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Can You Get Addicted to Benadryl?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

April 26, 2024

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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. It can also be exacerbated if you are mixing Benadryl and alcohol.

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If you or a loved one frequently take Benadryl, it’s important to understand that although small, there is a risk of it becoming an addiction. Most people understand that prescription drugs like ADD medication, anti-depressants, and illicit drugs can lead to addiction. However, it’s often overlooked that even over-the-counter drugs like Benadryl can become addictive because of the ingredient Diphenhydramine. 

While it’s true that most over-the-counter medications are mostly harmless, nothing is ever completely risk-free. It’s important to understand the side effects and dangers associated with these medications and to seek help for addiction or any other negative effects that these drugs may be causing you.

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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 withdrawal 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.

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.

People sometimes take it to treat insomnia and help them fall asleep. However, taking it in this manner can lead to both short-term and long-term problems.

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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 medication, not realizing that this can turn into a full-blown addiction. It’s surely not recommended to take Benadryl nightly. 

Addiction to Benadryl as a Sleep Aid

If you’ve been using Benadryl to help you sleep, you’re not alone. Many turn to this over-the-counter medication, drawn by its quick action in making you feel drowsy. However, if this has become a regular habit, it’s important to take a step back and understand that Benadryl can be addictive. Consider some of the less obvious effects this might be having on your health and daily life.

Firstly, you may have noticed that the same dose of Benadryl doesn’t seem to work as well as it did initially. This is a common sign of tolerance, a physical condition where your body becomes accustomed to a drug, and you need more of it to achieve the same effect. Are you using more of the drug than you previously did?

Escalating your dose can increase your risk of adverse effects, such as severe drowsiness during the day, confusion, and difficulty urinating, which could disrupt your daily life.

Moreover, you might feel like you can’t get a good night’s sleep without Benadryl. This dependence can be psychological as well as physical. If you find yourself unable to sleep without medication, or if you experience discomfort or anxiety when you try to skip it, these could be signs of withdrawal. Such symptoms indicate that it’s time to look for safer, more sustainable methods to manage your sleep issues.

These are some of the first signs that your Benadryl use may be getting out of hand. If you have been using this OTC drug to fight chronic insomnia, it is time to evaluate your use and look for other alternatives If you are dealing with an addiction, seek help before the problem becomes to severe.

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

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

Withdrawal symptoms of Benadryl abuse include dizziness, anxiety, blurred vision, motion sickness, insomnia, nausea, sweating, increased heart rate, 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.  

FAQs

Can you get addicted to diphenhydramine?

Although uncommon, diphenhydramine, found in products like Benadryl, can be addictive.

Is it safe to take Benadryl every night?

It is not recommended that you take Benadryl every night, as it can lead to tolerance, dependence, and other health problems.

Do people abuse Benadryl?

Some people abuse Benadryl for its sedative nature, however, this can have dangerous health effects and is not advised for recreational use.

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Addiction Treatment at Renaissance Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with 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 addiction and mental health treatment plan for you. 

We can offer alternate solutions to Benadryl for help sleeping, help ease your withdrawal symptoms, and more. Whether it’s inpatient or an intensive outpatient program, 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 our treatment programs today at 866.330.9449 to let us help you break free of the chains of addiction.

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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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