Mom says teen nearly died from allergy medication overdose
Published Friday, October 18, 2013 11:16AM CST Last Updated Friday, October 18, 2013 4:03PM CST
They are found in most drug stores, pharmacies and even your own home. But some teens are taking the popular allergy medication Benadryl in order to get high.
Recently, Winnipeg paramedics had to rush a 16-year-old boy to hospital after he took 20 capsules or 500 milligrams of Benadryl.
"He was hallucinating, he was delusional," said the boy's mother, who did not want to be identified. "He was so out of control, to the point he had to be restrained."
The mother said her son got the idea to take the pills after watching some videos on YouTube showing young people taking large amounts of medications such as Benadryl and Gravol.
"I could not believe it when I found hundreds of these videos on YouTube," said the mother. "Kids instructing other kids on how to get 'legally high .'"
Benadryl is an anti-histamine, which contains diphenhydramine hydrochloride. The addictions foundation of Manitoba says 20 per cent or one in five teens have reported using over the counter medicine to get high. But, officials with AFM say the results can be fatal. At least two people in the province have died due to ingesting large amounts of over the counter drugs.
"If you take too much or take it in combination with alcohol, it can depress the body too much, to the point you go into a coma and die,” said Sheri Fandrey from the AFM.
Some pharmacists try to prevent abuse by keeping drugs like Benadryl and Gravol locked up or behind the pharmacist's counter.
Dauphin pharmacist Barret Procyshyn conducts workshops for teens all over the province, warning them about the dangers of over the counter medications.
"Teens assume they're safe and they're not. That's a fact," said Procyshyn. "They're seeing this on YouTube and they're trying it, but I've been told by people the high isn't good and they got sick before they got high."
The mother said her son has since recovered from the overdose, but knows it could have been worse.
"Every parent needs to have this talk with their kids. Just because it's legal, doesn't mean it's safe."
In a statement, a spokesperson for McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson & Johnson Inc., the makers of Benadryl said it's deeply concerned about the misuse of the product and will flag videos on YouTube that represent inappropriate or dangerous use of Benadryl or any of its products.
Below is the full statement:
“McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson & Johnson Inc., maker of BENADRYL® is committed to providing safe and effective over the counter medicines and is deeply concerned about any misuse of its products. BENADRYL® is indicated for the relief of allergy symptoms due to hay fever or other allergic reactions and should not be used for any other purpose. We strongly recommend that consumers, parents and caregivers read the product labels on our medicines, follow the instructions and never exceed the recommended dose.
We were recently notified by a concerned parent that there are videos on YouTube representing inappropriate and dangerous misuse of over the counter medicines including BENADRYL®. As we are made aware of videos of this nature we follow the process outlined on the YouTube website, to flag them for their review and consideration for removal based on their community guidelines. We also encourage all consumers to notify YouTube via their flagging process, of any videos that they become aware of about dangerous or inappropriate use of any over the counter medicine. YouTube also has a Policy and Safety Hub with Policy, Safety and Reporting & Enforcement Centers on line to help YouTube users, including parents and their children learn about tools and resources for staying safe on YouTube and address safety concerns associated with posting these types of videos.”