Misuse / Abuse of Benadryl & Alcohol

Misuse / Abuse of Benadryl & Alcohol

There are many ways mixing of Benadryl and alcohol can lead to serious repercussions. This article will discuss some of the reasons that the mixing might lead to drug abuse. Before divulging into the abuse, let’s see what Benadryl is.


Benadryl is the brand name of diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that is used for the treatment of allergic reactions. Antihistamines work as histamine inhibitors. Histamine is responsible for the symptoms of allergic reactions in the body.

Benadryl is easily available at the market. Benadryl can be used for the relief of many symptoms that cause allergy. These symptoms include:

  • Itchy nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling
  • Skin rashes
  • Itchy throat
  • Swelled throat
  • Sneezing

It is, sometimes, given for motion sickness. It prevents nausea and dizziness caused by motion sickness. It can also be given when for sleep. It should be given 30 minutes before bed for sleep.

Benadryl provides relief from all of these symptoms in record time. It is also an over-the-counter drug; therefore, many people can procure it from the local Walmart. Children under the age of 6 shouldn’t take this medicine. It has not shown any promising results in that age group.  Before taking the product, you should consult your general physician or pharmacist.

How to Take Benadryl?

Benadryl can be given orally in syrup or tablet form. It can be given with or without food. Dosage should be given according to the instructions given in the leaflets or the dosage prescribed by the doctor or pharmacist. To measure the dosage of the syrup, there is a cup available inside the packaging.

The point to note here is that antihistamine, specifical diphenhydramine, can cause drowsiness and sleep.


We all know what alcohol is, but not how does alcohol work.

Alcohol affects the neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for sending signals to and from the brain. Alcohol not only works on the excitatory neurotransmitters but also on the inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA.  For our discussion, we must learn about the effects of alcohol on inhibitory GABA. When alcohol is taken, it causes GABA levels to increase, which in turn causes drowsiness and sedation to occur. The speech and movements slowdowns under the effect of the alcohol.

Now that we have established that Benadryl and alcohol both cause drowsiness. Let us see what other effects can happen by mixing these two.

Risks of Mixing Benadryl & Alcohol

There are many disadvantages of mixing alcohol and Benadryl. We will discuss some of the risks here:

Risks of Mixing Benadryl & Alcohol

Risks of Mixing Benadryl & Alcohol

1.      Sleepiness / Drowsiness

Histamine is responsible for the wakefulness of the body. When we take diphenhydramine, it inhibits the release of histamine, thus causing drowsiness. Alcohol has the same effect by increasing the levels of GABA transmitters. When taken together, the inhibition increases, at least, two-fold. This increase in sleepiness can cause serious effects. Driving while taking these two together can cause accidents.

2.      Dehydration

Dehydration is a serious risk. Alcohol causes dehydration by suppressing the enzyme vasopressin that is involved in the water reuptake from the kidneys. This will increase the dieresis effect and therefore cause dehydration. Antihistamines have a drying effect. This effect is great for the watery eyes symptom caused by the allergy, but it also dries out all other fluids in the body. Dehydration is divided into three stages:

  1. Mild
  2. Moderate
  3. Severe

The Benadryl and alcohol mixture causes severe hydration. Dehydration can cause many diseases such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Kidney Pain
  • Shortness of breath

3. Misuse

The sedation and drowsiness caused by this combination can be used for drug abuse. Many addicts might use this combination for their addiction, but it causes so many adverse effects. Addiction from this combination is a serious side effect. Antihistamine alone is sometimes used recreationally, but alcohol intake with this leads to many adverse effects.

4. Learning Impairment

Alcohol directly affects the development of the brain. This is why it is prohibited for females to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol not only affects development but also it also impairs learning ability.

Antihistamines affect acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter. This neurotransmitter is responsible for learning and memory. Antihistamines block this acetylcholine, thus impairing the learning ability.

The combination of these two will wreak havoc on the learning ability of a healthy human being.

5.      Dementia

Benadryl is an anticholinergic as well as an antihistamine. A study found out that people who took a pill of anticholinergic drug per day for three years had a higher risk of developing dementia.

Another study found out that alcohol also causes dementia. The combination of these two can cause dementia to develop quite early.

6.      Old Age

As the human body gets older, many organs start to function slower. This causes many things to happen. When an older person consumes alcohol, it remains longer in the system because the breakdown of alcohol slows down.

The combination of Benadryl and alcohol is quite lethal in older men and women. Memory impairment is a serious side effect, and in old age, this effect increases ten-fold.

Other Alcohol Sources

It should also be noted that alcohol is not only available in beverage form. Many other sources have alcohol in them. Many cough syrups and laxatives have alcohol in them. This alcohol can interact with Benadryl. So, always check before taking any syrup and or medicine that contains alcohol in it.


Benadryl and alcohol together are not a good choice. It is hazardous to health and can even cause many life-threatening accidents. Many adverse side effects can occur by a combination of these two. When a patient is prescribed Benadryl, the doctor or pharmacist explicitly asks the patient not to indulge in alcohol while taking the medication. You should abstain from alcohol while on antihistamine treatment. Not only alcohol but also abstain from all other sources of alcohol.

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