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Benadryl and alcohol are both incredibly common drugs that are in regular use in the United States and around the world. Benadryl is mostly used to control the symptoms of occasional allergies and occasionally as a long-term maintenance medication for severe or unavoidable allergies.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a legal recreational drug that alters your mental state and can be relaxing for some.

However, even though both of these drugs are relatively common, there can be serious issues when you mix the two of them, especially when you intentionally mix them for recreational reasons.

There are many reasons not to mix drugs, but it’s good to know specific signs of problems if you use either.

It’s also important to remember that Benadryl is a brand name, but other drugs may have the same active ingredients. Those drugs are just as dangerous to mix with alcohol as name-brand Benadryl. Generic versions and slightly different medications included.

Ready to learn more about the side effects of Benadryl and alcohol and how mixing them can point to underlying drug problems that may need to be treated?

Then let’s get started!

Side Effects Of Benadryl And Alcohol

Many side effects come from mixing Benadryl and alcohol, partly because they are both depressants that can work on similar parts of your system. In addition, you can have compounded effects from both drugs when mixed or more severe versions of their normal effects and side effects.

We’ll talk more about that in the next section.

Let’s start with the common side effects of each drug taken separately.

Side Effects Of Benadryl

Like all medications, there is some risk of getting unusual or unlisted side effects when taking Benadryl, especially if you are taking any other drug or medication simultaneously.

Here are the common side effects of Benadryl:

  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • tiredness
  • sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • impaired coordination
  • constipation
  • dry mouth/nose/throat
  • difficulty urinating
  • enlarged prostate
  • upset stomach
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • tremor
  • loss of appetite
  • headache
  • nausea

Side Effects Of Alcohol

Alcohol might be legal, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have side effects or is safe for all or most users. There are a lot of potential side effects from alcohol use, all of which can get worse or become more dangerous when you’re taking other drugs.

Side effects from alcohol are likely to get stronger over time and are stronger with longer use or in larger doses.

Here are some of the common side effects and health consequences of alcohol use:

  • Flushed face
  • Reduced attention span/ability to concentrate
  • Dehydration
  • Impaired movement
  • Impaired cognition
  • Impaired memory
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes/nose/mouth/throat
  • Nausea
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Impaired judgment
  • Vomiting
  • Slower heart rate
  • Extreme shifts in mood
  • Vision impairment
  • Slurred speech/speech impairment
  • Liver damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Respiratory problems/slowed breathing
  • Stomach and intestinal ulcers
  • Greater risk of respiratory infections
  • Greater risk of cancer

There are other side effects and risks from drinking alcohol, especially excessive drinking. Still, these are the most common side effects and problems that drinkers, especially heavy drinkers, may have to deal with.

You may have noticed some similar symptoms and kinds of symptoms from using both Benadryl and Alcohol. That’s partly because these drugs have similar effects on your nervous system and interact with a wide variety of systems in your body, which can result in similar effects even when they aren’t used for the same reasons.

Now that you know more about the individual side effects of Benadryl and alcohol, let’s discuss the risks and side effects of combining them.

What Are The Side Effects Of Mixing Benadryl And Alcohol?

We’ve already talked a little about mixing Benadryl and alcohol can be dangerous, but it’s worth emphasizing. Just because we know about the side effects of mixing Benadryl and alcohol doesn’t mean that it’s at all safe to do so. In fact, it can be very dangerous, and combining these drugs can increase your risk of overdosing on them accidentally.

Because these side effects are largely the result of drug combinations, we’re going to break them down in a little more detail than the side effects of each drug individually.

Here are some common side effects of mixing Benadryl and alcohol:

Drowsiness

Benadryl and alcohol can make you sleepy, and combining the two makes the effect much stronger. Unfortunately, since combining these drugs isn’t safe, it’s not a good idea to fall asleep when you combine them, intentionally or accidentally.

If you fall asleep while using these two drugs, you might be in more danger because you won’t be able to monitor your other symptoms and side effects.

Losing Consciousness

It can be difficult to tell losing consciousness apart from falling asleep, but there is a slight difference. Mostly in that, losing consciousness isn’t something you can prevent when it happens, while you can take steps to keep yourself awake if you’re falling asleep.

Both of these symptoms are dangerous. A good reason to contact medical professionals is if you are having problems staying awake or if someone you love has lost consciousness after taking alcohol and Benadryl. If you cannot wake someone after they’ve taken Benadryl and alcohol, call 911 to get emergency help.

Dehydration

Both Benadryl and alcohol can cause dehydration on their own, and dehydration can worsen the side effects and potentially dangerous effects of both drugs. Dehydration is also dangerous in its own right, and severe dehydration can require medical assistance.

Drinking water only helps so much since these drugs can change how your body processes things, and processing them can take more water than normal.

Electrolyte drinks might help more than plain water, but you may also need medical intervention with IV or subcutaneous fluids in extreme cases.

Slowed Breathing

Benadryl and alcohol can lead to central nervous system depression, which can also lead to slowed breathing and might put you at greater risk of stopping breathing, especially if you lose consciousness.

Are You Abusing Drugs? Signs You May Be Abusing Benadryl Or Alcohol

Combining Benadryl and alcohol is a good indicator that you might be abusing drugs or are at greater risk of abusing drugs.

Often when people combine Benadryl and alcohol, it’s because they are trying to relax and can’t get the effects they are looking for from either drug alone.

To be clear, accidentally combining these drugs or combining them when you don’t know it’s risky isn’t necessarily a sign of abuse. Unfortunately, people often forget that they shouldn’t combine them since both drugs are common or how long Benadryl and alcohol can stay in your system and combine them by accident.

But, if you’re tempted to take them together, especially for sleep or recreational reasons, that may indicate underlying problems and substance use disorders. Normal use of these drugs doesn’t include intentionally combining them.

How To Get Help For An Addiction To Benadryl And Alcohol

If you’re dealing with an addiction to either Benadryl or alcohol and especially to combining them, it’s a good idea to get help to overcome that addiction.

Both Benadryl and alcohol are drugs that can have serious long-term health consequences long after you decide to stop taking them. When you combine them, problems like liver and kidney damage get worse and harder to control, partly because both drugs need to be filtered by those organs simultaneously, causing much stress.

It’s also important to know that older people and people who process alcohol or Benadryl differently than normal are at particular risk when they combine these drugs. That’s because the elderly take longer to process alcohol and most drugs, and people who metabolize these drugs differently may have a wide range of unanticipated effects and may have the drugs at higher potency than they anticipated when they took them.

Knowing the risks can be a powerful motivator for overcoming addiction, which is why we include them here.

It’s a good idea to talk with friends and family about your addiction and ask for additional support and help while you’re in treatment and trying to overcome the addiction and recover.

Since these drugs can be complicated to manage and may have wide-ranging medical side effects, we’d also recommend getting the help of medical professionals while you are in withdrawal and detox from these drugs.

Your primary care physician might be able to provide some medical support. However, treatment centers and other locations offering full-time care and monitoring might be a better and safer option.

If you’re serious about overcoming addiction to Benadryl and alcohol, Ascendant NY is here for you. We have a range of programs for dealing with addiction. We can even help at different phases of recovery, from acute withdrawal and managing detox to providing ongoing support while you’re recovering and stable.

Contact us to learn more about our programs, intake requirements, and how we can help you overcome your addiction to Benadryl and alcohol.

Sources:

  1. RxList. Side Effects of Benadryl (Diphenhydramine), Warnings, Uses. RxList. Published June 2, 2020. Accessed August 18, 2022. https://www.rxlist.com/benadryl-side-effects-drug-center.htm
  2. 2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol’s Effects on the Body | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Accessed August 18, 2022. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects-body

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, The Heights Treatment, Infinite Recovery, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed August 26, 2022