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Old 07-28-2009, 04:30 AM   #1
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Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

A couple years ago, I started taking 50mg Diphenhydramine to help me sleep (work schedule varied week to week, so I was having trouble adjusting), and increased to 100-150mg a night, and stopped after several months because I felt addicted to it.

Recently, probably about two months ago, I started dealing with depression and began taking 50-100mg/night. For about a month now, I've been taking them through all hours of the day, averaging somewhere between 300 and 900mg a day. Recently, I've experienced some short spells of chest pain and increased heart rate, and headaches that I feel on the sides of my head, almost like my brain is pulsating painfully. I've had mild visual and audio hallucinations for a couple of weeks, and I'm not really sure what permanent damage I've caused but I'm sure there is some regardless.

I suspect that this stuff may be fueling my depression, because it's only gotten worse lately, and I know I should see a doctor, but I probably won't. I'm not entirely sure what answers I'm looking for, but information on possible long-term effects would be a good place to start.

 
Old 07-28-2009, 10:51 AM   #2
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is an anti-histamine. It certainly has other uses as it produces sedation, hence its application as a sleep aid. 50mg is the recommended dose. At doses of 300-900mg you are risking your life. Seriously. Im not going to do a cut and paste from another website listing the dangers of this kind of dosage, you can look that up yourself if you want to. Why would you take such large doses of this drug? You mention depression, and the diphenhydramine could be contributing to depression but maybe its more of an underlying cause. you say "I know I should see a doctor, but I probably won't." and again I must ask why? the good news is that I dont believe that the drug is going to be hard to withdraw from, like opiates, but your body will undoubtedly have issues adjusting to things like sleeping without it. I rarely jump in and post in situations like this but I say this kindly; please go and see a doctor, you are risking your life with a dangerous dose of an antihistamine because clearly something is bothering you in your life and you are searching for a way to "fix it" Benadryl is NOT the answer and at this level may cause serious harm. Once again, feel free to look that up yourself and see what high levels of this drug can do. You need help, your Doctor is the place to get it, not by self medicating like this.

 
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Old 07-28-2009, 02:54 PM   #3
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

Thanks for your post. I haven't taken any in approx 16 hours, so I'm doing well so far. I wasn't able to sleep last night, but slept from 8am to 10am and again from 11:30 to 2pm. The reason I think that I've been taking so much of this is that I crave the feeling that a handful of little tablets can put me in an uncontrollably drowsy state whenever I need it. The problem is that I started doing this, and then staying awake through it, which felt painful every time, and I would take more in an attempt to sleep, but then again stay awake.

I do not have any sort of health insurance, so visiting a doctor is not an option I feel I can consider, and I don't really want to burden my parents with this issue. At this point, I feel like I can probably stay off diphenhydramine, but knowing that I have a full bottle on my desk is also always present in my mind. The reason I registered on this board is just that... I don't really know what to make of any of this situation. The last couple of months feel like a blur when I think about them, and I'm afraid at how this could turn out.

 
Old 07-28-2009, 06:53 PM   #4
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

You are using the Benadryl as an "escape" in your life because you don't want to deal with life on life's terms. There is something going on in your life that you can't or don't want to deal with. If you think that you have depression, this is only going to make it much worse. I take this every night to help me sleep but only 50mg/night and I have taken this dose for a long time maybe 9 years or so. But I don't take it during the day and I don't take any more than 2 pills.

You might want to check out a 12 step group such as Alcoholic's Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. You are using the Benadryl just like an alcoholic uses a bottle of beer. Things are not going to get any better on their own especially if you don't do anything about it. You need to NOT take any of the pills, get rid of the bottle, don't buy anymore. The mental addiction is going to be far far worse than the physical addiction. If you have insomnia, you might want to try something natural like Melatonin (which you can buy OTC). I have used this in the past for insomnia too. Please get help soon or you might take too much, go to sleep and NEVER WAKE UP FOR REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

brian

 
Old 07-28-2009, 07:17 PM   #5
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

If your parents care about you, you should tell them. It will save your life if they do care. If they don't, then still don't take the drugs.

When people quit smoking, they try chewing gum. Try eating healthier and keep chewing on something. Or try a non-harmful substance. For example, people trying to get off drugs smoke a non-harmful herbal substance (I don't know what it's called but it's just a bunch of herbs.) But remember, not all herbs are harmless.

The point is: whether you get off drugs cold turkey or gradually, it's important to get off of them completely as soon as possible. I would suggest cold turkey though as going gradually could still kill you, and I would never want that to happen.

Tell your parents though. That's the most important thing. It will literally save your life if they truly love you.

 
Old 07-28-2009, 08:21 PM   #6
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

Odd thing. I didn't think anyone else had ever abused that stuff. (I'm sure they have though)

I did the same thing. I started out taking 50mg of Unisom to help me sleep but after a while I just took it because I couldn't stand being sad all the time and wanted to sleep through it (Major Depressive Disorder).

I was taking 200mg-600mg at a time, sometimes 3 times a day towards the end of it all. Many times it would make me feel hyper and extremely restless rather than helping me sleep though.

I eventually got help in the form of different anti-depressants than the ones I was taking at the time and quit taking the Unisom altogether. I didn't have any physical withdrawals, just mental.

I know it can't be healthy. If you are having side effects from it you should see a doctor before any problem you have now becomes worse. Early treatment always beats late treatment.

Last edited by 1stepAhead; 07-28-2009 at 08:22 PM.

 
Old 07-28-2009, 09:04 PM   #7
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

@1step: Yeah, I spent a few days searching for anyone with a similar experience, but as you imply, I also felt like I was going to be alone on the issue.

I'm not sure how my body is going to deal with sleeping yet, but I'm closing in on 24 hours without touching the stuff, and if past substance abuse is any indication, once I clear the first 2 or 3 days it should be easy sailing (so long as I stay determined).

I do still have lingering headaches, and sharp aches behind my eyes/nose (sinuses? would make sense I guess), and if they don't go away after 48 hours I'll see about getting it checked out. I mean, believe it or not I'm not a total idiot, and if I see any serious symptoms popping up, I'll deal with them.

As for the depression... I feel like it won't go away quite as easily, and um... as someone said I do have some issues that I don't think I can deal with. I've tried, and I've spent probably the better part of 6 months on an emotional roller coaster because of it. I don't really know what my options are if I can't afford counseling or antidepressants or whatever else. Kicking this stuff is helping to clear my head enough to see the issues, at least.

 
Old 07-29-2009, 01:51 AM   #8
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

Alright I've got more of a concrete question now. I read this on Wikipedia, and is why I mentioned this problem maybe having something to do with depression.

"In the 1960s it was found that diphenhydramine inhibits reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin."

and, from what little knowledge I have, SSRIs are common antidepressants that help to increase serotonin production in these receptor sites... so could diphenhydramine effectively work as an... anti-anti-depressant?

 
Old 07-29-2009, 06:43 AM   #9
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

maybe it does act as anti-anti depressant, who knows. I think the main point here is the BEHAVIOR not the substance, as you mentioned "I crave the feeling that a handful of little tablets can put me in an uncontrollably drowsy state whenever I need it." When you exhibit that kind of behavior, its not such a leap to a handful of something else, I dont know, perhaps pain medication or anxiety medication. Brians sugesstion to attend a 12 step one is excellent. You need support in understanding healthy (sober) thinking before you develop a problem with an addictive substance. Meanwhile, keep in mind that doses of Bendryl like that can kill you.

I do think that its worth talking to your faamily Dr about things - many Drs have samples of antidepressants that can help you for a few months. Some of the older SSRI meds are now generic - One med I recently added to my pain managment again is Prozac. Generic Fluoxetine probably available for $4 at Walmart. Some counseling may support you too - you sound like an intellegent (young? I'm guessing as you reference your parents) man who just needs a little help sorting things out. Please, get some help now before you get in over your head, I know that medical help can be expensive but the potential consequences of your path can be much, much worse.

With kindness, Heather

 
Old 07-29-2009, 01:24 PM   #10
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Re: Concerns about my diphenhydramine abuse/overuse

Try contacting your county's mental health board and ask if there is any type of free assistance or sliding fee assistance. Almost every city will have a mental health board and they provide free or low cost counseling and/or psychiatric assistance to people who don't have insurance. There are options out there but you must be willing to seek them out. Are you willing to change? That is the biggest question because if you are not willing to change then there is nothing anyone can do to get you to change. No one can stop you from taking the Benadryl.

I will tell you that there was once that I OD'd on a bottle of Benadryl and I'm talking 70-80 pills of them. It is a long story but let's just say I was super paranoid having a big crack-cocaine bing and thought the cops were coming to arrest me so I figured at least if I OD"s they would take me to the hosptial first without going to jail. "I know crazy addict thinking right?" Well after about 15 minutes of laying on my bed and realizing the cops were not outside and that if I did not call to get help I probably would die I called 911 and told them what happened. It was not a pleasant experience and I don't remember alot of it. But I do remember having to drink about 3 glasses of activated charcoal which is VERY VERY NASTY stuff. Just imagine taking ash out of your fireplace, mixing it in water and chugging it that's about what it is. If I had not gotten help I know that I would be dead so don't let this happen to you.

brian

 
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