Is Benadryl Addictive? Signs of Addiction and Abuse

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is a readily available antihistamine drug that comes in capsule, tablet, and liquid form. It is one of the most common and most used antihistamine drugs out on the market today. Due to how widely used it is, it would be wise to learn as much as you can about this drug to ensure that you don’t end up misusing it.

To help you out with this, we’ve prepared a brief explainer on important things you need to know about Benadryl. We’ll be covering everything from its uses to possible side effects. If this is something that you want to learn more about, read on as we break down everything that you need to know about using Benadryl.

Can Benadryl Be Abused?

While Benadryl isn’t the first thing that people think of when it comes to drug addiction, it’s important that you understand and recognize that it can be abused. Indeed, just like many of the drugs out on the market Benadryl can be abused and you can be addicted to it if you misuse it. What makes this a dangerous drug to abuse is the fact that it can be rather easy to obtain. Unlike other drugs with sedative effects, it is an over-the-counter drug and requires no prescription. Since the drug is cheap and sold pretty much everywhere, more people have access to it. To make matters worse, social media has also played a role when it comes to Benadryl abuse. A TikTok challenge revolving around the drug called The Benadryl Challenge encouraged people to take the drug at extremely high doses.

When taken in low doses, it can induce drowsiness and sedation. This is why it’s commonly used as a sleep aid for people who have sleeping disorders. However, when taken in higher doses than the recommended amount, it can induce intoxicating and euphoric effects. Some people even report having hallucinations when taking high doses of Benadryl. To make matters worse, it takes a near-lethal amount of Benadryl to achieve these effects. Essentially, people who are abusing this drug are putting themselves in harm’s way.

You can easily be addicted to Benadryl, especially if you are using it beyond the recommended dosages. Now, unlike other drugs, Benadryl addiction is more psychological than it is chemical. Since people take this drug for sleep, they develop dependence and fear that they won’t be able to fall asleep without taking Benadryl. This fear can easily morph into anxiety, making the person more psychologically dependent on this drug.

While developing an addiction to Benadryl is already troublesome, the person taking the drug will eventually build up a tolerance to it. Essentially, this means that the effects of the drug will be dulled the more a person takes it. This is problematic as this will likely lead to them taking higher and higher doses. And as we’ve already stated, taking the drug in a way that goes against the recommended doses can prove to be lethal.

What Are the Signs of Benadryl Abuse?

Considering how easy it is to get the drug, it’s crucial that you are able to either recognize the signs of abuse in others or yourself so that it can be addressed before it gets any worse. However, this is easier said than done as the signs of abuse are quite subtle. Here are the most common signs of abuse:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Inability to urinate
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Jitters
  • An overall sense of physical weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Organ damage to the kidneys and liver
  • Poor coordination

The most blatant sign of abuse comes in the form of sedation. This isn’t surprising as Benadryl, even when taken correctly, gives the same feeling as having a blood alcohol level of 0.10. Considering that the drunk driving limit is set to 0.08, Benadryl is nothing to scoff at. If a person seems groggy and out of it, then it’s likely that they are abusing the drug.

benadryl challenge tik tok
Is Benadryl Addictive

If you or someone you know is experiencing this, it would be best to seek professional help immediately. For those of you struggling with addiction be sure to find the nearest addiction center so you can get the help that you need.

What is Benadryl For?

Benadryl is used to address a slew of different health issues. As an antihistamine, it is commonly used to ease the effects of allergies. If you are experiencing a runny nose, itchy eyes, and an itchy throat then Benadryl may just help you out. It can also be used to treat rashes and itching caused by contact dermatitis and exposure to substances like poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

Like other antihistamines, it makes users drowsy. Because of this, some people take Benadryl to aid with sleep. If you plan on using Benadryl for this purpose, we recommend exercising caution as it can be rather easy to misuse it. Stick to the recommended doses to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

What Are the Side Effects of Benadryl?

Despite its usefulness, it also comes with a couple of drawbacks and side effects. These range from minor annoyances to significant health issues depending on how a person takes the drug. 

Here are the most common side effects associated with Benadryl use:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach Aches

If you experience any of these side effects, we suggest trying to treat them on your own. Dry mouth is quite common and can be easily treated. You can relieve dry mouth by chewing on sugar-free gum and drinking a lot of water. However, if the side effects don’t improve then you may want to see a doctor right away. 

What Are the Symptoms of Benadryl Withdrawal?

While quitting Benadryl is a step in the right direction, we’re sorry to say that it gets harder from here. Like many drugs, Benadryl also comes with withdrawal symptoms that manifest once someone stops taking the drug. The severity of these symptoms vary, depending on how a person used the drug.

Here are the most common withdrawal symptoms attached to abuse:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea

Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, some people also report cold sweats after they stopped taking the drug. This can make it harder for an individual to sleep, which also makes the likelihood of relapsing significantly higher. Lastly, it’s not uncommon to experience cold-like symptoms when undergoing withdrawal.


We hope this information has shed some light on Benadryl and addiction. This article isn’t meant to demonize Benadryl. Just like other medications, it can be helpful when used correctly. With that being said, we can’t overstate how bad it is to misuse this drug as it can lead to a multitude of different issues. Despite it being seemingly harmless, it’s best to take it with caution as taking it in extreme doses can lead to health complications and sometimes even death.