Benadryl is an over-the-counter drug used to treat allergic reactions and insomnia. Many people assume the medication is completely safe because it’s legal and easily accessible. When taken according to the instructions, it is safe to use. However, taking too much or trying to achieve a Benadryl high can transform this legal drug into a potentially deadly substance.

Some people become addicted to Benadryl because they take too much as they try to alleviate their symptoms. When smaller doses don’t work, they take increasingly larger amounts until they’re exceeding the recommended dosage. If they stop taking Benadryl, they experience withdrawal symptoms which leads them to resume the habit. Eventually, they have a full-blown addiction that requires intervention.

Others take Benadryl to experience the kind of high they get from illegal drugs. While they might enjoy the initial effects, taking too much Benadryl causes negative impacts. Repeatedly getting high leads to an addiction that could cost the individual their career, hobbies, savings and relationships with loved ones.

Benadryl’s accessibility and low cost make it one of the most popular addictive substances available. Fortunately, treatment programs tailored for nonprescription substances can help people push through withdrawal symptoms and overcome their dependency on the drug.

What Is Benadryl?

Benadryl is an antihistamine that treats allergy symptoms, such as coughing, itchy eyes, redness and a runny nose. People use it to treat the effects of seasonal allergies, colds, insect bites and hay fever. The instructions recommend taking small amounts every 4 to 6 hours. Going beyond the recommended dosage can cause serious side effects.

Benadryl works by targeting histamines. Coming in contact with an allergen triggers your immune system, which activates histamines to eliminate the threat. While they fight off the intruder, histamines cause allergic reactions, such as sneezing and inflammation. While histamines are designed to defend your body, they can produce unnecessary reactions if you’re allergic to a harmless substance.

When you take Benadryl, the antihistamine coats your body’s histamine receptors to block their reactions. This eases the symptoms, so you can resume your daily life. The medication typically kicks in within 20 to 30 minutes and works for up to 6 hours. Some people take Benadryl at night so that they can sleep through an allergic reaction.

Antihistamines are classified as either H-1 or H-2 blockers. Benadryl is a first-generation H-1 antihistamine and can cause fatigue and interactions with certain drugs. H-2 blockers are a more recent development that don’t cause drowsiness. Common H-2 antihistamine include Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec.

What Are the Side Effects?

When you use Benadryl as recommended, the effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness or fogginess
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth

Your age and weight can influence Benadryl’s effect on your system. In rare cases, users experience reactions that require medical attention, such as hallucinations, seizures, memory loss, allergic reactions and rapid heartbeat.

Although Benadryl is a nonprescription drug, you should discuss its use with a doctor if you’re taking other medications or have health issues. The medication may cause complications for individuals with asthma, emphysema, heart disease, liver disease, glaucoma, thyroid disease and high or low blood pressure.

Can Benadryl Get You High?

If you’re wondering “why does Benadryl make me feel high?”, consider the medication’s possible side effects. Intense drowsiness can produce a sedative-like effect. Users might also experience nausea, paranoia and memory loss while on an antihistamine high. Going over the recommended dosage can make it virtually impossible to function. People who enjoy the experience may take increasingly larger doses of the drug.

The following are signs you may be addicted to using Benadryl:

  • Continuing to take the medication after your allergy symptoms resolve
  • Feeling like you can’t function without the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms as the drug leaves your system
  • Being confused or unable to concentrate without the substance
  • Taking more than the recommended dosage
  • Using so much that friends and relatives start to notice
  • Spending excessive amounts of money on Benadryl

What Makes a Benadryl High Dangerous?

Taking too much Benadryl can be just as dangerous as abusing Xanax or alcohol. Poor functioning could lead to reckless behavior, such as driving while high, falling down stairs or taking even more hazardous substances. People have died from falling down while high and hitting their heads on a hard surface. Being high on Benadryl in public could result in aggressive behavior, confusion or anxiety that leads to dangerous situations.

Some individuals try to increase their high by taking Benadryl with other substances, such as alcohol, cocaine or prescription drugs, which could lead to a deadly overdose. Others take Benadryl with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The resulting chemical overload can cause serotonin syndrome, which is deadly if not treated. Signs of serotonin syndrome include agitation, loss of coordination, diarrhea, vomiting and shivering.

Once a Benadryl high ends, many people experience withdrawal symptoms. These can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations
  • Shaking

These symptoms are typically worse when you take larger amounts of Benadryl for a longer period of time. Someone who took it a few days could recover quickly. However, someone who abused Benadryl for months might experience severe symptoms that drag on for weeks.

Severe Benadryl withdrawal may become deadly when left untreated. Instead of trying to recover at home, those experiencing intense withdrawal should check into a clinic with 24-hour medical care. The staff may prescribe drugs to ease withdrawal symptoms and can act quickly in an emergency situation.

How Can You Seek Help?

It’s easy to dismiss nonprescription drug addiction because these aren’t “hard” substances like cocaine or heroin. However, Benadryl addiction can be just as harmful and often stems from the same underlying issues. Many addicts are trying to escape from trauma, abuse or mental illnesses. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that about 27 million Americans suffer from addiction.

At a certain point, abusing a drug is no longer about getting high. Individuals may want to quit, but they feel like they can’t live without the substance. Stopping their habit leads to intense withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to function. Fortunately, professional help is available if you’re in this situation.

If you’re abusing Benadryl or another substance, contact Sunlight Recovery today. We can create a personalized treatment plan to help you overcome your addiction and get your life back.