadryl?
Even when you use Benadryl as recommended, it can lead to the onset of a variety of side effects. Things you may experience include:
- Unusual sleepiness
- Dry tissues in your throat, nose and mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- A drop in your normal appetite
- Weakened muscles
- Feelings of unusual nervousness
- Congestion in your chest
These effects are often temporary and mild. However, they can also linger over time or take a severe form. If this happens, medical attention is required. In addition, some Benadryl side effects always require medical attention. Examples of these effects include pain when you urinate and other unusual problems with urination. They also include any changes in your normal vision.
Does Benadryl Get You High?
When taken in recommended amounts, Benadryl does not get you high like the typical addictive drug. However, if you exceed recommended doses of the medication, you may experience things such as:
- A mild version of the powerful form of pleasure known as euphoria
- Mood elevation
- A boost in your normal energy levels
Signs of Benadryl Misuse and Abuse
Benadryl abuse is also referred to as Benadryl misuse. How can you tell if you or your loved one are affected by this problem? Potential forms of medication misuse include:
- Taking more Benadryl than the manufacturer recommends
- Using Benadryl more often than recommended
- Consuming Benadryl solely for its desired recreational effects
- Creating new drug effects by combining Benadryl with other OTC medications
These actions may take place separately or in combination.
Can You Overdose From Benadryl?
If you take too much Benadryl, you can end up overdosing on the medication. All overdoses occur when a given substance overwhelms your body’s normal ability to function. Specific possible symptoms of a Benadryl overdose range in intensity from relatively mild to severe. They include things such as:
- A rapid heartbeat
- Mental disorientation
- Inability to urinate
- An unusually high body temperature
- Dilated pupils
- Heart irregularities
- A delirious mental state
- Unusually low blood pressure
- Involuntary muscle contraction
In extreme cases of overdose, you can go into a coma or die. You may need rapid medical attention to recover from a severe Benadryl overdose.
Can You Become Dependent on Benadryl?
It is possible to become physically dependent on Benadryl. How does this happen? When you only take the medication occasionally or in low doses, it temporarily alters the way your brain works. When you stop taking it, your brain function returns to normal.
However, your brain’s expectations change when you take Benadryl often enough and in high enough amounts. In these circumstances, it will start to treat the medication as a normal part of its environment. This switch in expectation is a classic indicator of physical dependence. Once you are dependent, you can go into withdrawal if you stop taking Benadryl. Withdrawal can also occur if you make significant and rapid cuts in your typical Benadryl use.
Does Benadryl Cause Withdrawal?
How can you tell if Benadryl withdrawal is occurring? Some of the potential symptoms of this condition are the same as those of Benadryl overdose. Symptoms of this type include a rapid heartbeat and dilated pupils. You may also experience other kinds of problems such as:
- High sweat output
- Excessive saliva production
- Loss of some of your facial expressiveness
- Unusually quiet, breathy or hoarse speech
- Slurred speech
Can You Get Addicted to Benadryl?
Withdrawal is not only a symptom of physical substance dependence. It is also a symptom of substance addiction. What distinguishes physical dependence from addiction? People affected by addiction are not just physically dependent. In addition, they:
- Become emotionally dependent on a given substance
- Start seeking out that substance in involuntary, compulsive ways
Can you get addicted to Benadryl? Potentially, yes you can. In addition to withdrawal, all it takes is one more symptom to meet the minimum threshold for diagnosing addiction. Examples of such additional possible symptoms include:
- Using Benadryl in greater amounts or more often than you intended
- Developing a strong urge for more Benadryl when you are not actively using it
- Centering your daily routine on using Benadryl or recovering from its aftereffects
- Not being able to stop using Benadryl after making multiple attempts
- Keeping up a level of Benadryl use that you know harms you physically or mentally
Seeking Treatment for Benadryl Abuse and Addiction
You may be able to halt a pattern of Benadryl abuse on your own. However, if you are dependent or addicted, this may not be the case. Instead, an effective recovery may require some kind of formal treatment.
Treatment typically involves slowly lowering your daily dose of Benadryl. This approach helps you avoid the full impact of withdrawal. Eventually, you will reach a state in which your system no longer contains any Benadryl. Some people receive a medication called clonidine to help control any withdrawal effects that do appear.
Turn to The Discovery House for Help with Benadryl Abuse
Benadryl is an over-the-counter medication available without a prescription. For this reason, you may think that it is always safe to use. However, in reality, you can abuse or misuse Benadryl. Some people do this as part of a desire to feel the medication’s pleasurable drug effects.
You can overdose on Benadryl even if you misuse it only once. The impact of such an overdose may be relatively minor. However, moderate and severe overdoses are also possible, and Benadryl-related deaths are known to occur.
If you repeatedly misuse the medication, your brain may come to rely on its presence. This reliant state is the hallmark of physical substance dependence. In a worst-case scenario, you can even potentially develop a Benadryl addiction. This occurs when physical dependence is accompanied by emotional dependence and compulsive medication-seeking behavior.
Comprehensive Client Care is the Mission of TDH
If you develop Benadryl dependence or addiction, professional treatment can help you recover. You can find this kind of treatment at The Discovery House. We specialize in recovery support for a wide range of addictive substances. That includes alcohol and street drugs. It also includes prescription and non-prescription medications.
At TDH, we take a holistic perspective on substance recovery. In line with this perspective, we treat you as a whole person, not just someone affected by addiction. Our customized, luxury approach helps make it easier to meet your personal treatment goals. For more information on our many recovery options, call us today.