While Benadryl is an over-the-counter drug, it can still be addictive. It is made out of an ingredient known as diphenhydramine. Normally, this medication is used for allergies, insomnia, and nausea. People often take Benadryl for colds and other viral illnesses.
Benadryl should never be used for a long period of time. If you take it on a regular basis, it can end up becoming addictive. Other than being addictive, there are serious side effects associated with using Benadryl for extended lengths of time.
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What Is Benadryl?
Benadryl is an antihistamine. This means that it is designed to stop histamine from causing a reaction in your body. Normally, histamine is created when you experience an allergic reaction. Because of its status as an antihistamine, Benadryl can be used to treat a range of allergy symptoms, like watery eyes, coughing, and a runny nose. Benadryl is also used to treat vomiting, dizziness, and nausea.
One of Benadryl’s side effects is drowsiness. This is the reason why many people use Benadryl when they are suffering from insomnia. However, it is important to exercise caution if you are driving or operating heavy machinery.
According to Yale Medicine, an addiction is classified as a brain disease. Unfortunately, this means you cannot simply stop an addiction by improving your willpower or trying to exercise more control. An addiction starts when the pleasure circuits in your mind are overwhelmed by inputs.
The reward system is a primitive part of the brain. Originally, it developed in animals as a way to encourage us to do activities that keep us alive. For example, eating food causes dopamine to be released in the brain.
Unfortunately, drugs can cause a flood of dopamine to be released in your mind. This excessive level of dopamine is up to 10 times higher than the amount of dopamine you would receive from a natural reward. Your brain was designed to remember pleasurable rewards, so it will quickly associate this boost of pleasure with the addictive drug.
If you keep using the drug, your mind will begin to adapt over time. As the brain’s circuitry adapts, it will require more of the same drug to reach the same level of pleasure. If you suddenly stop taking the drug, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. At this point, you have officially developed a tolerance and addiction to the drug. Depending on the substance involved, you may want to get professional help from a rehab center so that you can safely stop using drugs and become sober.
Benadryl’s Addiction Potential
Like many drugs, Benadryl can be addictive if you do not follow the directions on the label. In one notable case study, a young man showed up at an emergency room with a rapid heart rate, sweating, seizures, and tremors. He had a history of hospitalizations for overdosing on diphenhydramine, which is the active ingredient in Benadryl. Because of this, he was treated for withdrawal syndrome.
While this is an extreme case, it illustrates Benadryl’s addiction potential. If you take it over an extended period of time, you can develop a tolerance. When you try to stop using the drug, you may experience mild to severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Signs of Misuse and Abuse
When you take more Benadryl than you are supposed to, it can lead to a range of different problems. Dependence on Benadryl can interfere with your brain functions and sleep quality. Depending on the length and severity of the addiction, loved ones may notice some or all of the following signs of misuse and abuse.
- Feeling down: If someone has a dependence on Benadryl, their body needs this drug to feel normal. It makes them feel a sense of euphoria and relaxation. When they suddenly stop using Benadryl, they may seem down or listless.
- Heart problems: Heart problems can occur if someone takes more than the necessary dose.
- Seizures and coma: When people take a large dose of Benadryl, it can cause seizures and coma.
- Concentration issues: If you suddenly stop taking Benadryl, you may find it hard to focus on simple tasks.
- Inability to reduce consumption: Once you have developed a Benadryl addiction, you may struggle to decrease the amount you consume. If you try to take less Benadryl, you may suffer from serious withdrawal symptoms and end up using the drug again.
- Death: Benadryl is known to cause potentially fatal arrhythmias. Other side effects can also become fatal.
- Sleep issues: Many people use Benadryl to self-medicate for insomnia. If you use Benadryl for ongoing sleep problems, your body will become accustomed to having the drug present. When you suddenly stop using it, you may develop an inability to sleep at all.
- Anxiety: If someone misses a dose of Benadryl, they may become anxious or agitated.
Dangers and Side Effects of Benadryl Misuse
When someone misuses Benadryl, they are more likely to experience side effects. In some cases, Benadryl misuse can lead to life-threatening complications. Because of this, it is important to seek immediate medical care if you or a loved one are going through serious side effects. The following list includes some of the most common symptoms of Benadryl misuse.
- Dry mouth
- Poor coordination
- Body weakness
- Blurred vision
- Itchy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Memory impairment
- Difficulty concentrating
- Liver and kidney damage
- Increased heart rate
- Mood swings
Treatment and Recovery
While dealing with an addiction can be difficult, you do not have to seek treatment alone. There are many rehab centers that can help with substance use disorders. At Live Free Recovery Services, we can help with a variety of alcohol and drug addictions.
For many people, detox is the first stage of treatment. During detox, clients get around-the-clock supervision and medical support. Some drugs can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, so it is important to only go through detox with professional help.
While most rehab programs last for 30 to 90 days, detox is generally just a small portion of this time. In most cases, the detox phase finishes after just one or two weeks. Afterward, clients can begin the rest of their rehab program.
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
At Live Free Recovery Services, clients can choose an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. Inpatient programs involve staying at the rehab during the day and night. This gives clients extra supervision and support, which makes it harder to relapse.
Meanwhile, outpatient programs generally involve going to the treatment center for a few hours each day. Afterward, you can go home to take care of your family or complete tasks for work. Because they involve less supervision, outpatient programs are better suited for people who have a mild or moderate substance use disorder.
Live Free Recovery Services is unique because we also offer an intensive outpatient program as well as a partial hospitalization program. These two programs are designed to provide a heightened level of care in an outpatient environment. When you first arrive at the treatment center, an addiction specialist can help you determine which program is right for your needs.
Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders
Co-occurring disorders are medical conditions that exist alongside your substance use disorder. For example, some people suffer from depression or insomnia. When you receive treatment for your substance use disorder, you should also receive support for co-occurring disorders.
Often, people will self-medicate with drugs to treat these co-occurring disorders. In some cases, self-medication may be the reason why their addiction first developed. For example, some people like to take Benadryl for insomnia. Over time, self-medicating for insomnia can lead to an addiction.
After you treat a Benadryl addiction, the underlying disorders will still remain. If you do not treat insomnia or other co-occurring disorders, you may be tempted to relapse later on. Because of this, the best rehab centers will treat substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders at the same time.
Discover a Healthier Lifestyle
While Benadryl is an over-the-counter drug, it can still be potentially addictive. If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder, Life Free Recovery Services can help. To discover the first step in your recovery journey, reach out to us today.
Published on: 2024-01-30
Updated on: 2024-01-30