Benadryl Cocktail: What’s In It and Why It’s Dangerous for Your Health

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benadryl cocktail

Addictions to drugs and alcohol affect the lives of millions of individuals each year. When people struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they often don’t realize the effects of combining substances. A Benadryl cocktail is a combination of alcohol and Benadryl. Although some people may use it voluntarily to enhance the effects felt when using Benadryl or drinking alcohol, others use Benadryl cocktails to hinder the ability of others to understand their surroundings. 


When combined, alcohol and Benadryl can have an overwhelmingly sedating effect. For some, the combination of these two substances can lead to blackouts or unconsciousness. Unfortunately, this has brought the Benadryl cocktail to the forefront of news and law enforcement logs. It has become a prominent drug used by individuals to commit date rape or sexual assaults. When used voluntarily, combining alcohol and Benadryl is known as polysubstance abuse, and it can be harmful and potentially fatal. The most effective way to overcome a struggle with polysubstance abuse is through comprehensive, evidence-based treatment at an addiction treatment center like The Hills. This is especially true when trying to overcome an addiction to alcohol, as withdrawal symptoms can be complex and challenging to manage without outside support and guidance. 


What is Benadryl Used For?

When used as directed, Benadryl is a highly effective allergy medication. Also known as diphenhydramine, Benadryl is widely used to treat a range of allergy symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, throat irritation, and red and itchy eyes. In some instances, Benadryl is also recommended by medical providers as a way to manage symptoms of insomnia and motion sickness. 


Benadryl is an antihistamine. It works by blocking the actions of histamines which are naturally occurring chemicals in the body responsible for allergy symptoms. In its brand name formula, Benadryl is only approved as an allergy medication. Benadryl is easy to purchase as it is commonly found both in brand name and generic forms at pharmacies, grocery stores, and even in some gas stations and hotel gift shops. Many people see Benadryl as a harmless product that is safe to use. While this may be an accurate assumption in most instances, Benadryl use can lead to side effects, some of which can be severe. 


What are the Side Effects of Benadryl Use?

Benadryl is widely used to treat symptoms related to seasonal allergies and acute allergic reactions. Although highly effective when used as directed, Benadryl is frequently misused. Like many medications, Benadryl is not without side effects, many of which are made worse by using Benadryl with other drugs or alcohol. Common side effects of Benadryl use include dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and headache. For some who are sensitive to the ingredients of Benadryl, symptoms such as agitation and excitability may occur. 


Benadryl acts as a sedative or central nervous system depressant. This means it works within the brain to slow the activities of the central nervous system. When someone uses Benadryl, the speed with which the brain communicates and receives signals from other parts of the body is slowed. Consuming alcohol or another sedative drug with Benadryl can drastically enhance its sedative properties leading to potentially dangerous physical and psychological consequences. 


What is a Benadryl Cocktail?

A Benadryl cocktail is the result of mixing liquid Benadryl into a drink, most commonly alcohol. The Benadryl cocktail is an unfortunate addition to the collection of sexual assault or “date rape” drugs used to incapacitate potential victims. Although the GBH and Rohypnol are more familiar, a Benadryl cocktail can lead someone to become disoriented or even unconscious. 


Why is a Benadryl Cocktail Dangerous? 

A Benadryl cocktail combines alcohol and Benadryl. Both substances are central nervous system depressants, and taking them together is dangerous. When taken together, they can depress your central nervous system too much. These levels of sedation often lead to challenges with physical and mental tasks that are vital to maintaining safety and alertness. In the most severe cases, over sedation that occurs with an alcohol and Benadryl combination can lead to unconsciousness and death. 


In addition to increased central nervous system depression, combining alcohol and Benadryl can have other physical and psychological effects. Both alcohol and Benadryl lead to dehydration. Depending on the severity of dehydration, someone who uses Benadryl and alcohol together may experience problems with low blood pressure and constipation. 


Benadryl, like alcohol, also affects memory and cognition, although through different means. Benadryl acts on neurotransmitters in the brain called acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is specifically responsible for learning and memory functions. When used independently, misuse or overuse of Benadryl can lead to impairment of memory and learning. However, when combined with alcohol, short-term memory functions may be significantly reduced. This is part of the reason why a Benadryl cocktail is so dangerous, especially to someone who consumes it without knowing. 


Finally, there may be a connection between alcohol and Benadryl use and dementia. One study showed a link between increased dementia risk and those who take a daily antihistamine for at least three years. Another separate study showed that excessive alcohol use or alcohol addiction is associated with an elevated risk for dementia development. Therefore, it is not a giant leap to consider there may be a connection between Benadryl and alcohol consumption and an increased risk for cognitive issues such as dementia. 


Why Treatment for Benadryl and Alcohol Addiction is Important

Polysubstance abuse is a term used to describe misuse or abuse of multiple substances. In this case, alcohol and Benadryl used together would be polydrug or polysubstance abuse. When used alone, each drug has unique effects on the user. When used together, the combined effects of the drugs may enhance the desired effects of both substances. Yet, when combined, multiple drugs can also enhance the problematic and potentially dangerous effects of each individual substance. While the individual effects of most drugs are primarily known and understood, combining substances can bring about unpredictable outcomes. For this reason, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to predict how combining drugs such as Benadryl and alcohol may affect you. It is also challenging to predict how the anticipated short and long-term effects of polysubstance abuse will affect you during and after addiction treatment at a luxury addiction rehab like The Hills in Los Angeles, CA. 


Withdrawing from multiple substances is inevitably more complicated than withdrawal from a single substance. Because of the unpredictable nature of detox and withdrawal, it is vital to complete detox and treatment at an addiction treatment facility like The Hills, where medically assisted detox is available. As part of medically assisted detox, a trained team of mental and mental health professionals will provide support and guidance throughout the detox process. This includes continual monitoring of vital signs and the availability of needed emotional and physical support during the most challenging stages of detox. It may also include emergency medical intervention if needed. Depending on the intensity and severity of withdrawal symptoms, your treatment team may administer medications to help you safely and successfully manage symptoms. 


Withdrawal from multiple substances is more complicated and unpredictable. Ensuring you have access to support and guidance throughout detox and withdrawal decreases the potential for relapse. It also helps improve your opportunity to successfully transition to the therapeutic portion of a treatment program where you can work towards achieving your recovery goals. Therapy for polysubstance abuse focuses on changing harmful behaviors and thought patterns. The most effective therapy model used to achieve this goal is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. Cognitive-behavioral therapy encourages patients to examine their thoughts and behaviors to better understand how those thoughts and behaviors lead to addiction. Once you understand the root causes of addiction as they pertain to your unique circumstances, your therapist will encourage you to change the thoughts and behaviors to encourage safer and healthier responses to use triggers. 


The most successful addiction treatment programs are those that focus treatment specifically on the needs and goals of the individual. Addiction is a disease that effects each person in unique ways. Therefore, the treatment and recovery process must be individulized to ensure success. At The Hills in Los Angeles, we understand that pre-set or cookie-cutter treatment programs are often unsuccessful in helping patients achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. Our individually designed treatment programs focus on healing your physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. For those struggling with polysubstance abuse, it is also essential for a treatment program to address the underlying reasons why substance abuse initially began. 


At The Hills, we understand the challenges that come with admitting to a struggle with addiction. It can be difficult to accept that you need help to overcome a destructive relationship with drugs or alcohol. The first step on the road to recovery is reaching out to a professional treatment center like The Hills to learn more about how we can help you get well. Here at our luxury Los Angeles treatment center, our caring and compassionate team of medical and mental health providers will work with you to ensure your treatment plan includes therapy models that will help you put addiction in the past. Our therapeutic programs are created by combining proven successful evidence-based treatments with holistic and alternative therapies to ensure you receive the most comprehensive treatment program possible. As your treatment program come to an end, we are here to provide a seamless transition to a previously designed aftercare program designed to give you the support you need to maintain lasting recovery. 


If you or a loved one struggles with polysubstance abuse, it is essential to seek treatment at a professional treatment center like The Hills. Chronic abuse of alcohol and Benadryl can lead to lasting and harmful consequences. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you overcome addiction.

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