Antihistamines have the power to be addictive for some people, though staying within recommended doses for shorter periods does not mean a person will become addicted. Some people’s biology presents in such a way that the chemicals make their brains crave more, so they may become addicted or dependent more easily than people. With sedating antihistamines, higher doses for long periods of time can cause physical dependency issues and addiction.
Most people who take these drugs assume they are for coughs and allergies but are not addictive at all. The older, sedating antihistamines, from the 1940s and ’50s, get into the central nervous system (CNS), which gives them the potential for abuse and addiction. The drugs include Benadryl and Promethazine. The few cases reported of addiction focus on children who feel sleepy after using it. Some people will take it because their brain thinks it makes them feel better and they get a high from it. They may need higher doses to fall asleep and use it more frequently as a sleep aid than they should, rather than addressing underlying, root causes of the inability to sleep. After a while, they develop symptoms of addiction which causes some severe issues later.
Abuse of Antihistamines
When people develop tolerance or addiction to antihistamines, they may need to take increasing doses of diphenhydramine to maintain the effects. This dependence, due to withdrawal symptoms, can lead to seeking the drug to relieve symptoms. Addiction can look like compulsive drug-seeking behavior and chemical or psychological dependence on the medicine. The risk of addiction is greater for people who are more susceptible to drug abuse.
Signs of Withdrawal
After abuse of these drugs or suddenly stopping them, withdrawal symptoms may occur. This can include:
- Runny nose
The more a person uses these drugs, the more they may hallucinate. They may also experience sleepiness, lack of coordination, excitability, poor sleep quality, or irregular heartbeat, also. The sedative effects increase if medications are mixed with other medicines in cough syrups or are taken with alcohol and other drugs. Combine all these drugs, in what is called poly-drug use, can exacerbate symptoms and create space where a person may confuse their body and start to cause a real problem in their body that may shut down their organs or cause an overdose.
There is help available for drug addiction and abuse issues. Dual diagnosis treatment, treatment for poly-drug use and other issues are available at treatment centers all over the United States. It is worth talking to a doctor and trusted loved ones if there is fear of addiction or withdrawal issues about how to detox safely and find help.
A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through programs, therapeutic support, and evidence-based therapies. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information on sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702