Combining Benadryl and Alcohol: Risks and Dangers

Benadryl and Alcohol

Combining medications with alcohol can have serious health consequences, and one such combination that poses significant risks is that of Benadryl and alcohol. Benadryl, also known by its generic name of diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine commonly used to relieve allergy symptoms. However, its sedative properties can be intensified when mixed with alcohol, leading to potential dangers and adverse effects.

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What Is Benadryl Used For?

Benadyl (Diphenhydramine) is an over-the-counter medication commonly used to relieve symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, and itching caused by allergies, hay fever, or the common cough or cold. Because of its sedative effects, Benadryl is also sometimes used for its sleep-inducing properties. It is also sometimes used to relieve symptoms of an overactive bladder.

Benadryl comes in different forms, including:

  • Tablets and liqui-gels
  • Cough syrups
  • Topical cream, gel or spray

This drug works by blocking histamine, a natural substance produced by the body during an allergic reaction. Histamine binds to receptors on cells, triggering various symptoms like inflammation, itching, and mucus production. Benadryl acts like a competitor, binding to the same receptors and preventing histamine from exerting its effects.

Is Benadryl Addictive?

Benadryl itself is not considered an addictive substance. However, some individuals may develop a psychological dependence on the sedative effects it produces. This can lead to a pattern of misuse or dependence on the medication, especially with long-term or frequent use. This means that the body can become dependent on the drug, making it difficult to stop taking it without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

It is essential to use Benadryl as directed by a doctor or pharmacist and to be aware of the potential risks associated with its misuse or overuse.

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Side Effects of Benadryl

Benadryl is generally safe when used as intended. However, like most medications, Benadryl can cause side effects in some people. While these side effects are generally mild, they can become more pronounced when combined with alcohol. Common side effects of Benadryl include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach

Less common side effects of using Benadryl include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Skin rashes
  • Ringing in the ears

Although rare, some people may also experience these severe side effects:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing

It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these serious side effects.

Long-Term Side Effects of Benadryl on the Brain

Using Benadryl in the long term may have negative effects on the brain. Studies suggest a possible link between long-term Benadryl use and an increased risk of dementia, particularly in older adults. Benadryl belongs to a class of drugs called anticholinergics, which can interfere with the brain chemical acetylcholine, which plays a role in memory and learning.

Long-term Benadryl use may also contribute to cognitive decline, which is a general deterioration in mental abilities such as thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving.

It’s important to note that these are potential risks, and more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of Benadryl on the brain. Additionally, these risks appear to be more significant for older adults and individuals with existing cognitive issues.

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How Long Does Benadryl Last?

The effects of Benadryl can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s metabolism and the dosage taken. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes for its effects to kick in, and it may vary depending on the type of medication. Generally, Benadryl’s effects last for about 4 to 6 hours, but the drug can stay in your system for a longer period.

Dangers of Mixing Benadryl and Alcohol

Mixing Benadryl and alcohol can increase the sedative effects of both substances, leading to drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination and cognitive function. Both substances can act as central nervous system (CNS) depressants and can intensify each other’s effects.

Additionally, both substances can cause dehydration, and combining them may increase the risk of dehydration-related side effects. Combining Benadryl with alcohol use can also increase the risk of accidents, falls, and other dangerous situations. This can make it even more challenging to perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving or operating machinery.

Benadryl Overdose

In the pursuit of relief or relaxation, some individuals may be tempted to increase their Benadryl dosage. However, exceeding the recommended dose can lead to overdose. Additionally, taking excessive amounts of Benadryl combined with alcohol can also lead to overdose. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 15% of overdose deaths between 2019-2020 involved anti-histamines.

Symptoms of a diphenhydramine overdose include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Overdosing on drugs is a medical emergency and requires immediate emergency care. If you observe someone exhibiting these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.

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Benadryl and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to Benadryl and/or alcohol, it is important to seek professional help. Treatment for addiction may involve a combination of therapies, counseling, and support groups tailored to the individual’s specific needs. A healthcare professional or addiction specialist can guide you or your loved one towards the most appropriate treatment options.

The Hope House is a prominent addiction treatment center located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our expert addiction specialists can guide you or your loved ones towards the most appropriate treatment options. We know that addiction treatment is not the same for everyone, and we commit to providing personalized programs for each of our clients, along with a safe and comfortable environment for recovery.

Reach out to our team today and let us guide you towards a lasting recovery.