Benadryl Relapse: The Battle of a Recovering Addict

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Are Recovering Addicts Affected by Medication?

More often than not, addicts in recovery find themselves in need of medication. The most common medication tampered with is antihistamines, also referred to as a Benadryl relapse. Although the addict is abstinent from his drug of choice, he may still abuse other medications that are generally used to treat minor to major disorders.

Major disorders can be depression, anxiety, or bipolar—for all of which the individual is strongly suggested to take his medication as prescribed.

It’s important to note that other issues the recovering addict may be faced with (symptoms of a cold, stuffy nose, headache, or allergies) can occur in those not even in recovery. While the solution for the person would be to go to his local drug store for an over-the-counter medication, a recovering addict may question if taking said medication would affect his sobriety.

In most cases, this wouldn’t impact the addict’s recovery process—the intentions of taking Benadryl is what matters.

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an over-the-counter medication used to treat the symptoms of allergic reactions. It is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of natural chemical histamine in the body. Benadryl is also used to treat sneezing, runny nose, hives, and could also be used as a sleep aid and to treat motion sickness.

Why would people choose to get high on Benadryl? Let’s take a look at the drug from the standpoint of an addict. More often than not, an addict will view a non-narcotic medication and think of ways he can abuse it. This occurs mostly when the addict is in an unhealthy mental state. They will often abuse drugs that produce similar effects to the narcotics they were using in active addiction. An addict will get an idea of how the drug will feel like after assessing its side effects, which  include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbed coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • hallucinations when ingested in large amounts.

Benadryl is naturally taken for medical reasons, so those experiencing a relapse would have to have taken the drug in large quantities. The side effects of the drug can be avoided if the drug is taken as directed. However, if the recovering addict decides they are going to take this drug with intentions to get high, it would be considered a risk to themselves and their recovery.

What Recovery Means to The Addict

Recovery is voluntary. It is a maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety and personal health. Sobriety refers to the abstinence from alcohol and all other non-prescribed drugs. Whether you are sober or in recovery, you are committing yourself to a drug-free lifestyle.

When people begin their recovery, they are faced with the dilemma of deciding whether or not to take medication. It is inevitable that a recovering addict, at some point, is going to have to take a drug for underlying medical issues. One might ask,  how do I prevent over the counter drugs from ruining my abstinence?

This is simple. Don’t set the intention of getting high on the medications you might need, and you will not have to restart your sober period.

The concept of addicts in recovery abusing over-the-counter medications (unrelated to the original drug abuse) isn’t anything new; it’s more common than you think.

What Is Relapse?

Relapse is the deterioration of a person’s mental or physical state after a temporary improvement.

There are three categories of a relapse:

  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Physical

A Benadryl relapse, for example, is linked to all three categories above.

The addict might first feel a head cold coming on, and would consider “picking something up to help feel better”. In extreme cases, they could use the excuse of feeling a cold coming on to buy Benadryl. Yet instead of taking the drug to combat their symptoms, they ingest larger quantities with intentions to feel different.

Even though the individual took a non-narcotic allergy medicine, the intentions behind taking the medication were not about clearing their cold symptoms; this is just one of many examples of an over the counter drug relapse.

Intentions of the Recovering Addict

Just because an addict in recovery takes Benadryl, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has relapsed. The intentions set before the individual decides to use a drug is the lead indicator of a relapse. If an individual in recovery decides he truly needs an over-the-counter medication that could potentially get him high but choose to take the medication directly, it would not affect his sobriety. Intentions are vital in the world of recovery.

Is Benadryl Relapse Real?

A Benadryl relapse is very real, and it does happen more often than one might think.

Distinguishing whether you are in relapse mode depends on numerous factors in the individual’s life. Some things to keep in mind when determining whether over-the-counter medications are going to affect your sobriety are:

  • Checking your intentions
  • Asking yourself if you need the drug and why
  • Following dosage instructions
  • Referring back to your support system if you feel uneasy about certain medications
  • Questioning your commitment to recovery
  • Reflecting on past drug use as motivation, not glorification

Need Help?

Relapse does not need to be a part of your recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call Ocean Breeze Recovery at 850- 960 – 5341. Trained medical staff is available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about addiction and where to get help.

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