Benadryl and Alcohol

Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

April 4, 2023

Table of Contents

The antihistamine Benadryl and alcohol can be problematic when mixed. It can even lead to addiction problems and dangerous side effects that may require the help of an alcohol and prescription drug rehab.

Benadryl is a branded version of diphenhydramine, an antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms, including: 

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  • Coughs
  • Irritated eyes, nose, and throat
  • Rashes

Benadryl and alcohol are both CNS depressants. While taking Benadryl in isolation does not directly impact your liver, taking Benadryl with alcohol can produce more intense side effects, sometimes even provoking dangerous outcomes.

Mixing Benadryl and Alcohol

Benadryl and alcohol both act on your central nervous system. The CNS consists of your brain and your spinal cord. 

As CNS depressants, both of these substances serve to slow down your central nervous system. Taking in combination, the CNS can slow too much, triggering any or all of the following: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Problems with concentration
  • Difficulty with physical tasks

In short, you should not use alcohol and Benadryl together. Mixing these substances is anyway inadvisable, but can be especially dangerous in the following circumstances: 

  • For seniors
  • If you mix these two substances while driving

Can You Mix Benadryl and Alcohol?

The risks associated with combining Benadryl and alcohol are not universal and do not apply to all scenarios. It is perfectly possible that drinking a small amount of alcohol at the same time as taking diphenhydramine in a safe setting will be harmless. 

It is medically advisable, though, to abstain from alcohol completely while taking this medication. 

If you are considering the simultaneous use of these CNS depressants, make sure you do not engage in any tasks calling for mental alertness. Under no circumstances operate vehicles or machinery while mixing diphenhydramine and alcohol either. 

For anyone intending to take Benadryl to reduce allergy symptoms, it is worth consulting your healthcare provider. Variables like your age and any other medications you are taking can intensify the likelihood of adverse outcomes when mixing Benadryl with other substances. 

If you or a loved one unintentionally mixes diphenhydramine and alcohol, rest in a safe environment should restore balance.

Benadryl and Alcohol In Seniors

Benadryl and alcohol effects, risks, and side effects can be more intense in the over-65s. 

Combining these substances can create problems with motor skills in seniors due to the dizziness and sedation precipitated by mixing alcohol and diphenhydramine. This heightens the risk of falls, especially problematic for the elderly. 

Seniors taking diphenhydramine should always check the alcohol content of all medications they are taking. Some cough syrups, for instance, have 10% alcohol content. These can trigger negative effects when paired with diphenhydramine. 

Both excessive alcohol intake and regularly taking anticholinergics like Benadryl can heighten the risk for dementia. However, more research is needed in this area.

Can you OD on Benadryl and alcohol, then?

Can You Overdose on Benadryl and Alcohol?

While it is possible to overdose on alcohol and Benadryl, this would likely require ingesting large doses of both substances. 

Benadryl and alcohol death is the most severe consequence of overdosing on diphenhydramine and alcohol. 

So, even though diphenhydramine is routinely used and readily available, the dangers of combining it with alcohol can potentially be deadly.

Benadryl and Alcohol Interaction

The side effects of mixing alcohol and diphenhydramine can be severe, mainly because both substances depress the functionality of your central nervous system. When this happens, it slows essential functions like respiration. Pairing alcohol and Benadryl can lead to extreme sedation of your CNS. 

Additionally, the combination of these substances can both dehydrate your body. When you mix these substances, this heightens your risk of dehydration. Not only can this cause discomfort at the time, but it can also inflame any hangover you experience the following day. 

Alcohol and diphenhydramine can both cause sedation and drowsiness, so you may be tempted to exploit these properties as a sleep aid. This is inadvisable and can bring about adverse side effects detrimental to sleep, including dizziness and nausea.

Substance Abuse Treatment at Renaissance Recovery

Maybe you need to take an antihistamine like Benadryl, suddenly you realize you cannot control your alcohol intake as easily as you imagined. If so, you could benefit from our research-based and outpatient programs for alcohol use disorder here at Renaissance Recovery. 

Our addiction treatment programs can help with all the following: 

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Mental health disorder
  • Co-occurring disorders

In addition to regular outpatient programs offering weekly therapy, we also provide more intensive forms of treatment. Our IOP (intensive outpatient program) is a part-time outpatient program with up to 15 hours of weekly treatment, while our full-time PHP (partial hospitalization program) is the most intensive form of outpatient treatment. 

Our treatment team will help you reclaim your life from substance abuse or mental health disorders through a personalized array of MAT (medication-assisted treatment), talk therapy, counseling, and holistic rehab.

To kickstart your recovery at , reach out to the friendly team at 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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