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FDA Warns About the Benadryl Challenge

A person has reportedly died after taking an excessive amount of Benadryl anti-allergy medication as part of a challenge on the social media app TikTok. The challenge involves TikTok users daring each other to consume large amounts of the medicine, which is normally taken to ease allergy symptoms from conditions like hayfever. This is not a drug people should be experimenting with. So what does a Benadryl overdose actually look like? What is important for people who are aware of this Tiktok challenge, to know about the medication?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [1] warns that consumption of higher than recommended doses of the popular over-the-counter (OTC) allergy drug diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl abuse) can lead to seizures, serious heart problems, coma, or even death. FDA is aware of news reports of a person ending up in emergency rooms or dying after playing in the “Benadryl Challenge” encouraged in videos posted on the social media app TikTok [2].

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What is Benadryl?

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is a brand-name, over-the-counter (OTC) medication that’s classified as an antihistamine. It’s used to help relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies such as hay fever, other allergies, and the common cold, as well as itchy skin due to insect bites, hives, and other causes.  

Diphenhydramine or Benadryl is also most often used for the treatment of vomiting, nausea, allergic rhinitis, mild to severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, and as a mild sleep aid. However, due to easy access to this over-the-counter medication, it is often abused and can lead to acute intoxication, and if taken in large doses, it can lead to Benadryl overdose.

Benadryl Overdose
It’s important to know what Benadryl overdose symptoms look like to be able to recognize them in yourself or a loved one.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [3], over the past 20 years or so, the drug misuse scenario has seen the emergence of both prescription drugs abuse and over-the-counter (OTC) medications being reported as ingested for recreational purposes. OTC drugs such as antihistamines, cold and cough medications, and decongestants are reportedly the most popular in being diverted and misused.

Benadryl Overdose

Other common over-the-counter (OTC) brands that include the antihistamine diphenhydramine include:

  • Siladryl
  • Banophen
  • Unisom
  • Benadryl-D Allergy Plus Sinus
  • Sudafed PE Day/Night Sinus Congestion
  • Robitussin Severe Multi-Symptom Cough Cold + Flu Nighttime

Side Effects of Taking Benadryl 

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of diphenhydramine. Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

Common side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry eyes, blurred vision
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat
  • Decreased urination
  • Constipation
  • Feeling restless or excited (especially in children)
  • Day-time drowsiness or “hangover” feeling after night-time use

Stop using Benadryl and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • Little or no urinating
  • Pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Confusion, feeling like you might pass out
  • Tightness in your neck or jaw, uncontrollable movements of your tongue

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Dangers of Benadryl Overdose

Benadryl overdose can show symptoms like sleepiness, agitation, confusion, blurred vision, constipation and the inability to sweat and pass urine, dry eyes and mouth, coma, seizures, and cardiac arrest. Assuming someone is not seizing or in cardiac arrest, there are two different common presentations. Some individuals are in a coma and are hard or impossible to wake up. The other type of individuals is delirious. They might be picking at sheets on the hospital bed, not making any sense. They are more likely to be mumbling incoherently, be agitated, and have impaired vision.

Talk to your teens abou
Talk to your teens about the dangers of Benadryl Overdose

Do not underestimate how dangerous this medication is; just because it is available without a prescription, it doesn’t mean it can’t kill you if you take enough of it. There is a very fine line between being a bit sleepy and having significant problems like heart problems and seizures, which can be life-threatening. According to the National Institute for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [4], in 2016, a study demonstrated that diphenhydramine or Benadryl overdoses made up 3.2% of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. In the same study, diphenhydramine ranked among the top 15 drugs most frequently involved in drug overdose deaths in the U.S

Causes of Benadryl Overdose

Benadryl overdosed can lead to inevitable severe consequences to your health. Also, Benadryl overdose can lead to acute toxicity. Benadryl overdose symptoms are similar to acute psychosis and often lead to hospitalization. Individuals should immediately seek immediate medical help in case of an overdose from this OTC medicine [5].

  • Toxicity
  • Suicide Intents
  • Accidental Overdose
  • Mixing Medications
  • Addiction and Misuse

Sign and Symptoms Of Benadryl Overdose

Benadryl overdose can happen accidentally or on purpose. In certain situations, when Benadryl is used recreationally, combined with alcohol or other drugs, or taken in large doses on purpose, the risk of overdose increases. 

While intentional Benadryl overdose or intoxication can be observed in people attempting self-harm or suicide, there is documentation of individuals using this medication to produce euphoric and pleasant effects. 

  • Blurred vision
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Red and itchy skin
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth, eyes, and skin
  • A significant increase in heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Tachycardia
  • Drowsiness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Fever
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsion
  • Mild to severe seizures
  • Unsteadiness and walking difficulties
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of sweating
  • Coma

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Benadryl Overdose
Our NJ drug abuse treatment center is sharing more information about Benadryl overdose, and it can happen.

Benadryl Abuse

Benadryl can be abused if people use it incorrectly. Individuals may misuse Benadryl for delirium since it is so readily available. This is a dangerous practice. The symptoms can be severe and are even worse if the drug is combined with other substances like alcohol. A person can develop Benadryl tolerance and addiction. A lot of people who abuse medications that contain these ingredients experience side effects like hallucinations and sleepiness.

It is also possible to experience Benadryl overdose, causing dangerous toxicity to the body. Over the past years, there have been alarming incidents in Benadryl-related suicide attempts reported to the Missouri Poison Center. When this medication is used in excess or for long periods of time, users may experience serious mental complications and dementia-type symptoms.

Signs of Benadryl Abuse

The signs of Benadryl abuse or substance abuse of any kind are not always visible. Here is what to watch out for if you suspect a loved one may be abusing Benadryl 

  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion or difficultly processing information
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Poor coordination
  • Loss of appetite 

Signs of Benadryl abuse that are more difficult to notice may include chest tightness, physical weakness, headache, or gastrointestinal distress. 

Interactions Between Benadryl and Alcohol

The term “drug overdose” often has undertones of illegal drugs or intentional abuse attached to it. However, some seemingly harmless over-the-counter (OTC) medications can still result in risk when combined with some other kinds of drugs. One example of such a combination is Benadryl and alcohol. Both are regularly found in homes in the US, so the risk of accidental mixing of the two can be dangerous.

The combination of alcohol and Benadryl can lead to a heavily sedated condition and trouble with thinking. Most of the danger begins when someone has taken both attempts to drive or operate machinery. Since the state induced by Benadryl and alcohol is similar to a very drunken state, driving brings all the risks of drunk driving.

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Benadryl Addiction Treatment

Benadryl abuse and addiction not only affect users physically but psychologically and emotionally as well. In addition, relapse is often possible because of the symptoms associated with antihistamine withdrawal, including those who developed a dependency on this medication. 

Moreover, people who are addicted to diphenhydramine often have concomitant addictions to alcohol and other drugs. Hence, asking for expert help in a drug abuse treatment center might be an option that users can consider if they struggle to overcome their substance abuse disorders. 

The professional guidance and assistance provided in an inpatient setting can offer the client a better understanding of their addiction and effectively recover. A tailored program can be developed for a specific person’s case. During treatment, the client is also offered several therapies to help them recover control over their lives. These may include:

After the client has been fully recovered from their addiction, they may be required to engage in after-care support programs to guarantee that they do not relapse and continue on their road to recovery.

Find the Right Addiction Treatment at We Level Up NJ

A key thing to understand is that addiction cannot be controlled: it’s not a choice. The reasons why someone may begin using harmful substances, to begin with, are numerous. You don’t need to know how or why someone is addicted to get them help.

With the help of a doctor, licensed counselor, or other professional, you can plan an intervention. During an intervention, loved ones will discuss how the struggling person has impacted them, propose a treatment plan, and explain their options if they decline treatment. 

If you or your loved one is worried that the Benadryl dependency or abuse may eventually lead to a life-threatening Benadryl overdose, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional prescription drugs addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. To learn more, contact us today at We Level Up NJ Treatment Facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

Benadryl overdose
Benadryl overdose can occur accidentally or on purpose.

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[1] FDA –

[2] Forbes ––tiktok-benadryl-challengeas-doctors-warn-of-dangers/?sh=12ab1458f0db

[3] NCBI –

[4] NCBI –

[5] NIDA –

[6] We Level UpPrescription Drug Abuse