Can You Get Addicted to Benadryl?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

April 25, 2023

Table of Contents

Many people who use Benadryl as a treatment for allergies wonder, “can you get addicted to Benadryl?”.

While Benadryl addiction is not common, it can occur. With prolonged, frequent use Benadryl can become physically and psychologically addictive.

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As a nation, we recognize many substances as addictive. The average consumer knows that ADD medication can be addictive, many anti-depressants and of course illicit drugs, can all become quickly addictive. However, many people do not realize that Benadryl can be addictive because of the ingredient Diphenhydramine.

When it comes to over–the–counter medicines many people have an unrealistic idea that these medicines are “safe.” Of course, knowledge is power, and the idea that something is “safe” can be quite dangerous if used in ways other than prescribed. This is the case when it pertains to Benadryl.

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Can You Be Addicted to Benadryl?

The short answer here is, yes you absolutely can become addicted to Benadryl. Diphenhydramine is the main ingredient in Benadryl and has been shown to be addictive. 

Diphenhydramine is used to treat allergies and even some of the most severe allergic reactions. While Benadryl and diphenhydramine, in particular, both have specific necessary functions that

can in fact save lives, these two ingredients can both easily become an addictive substance.

Is It Okay to Take Benadryl Every Night?

While Benadryl is helpful for occasional use, it is not safe to take every night. You will build up a dependence to the drug, causing your body to become physically reliant on the substance. At this point, you will go into withdrawals if you discontinue nightly use. 

Benadryl, whose main ingredient is diphenhydramine, is easily one of the most abused over–the–counter medications on the market. Benadryl comes in liquid, tablet, or capsule form.  

It is easily accessible by people of all ages across the country, as it can be found just about anywhere!  Benadryl’s main purpose is to act as an antihistamine, but it has been adapted by the public to be used for various other things, most notably as a sleep aid.

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How Addictive is Benadryl? 

While Benadryl has a very specific purpose, it is often overused and therefore, can easily become abused. Since it is so easily accessible, it quickly can become a crutch and addictive to those who use it for sleep or its sedative properties, instead of just for an allergic reaction.

In many states, people need to be over the age of 18 to purchase Benadryl, but in others, legislators are late to enact measures keeping teens and younger people from abusing this medication.

Benadryl, in addition to being used for allergies, can be used for the treatment of the common cold, Parkinson’s disease, and other movement disorders. Benadryl can become especially menacing when it is used for its sedative properties.  

People will tend to take Benadryl as a nightly sleep aid, not realizing that this can turn into a full-blown addiction. It’s surely not recommended to take Benadryl nightly. 

What to Do If You Think You’re Addicted to Benadryl

Benadryl withdrawal symptoms will likely start 48 hours after stopping the medication. The withdrawals will peak between 3 – 5 days and subside at about 7 days.  While withdrawals from Benadryl will likely not be as severe as the withdrawals from opioids, nonetheless, they can be quite uncomfortable.

Withdrawal side effects from Benadryl include dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, sweating and confusion. Everyone will have a different experience in their withdrawal from Benadryl depending on the amount and length of usage.  

Many are surprised to hear that Benadryl can be so addictive.  As a consumer in this day and age, it is so important to realize the potential risks of even the most seemingly benign over – the–counter medications. While a given medication can serve a purpose, at the same time it can have negative effects too. 

If you think you are addicted to Benadryl, reach out and ask for help. The addiction risk surrounding Benadryl may seem unreal to many as it is such a commonly seen medication – but science tells us otherwise! Benadryl addiction is real and much more common than we may think. Like any addiction, it is progressive, and a higher and higher dose will be needed to have its effect.  

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Addiction Treatment at Renaissance Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling from withdrawals or addiction, Renaissance Recovery can help. 

We understand that everyone has individual needs when it comes to recovery and that there is no one size fits all. You or your loved one will work closely with our team of expert clinicians and therapists to design the right treatment plan for you. 

We can offer alternate solutions to Benadryl for help sleeping, help ease your detox withdrawal symptoms, and more. Whether it’s inpatient or outpatient, our recovery community has got you covered.

We know how hard it can be to struggle with addiction of any kind, you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore.  

Reach out to us today at 866.330.9449  to let us help you break free of the chains of addiction.



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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