More Teens Abusing Benadryl

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When allergies leave you sneezing, what do you turn to? Many of us choose Benadryl. But now more and more young people may not choose Benadryl for allergy relief, but instead, to get high.

"Benadryl kind of seems to be the newest kick," says researcher and Wellness Inx. clinician Dr. Deborah Smith, PhD.

Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl. In large doses it can make you drowsy and hallucinate, increasing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure.

"What I've heard is that kids are just downing a fistful of the pills," says Dr. Smith.

Corey Warren and his team run a substance abuse recovery program in Lansing. They say more people have now come in needing help with over the counter medications.

"Their drug of choice so to speak has been DXM which has been you know anything like cough syrup," says Warren of WAI-IAM, Inc. "I've also have heard of Benadryl."

The diphenhydramine in Benadryl is different from the DXM in cough syrup, taking large quantities of Benadryl, leads to a different feeling. Users may see streaks, fall asleep or possibly have seizures. Teens may often mix Benadryl with alcohol or other substances.

"If they combine it with alcohol it is a real risk," says Dr. Smith.

Benadryl, Tylenol PM, Unisom and similar products are easy to access at the pharmacy or in your medicine cabinet. Dr. Smith says the biggest reason young people may take Benadryl, the hallucinations, is also the biggest concern.

"They may not see the staircase that they are now going to fall down they're not going to see a car," says Dr. Smith.

Plus, it is difficult to recognize if someone is using over the counter medications.

"It's probably one of the toughest things we're seeing right now," says Warren. "It is tough for us as facilitators to be able to test."

Dr. Smith says look for dilated eyes, depression like symptoms, lack of energy, agitation, and confusion. These symptoms can apply to other drugs, so it comes down to being educated.

"Know what could be used as possible drug of abuse," says Dr. Smith.

Dispose of drugs when you are done using them, buy dose size amounts, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

"Maybe your child is going to tell you things you don't want to hear, but don't be afraid of the questions," says Dr. Smith.

It may not be about your child's specific drug of choice, it's the fact that drugs are the choice for your child.

"It is not about the drug it is about us as humans and what we are looking for," says Warren.

Both groups recommend building strong relationships with your children, and they say use online resources.

Search "benadryl abuse" online, or you can visit, Warren's rehabilitation website.

Lansing Police say they haven't dealt with any Benadryl related calls or incidents.

So when it comes to any drug, awareness about what's in your medicine cabinet is really the key.

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