Teenagers have an invincible quality that pushes them to seek unnatural highs without worrying about consequences, including the pursuit of hallucinogenic trips in videos currently circulating on the social media platform TikTok.
Dubbed the Benadryl Challenge after the name of the drug (diphenhydramine), the behavior involves ingesting large doses of the over-the-counter antihistamine to achieve hallucinations. Teens are often taking as much as 10 times the normal dose of the medicine, generally used for allergies, and the results can be life-threatening.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mild overdoses of Benadryl can lead to:
- Inability to urinate.
When taken in larger doses, however, the medication can cause the hallucinations the teens are seeking and also:
A 15-year-old Oklahoma girl reportedly died in August after overdosing on the drug.
If you or someone you are with has taken too much Benadryl, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency department.
“Taking higher than the recommended doses of the common over-the-counter allergy medicine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma or even death,” reads the FDA’s warning.
If your children or their friends are exploring the Benadryl Challenge, try talking to them about the potential dangers involved with such experimentation. It might also be a good time to ask why they might be intrigued by it.
Unfettered access to the internet and platforms like TikTok and the actions of their so-called “influencers” can expose children to a wide variety of unhealthy activity, according to Dr. Laura Saunders, clinical coordinator of Young Adult Services – The Right Track/LGBTQ Specialty Track at the Institute of Living, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.
“The challenging thing is that (these ideas) are only a few clicks away for many kids,” she said. “There is a way to review your child’s viewing history on their electronic devices to stay on top of what is going on. You can also ask intermittently, ‘What are you watching?’”
Such periodic prompts can lead parents to chat about such topics as peer pressure and even suicide with their children. She recommends talking to them about how dangerous risky behavior can be, urging them to not “follow the crowd” and emphasizing that they should never see suicide as the answer to anything.