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Is Benadryl Addictive?

Some people may assume that it’s impossible to become addicted to over-the-counter drugs, including Benadryl. But Benadryl is actually one of the most addictive OTC drugs available. Its active ingredient, diphenhydramine, has the potential to cause physical and psychological addiction. If people develop Benadryl addiction, they may find it very difficult to stop taking this drug without professional help.

Learn more about Benadryl addiction and find support or treatment by calling the Mandala Healing Center specialists now. Our holistic approach to substance use disorder treatment empowers people on their recovery journey. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an intake assessment.

What is Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)?

Benadryl is the brand name for diphenhydramine, an over-the-counter antihistamine medication. The drug works by counteracting the effects of histamines, a chemical the body produces when exposed to irritants or allergens. Histamines cause discomfort in the form of itching, runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. Benadryl reduces the severity of these symptoms and can help people stay more comfortable when they have a cold or allergies.

Benadryl can also be used to reduce the sensations of motion sickness, to treat some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, or to induce sleep.

Understanding the Effects and Risks of Benadryl

Like all medications, Benadryl has side effects and risks. Many of the effects and risks of Benadryl are more likely among those who misuse it by taking higher or more frequent doses than recommended. 

Some of the physical side effects of Benadryl include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Problems with urination
  • Impaired memory
  • Itchy skin
  • Restlessness
  • Chest tightening
  • Weakness
  • Poor coordination
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Increased heart rate

Benadryl use and abuse can cause psychological side effects, including:

  • Impaired memory
  • Poor concentration
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about alternatives to Benadryl. If you have a hard time stopping taking Benadryl, consult a medical or mental health professional. 

Symptoms of Benadryl Addiction

Some people may misuse Benadryl for its sedative effects. People who struggle to fall asleep may take this medication to help them get the sleep they need–but this is a dangerous practice. Benadryl addiction can develop if someone takes more of this drug than they should or takes it for longer periods than advised. People who take Benadryl for long periods may develop tolerance and dependence, which are signs of addiction.

Here are some other common signs of Benadryl addiction:

  • Not being able to fall asleep without taking Benadryl
  • Anxiety if you can’t take Benadryl or must skip a dose for some reason
  • Needing Benadryl to function normally
  • Developing tolerance, meaning you need to take higher or more frequent doses to get the desired effects of the medication
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take Benadryl
  • Wanting to stop taking Benadryl but finding that you can’t
  • Losing the ability to concentrate on an activity or complete simple tasks
  • Feeling like your body is weak
  • Experiencing mood swings
  • Having frequent nightmares
  • Developing low blood pressure
  • Shivering or feeling chilled
  • Experiencing symptoms of depression
  • Mixing Benadryl with alcohol to enhance the effects

Exhibiting these signs may indicate an addiction to Benadryl. Benadryl addiction can impair your judgment and lead to mental and physical harm. Seek treatment for Benadryl addiction as soon as you recognize a problem to avoid the worsening consequences of substance abuse. 

Who is Most At Risk for Benadryl Addiction?

People with many medical and mental health conditions may use Benadryl to manage their symptoms. People who use it frequently are more likely to develop physical and psychological addiction to this medication.

People who have insomnia–the inability to fall or stay asleep for long periods–are at increased risk of developing Benadryl addiction if they take this medication every night. People who struggle with sleep problems must find alternative solutions to their insomnia to avoid developing an addiction to Benadryl or other sleep aids.

Those with Parkinson’s disease are also at risk for Benadryl addiction if they take this medication frequently. Some people with Parkinson’s disease may take it to reduce tremors and muscle spasms, but taking it for long periods can lead to physical dependence and increased risk for complications.

People with anxiety may take Benadryl to manage symptoms of this condition. Benadryl’s sedative effects can reduce anxiety and promote a feeling of relaxation, but relying on this drug alone can lead to addiction.

Finally, people with schizophrenia are at increased risk for developing Benadryl addiction if they use it to reduce the side effects of their antipsychotic drugs.

Generally, medical professionals advise people to take Benadryl for short periods and only as needed. Taking it every day–or multiple times per day–may increase a person’s risk of developing physical and psychological dependence on it. 

Find Support Now

If you or someone you love struggles with Benadryl abuse or addiction, you are not alone. Learn more about the risks of this over-the-counter medication and find the treatment you need to overcome Benadryl addiction by contacting the Mandala Healing Center specialists now.