Benadryl Withdrawal Symptoms

Cirque Lodge > Blog > Addiction > Benadryl Withdrawal Symptoms

Many people think of Benadryl as a benign over-the-counter medication that can relieve allergy symptoms and allow you to sleep. They are unlikely to view it as a drug that gets you high, can get you addicted, and even comes with withdrawal symptoms when discontinued.

This is an unfortunate case, and large numbers of people each year realize that taking Benadryl regularly to get high can cause negatively impact their life. In this article, we look at what it is meant to be used for, why people use it to get high, withdrawal symptoms, and Benadryl's interaction with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl is the brand name for an antihistamine called diphenhydramine. It is used to relieve symptoms of hay fever, allergies, the common cold, and insomnia. It works by blocking histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic reactions. Benadryl is available over-the-counter (without a prescription) and in generic form.

Benadryl as a Sleep Aid

Benadryl is an antihistamine that is often used as a sleep aid due to its sedating properties. It is generally considered safe when taken as directed, but there are some potential side effects to be aware of. These include dry mouth, dizziness, and constipation. If you have any concerns about taking Benadryl, please speak to your doctor.

Why do People Use Benadryl to get High?

Diphenhydramine interacts with the brain and causes feelings of relaxation and drowsiness. It can also cause hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. People who abuse Benadryl often take large doses of the drug or take it in a way other than directed on the package.

Diphenhydramine Overdose Symptoms

Overdose symptoms from diphenhydramine can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Slurred speech
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Urinary retention
  • Blurred vision

Overdose symptoms can be dangerous and require immediate medical attention. If you or someone you know has overdosed on diphenhydramine, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Can Benadryl Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Yes, Benadryl can indeed cause withdrawal symptoms, but this typically happens in cases where the drug has been used frequently and in large doses, far beyond the recommended limits for allergy treatment or occasional sleeplessness. Regular, excessive use of Benadryl can lead to both physical and psychological dependence, creating a situation where the body and mind come to rely on the presence of the drug. When the drug is abruptly stopped, the body reacts. Symptoms of Benadryl withdrawal can include anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, agitation, nervousness, sweating, and confusion. Length and severity of these symptoms can differ according to the extent of the abuse and the individual's overall health. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms after discontinuing the use of Benadryl, it is essential to seek medical attention, as professional help can make Benadryl withdrawal symptoms safer and more comfortable.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) Withdrawal Symptoms

When taken as directed, occasional use of Benadryl is not likely to cause withdrawal symptoms. However, people who abuse the drug by taking high doses may experience uncomfortable antihistamine withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. These can include:

Anxiety

Antihistamine withdrawal can cause someone to experience anxiety. This anxiety may be subtle or it can be profound. This depends on how much Benadryl the person was taking, and whether they have any underlying anxiety problems

Insomnia

One of the most common antihistamine withdrawal symptoms from Benadryl is insomnia. This is because Benadryl is often used as a sleep aid. When someone stops taking Benadryl, they may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

Insomnia is more likely to occur if the Benadryl user was also abusing other drugs at the same time. If someone was also taking drugs like Xanax or Valium, or abusing alcohol, then they are far more likely to experience insomnia. They are also more likely to have insomnia after they stop taking Benadryl if they were taking it to sleep initially. If this is the case, they must deal with the symptoms of Benadryl withdrawal and also grapple with their original sleeplessness.

Dizziness

Dizziness is a common side effect of Benadryl, and it can also be an antihistamine withdrawal symptom. When someone stops taking Benadryl, they may feel dizzy or lightheaded. This can make it difficult to stand up or walk around.

Headaches

Headaches are another common side effect of Benadryl. They can also occur as a withdrawal symptom, especially if the person was taking high doses of the drug.

Agitation

Agitation is a feeling of restlessness or nervousness. It is common in people who are withdrawing from Benadryl. The person may feel like they can't sit still or be around others.

Nervousness

Nervousness is similar to agitation, but it is often milder. The person may feel tense or jittery.

Sweating

Sweating is a common side effect of Benadryl, but it can also be a withdrawal symptom. The person may feel sweaty or clammy.

Confusion

Confusion can happen during Benadryl withdrawal, especially in older adults. The person may feel disoriented or have trouble thinking clearly.

These withdrawal symptoms are generally mild and go away within a few days. However, in some cases, they can be severe and last for weeks or longer. If you experience withdrawal symptoms that last for a long period of time, it is important to seek medical help. Often, people experience withdrawal symptoms and then relapse. Help is available to prevent you from doing this.

How Long Do Benadryl Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

When answering the question, how long do Benadryl withdrawal symptoms last? We need to consider that each individual experience is different.  The duration of Benadryl withdrawal symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, depending largely on the individual's level of use and overall health. Generally, symptoms might start to appear within a few hours to a day after the last dose and can linger in the body anywhere from several days to a few weeks. Mild withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, nervousness, and agitation usually resolve within a few days. More severe withdrawal symptoms, like intense anxiety or insomnia, may take a week or two to diminish. In rare cases, especially with prolonged and heavy abuse, withdrawal symptoms might persist for several weeks or even months. This variability emphasizes the importance of seeking medical help when attempting to discontinue Benadryl after heavy use. Professional guidance can provide an individualized approach to managing Benadryl withdrawal symptoms effectively and comfortably. Additionally, medical supervision can help prevent a relapse, which often occurs when individuals attempt to self-manage withdrawal symptoms from Benadryl.

Timeline for Benadryl Withdrawal Symptoms

The timeline for Benadryl withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly based on the individual's usage history, their dose, their overall health, and their unique physiological response to discontinuation. However, a general timeline might look like this:

24-48 hours: Initial withdrawal from Benadryl symptoms may start to appear within the first day or two after the last dose. These early symptoms often include anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and insomnia.

3-7 days: During the first week, the intensity of withdrawal symptoms typically peaks. Individuals may experience more pronounced anxiety, insomnia, and other physical symptoms such as sweating, headaches, and dizziness.

1-2 weeks: As the body starts to adjust to the absence of the drug, the symptoms usually start to subside. However, insomnia and anxiety can still persist in this period.

Beyond 2 weeks: Most physical Benadryl addiction withdrawal symptoms should have subsided by this point. However, psychological symptoms, especially cravings for Benadryl, can still persist. This is a crucial time for continued support and therapy to avoid relapse.

This is a general guideline, and individual experiences can vary widely. A healthcare provider or addiction specialist should be consulted to help manage Benadryl withdrawal symptoms and provide appropriate support during withdrawal.

Reducing Diphenhydramine Withdrawal Symptoms

There are a few things that can be done to help reduce diphenhydramine withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • Gradually reducing the dose of diphenhydramine over time.
  • Taking a break from diphenhydramine every few days to allow the body to recover.
  • Avoiding other medications that can interact with diphenhydramine, such as SSRIs.
  • Staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest.

If someone is experiencing severe or persistent withdrawal symptoms, they should speak to a doctor. They may need to be treated for their drug abuse with medication or therapy at an addiction treatment center.

Benadryl Interaction with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Some people take Benadryl to relieve the side effects of SSRIs. This can be dangerous because diphenhydramine can increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Too much serotonin can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Shivering
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you or someone you know is taking Benadryl and an SSRI and experiences these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help immediately.

Dangers of Using Benadryl to Get High

Benadryl is a drug that is meant to relieve allergy and cold symptoms and help people sleep. However, some people abuse Benadryl by taking high doses of the drug in order to get high. This can be extremely dangerous, as it can lead to addiction and even death. When people abuse Benadryl, they are putting themselves at risk for a number of serious side effects.

It is dangerous to combine Benadryl with alcohol abuse. Alcohol increases the effects of diphenhydramine, which can lead to drowsiness, impaired motor skills, and confusion. Mixing the two can also cause a dangerous decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, when you abuse diphenhydramine and alcohol together, it can lead to dehydration and dry mouth.

Understanding Diphenhydramine Dependence

While most people might not perceive the habit of frequently using Benadryl as a potential drug addiction, dependency can develop. Dependency on this substance is especially likely in cases where the drug is habitually abused for its sleep-inducing effects or to achieve a state of relaxation or hallucination.

Individuals who take high doses regularly may notice that they need to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects, a phenomenon known as tolerance. As time goes on, the body becomes accustomed to the high levels of the substance, leading to physical dependence. Once physical dependence sets in, discontinuing the drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

The nature of diphenhydramine dependence can be both psychological and physiological. The psychological aspect involves the compulsion to take the drug to escape reality, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, while the physiological aspect includes the physical symptoms of withdrawal experienced when attempting to stop use.

Long-term Effects of Diphenhydramine Abuse

Abusing Benadryl over a long period can have severe health consequences. Some of these long-term effects may include heart problems, gastrointestinal issues, cognitive decline, memory loss, and potentially even dementia.

An individual's mental health can also be severely affected by the long-term abuse of Benadryl, leading to chronic depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. These conditions may further exacerbate the cycle of addiction, as the individual might take more of the drug to cope with these mental health issues.

Treating Diphenhydramine Addiction

Treating diphenhydramine addiction involves multiple stages, from detoxification to rehabilitation and recovery. The process usually begins with a medical detox to help manage the withdrawal symptoms. In some severe cases, medications may be used to ease these symptoms and reduce cravings.

Following detox, a comprehensive treatment plan will involve individual and group therapy, psychoeducation, and relapse prevention techniques. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful in helping individuals recognize and change patterns of thought and behavior leading to drug use.

Aftercare and relapse prevention are crucial parts of the treatment process. They can include ongoing counseling, support groups, and other recovery resources. The goal is to help individuals build a life that doesn't revolve around drug use, learn how to manage stress and other triggers without turning to substances and build a strong support network.

Do not Engage in Diphenhydramine Abuse: Get Help at Cirque Lodge

Benadryl is a drug that can be used for legitimate purposes but also has the potential to be abused. People who engage in chronic diphenhydramine abuse risk a host of physical and mental problems, addiction, withdrawal, and diphenhydramine overdose. This over-the-counter medication should only be used as directed by a medical professional. Drug abuse can kill.

If you have diphenhydramine dependence, it is time to get treatment at a drug addiction treatment center. Cirque Lodge has helped countless people on the road to recovery after they experienced an addiction to Benadryl.

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