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Antihistamine Abuse is on the rise along with many other over the counter medications that are easy to purchase and reasonably cheap. They can be used for treating allergic reactions, but unfortunately the abuse of antihistamines for the sedative effect is becoming more common place today. Histamine is released by the body during several types of allergic reactions and to a lesser extent during some viral infections, such as the common cold .When histamine binds to its receptors on cells, it stimulates changes within the cells that can lead to sneezing, itching, and increased mucus production. The antihistamine Diphenhydramine is by far the most widely used antihistamine, sold under the brand names Benadryl, Unisom, and Sominex, to name a few. Diphenhydramine has its maximal effect about one hour after it is taken. When used to combat insomnia, it is prescribed at bedtime. The antihistamine Diphenhydramine also blocks the action of acetylcholine (anticholinergic effect) and is used as a sedative because it causes drowsiness. Antihistamines do not cure or shorten the length of the common cold and may cause serious side effects. To decrease the risk for serious side effects from antihistamines , individual users should carefully follow all dosage directions. The regular use of antihistamines can cause several mild to moderate side effects such as dry mouth and headaches, and potentially lead to antihistamine abuse.
The antihistamine Diphenhydramine is used for the relief of nasal and non-nasal symptoms of various allergic conditions such as seasonal allergies. This antihistamine is also used to alleviate cold symptoms and chronic allergy symptoms such as sneezing, and hives. Diphenhydramine is effective at treating minor allergic reactions involving the eyes (allergic conjunctivitis) or to prevent or treat motion sickness, as in the antihistamine Dramamine. The antihistamine Diphenhydramine exaggerates the sedating effects of some prescription drugs that can cause sedation such as the benzodiazepine class of anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin, increasing the likelihood for antihistamine abuse for people who like this enhanced effect. Often, individual use antihistamines with alcohol at high doses to increase the sedative effect of the antihistamine. Using high doses of antihistamines with alcohol can cause liver dysfunction, and is considered antihistamine abuse. Diphenhydramine can commonly cause sedation, tiredness, sleepiness, dizziness, disturbed coordination, drying and thickening of oral and other respiratory secretions, and stomach distress. Diphenhydramine may also cause low blood pressure, palpitations and increased heart rate, confusion, nervousness, irritability, blurred vision, double vision,nausea or loss or appetite, Diphenhydramine should be used with caution (if at all) in persons with hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate gland) and cardiovascular disease. Some people using antihistamines can have serious life threatening side effects including, in rare instances, seizures. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction are unlikely with antihistamines, but can happen, as with any medication.
Abuse of antihistamines is substance abuse, as with any other medication, and should be taken seriously, as with any chemical dependency issue. Receiving treatment for antihistamine abuse is the best possible option for a positive outcome.