Diphenhydramine Withdrawal: How To Stop Taking Benadryl?

Last Updated: July 16, 2020

Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

The use of Benadryl is relatively common among individuals experiencing allergy symptoms, but prolonged or heavy use of diphenhydramine may lead to dependence. When diphenhydramine withdrawal symptoms develop, the patient may experience a number of adverse effects. To avoid diphenhydramine HCL withdrawal symptoms, a person should understand how they need to stop using this medicine, especially after they have been using the drug for a more extended period.

How To Stop Taking Benadryl Correctly?

When a person stops using this particular medication, it is essential that certain factors are taken into account to avoid more significant diphenhydramine withdrawal symptoms. If a Benadryl dosage by weight was followed according to the recommendations provided by a physician, then the patient might be able to stop using the medication faster. In cases where a more significant dosage of the drug was taken on a daily basis, stopping the use of the drug may lead to severe antihistamine withdrawal symptoms, especially those related to drugs like Benadryl that can lead to psychological dependence.
In the study done by J Psychopharmacol, a female patient took almost 30 Benadryl tablets each day due to a dependency she developed on the side-effects of the drug. Side effects of Benadryl overdose can lead to life-threatening complications in some cases. The patient was, however, admitted to a Benadryl detox program and successfully recovered after her dosage was gradually reduced.

Don’t Stop Benadryl Cold Turkey

When one has developed a dependency on diphenhydramine or had an overdose recently, a sudden cessation can lead to a more significant severity of symptoms related to withdrawal. To minimize Benadryl withdrawals, it is essential that, in such a particular case, the dosage should be slowly reduced until the person has reached a minimum dose of the medication. Following this goal, a patient can stop taking the drug completely.

organizing benadryl pills to taper off gradually

When Benadryl has been used alongside another drug as part of the individual’s dependency problems, it is crucial to consider diphenhydramine drug interactions and the fact that stopping the use of the medication may be harder for the person.
When it comes to a question about Benadryl safeness during pregnancy, it is crucial to understand that the drug may have adverse effects in some cases. In such a case, the patient may wish to consult assistance to stop using the medication to avoid complications while the individual is pregnant.

Benadryl Withdrawal Symptoms

Each person may experience Benadryl withdrawal side effects in their own way. For some, withdrawal symptoms may be mild and easy to overcome. Other individuals, however, may find that these symptoms are severe and they could have a significant impact on the person’s daily life. When a person stops using a Benadryl pill for the side-effects that lead to drowsiness and possible euphoric experience, then several symptoms may occur.

Common Benadryl Withdrawal Side Effects

Some possible side effects during diphenhydramine withdrawal period that may occur in a person include:

  • Difficulty sleeping at night
  • Feeling restless consistently
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Some individuals also tend to experience cold sweats while they are withdrawing from the drug. In other people, a person may experience hot sweats instead. This can further contribute to insomnia that the individual is already suffering from due to withdrawal.

woman wipes sweat having benadryl withdrawal symptoms

It should also be noted that many Benadryl users may experience symptoms usually associated with a cold while they are going through the withdrawal stage after Benadryl cessation.
These withdrawal symptoms may occur with other types of antihistamines that cause similar side-effects as diphenhydramine as well. Thus, individuals seeking out Benadryl alternatives over the counter may continue to experience addiction if they give up this drug for another one that can have a similar effect on their body.

Undergoing Benadryl Withdrawal: What Does It Look?

Due to the symptoms associated with antihistamine withdrawal, including those individuals who developed a dependency on diphenhydramine, relapse is often possible. This is why professional help at a drug rehab might be an option that a patient should look at if they are struggling to overcome their substance abuse disorder.

woman undergoes session of rehab therapy

Professional help provided in either an outpatient or inpatient setting can offer the patient a better understanding of their addiction and how they can effectively recover. How long does it take for Benadryl to wear off? It usually depends on how severe the individual’s addiction is. A customized program can be developed for a specific person’s case.
While there are no medications that are officially used to treat Diphenhydramine addiction withdrawal, experts in the field of addictions would still be able to provide better help to the patient suffering from a substance abuse problem. Addiction treatment options, such as counseling or group therapy, can be provided.

Benadryl Withdrawal Warnings

While a person is going through the withdrawal and detoxification stages of Benadryl cessation, it is vital to take a few factors into account:

 doctor shows benadryl withdrawal warnings to patient

  • The individual should not allow themselves access to the drug, as this could trigger a relapse.
  • The use of alcohol consisting products and other potentially addictive substances should also be avoided during this period.
  • Going from the use of Benadryl toward alcohol, other types of pharmaceutical drugs, or perhaps illicit drugs would increase a person’s chance of just switching one addiction for another – causing them to get hooked on another substance to make up for the lack of diphenhydramine in their body.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18308811#

Published on: June 5th, 2019

Updated on: July 16th, 2020

About Author

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He is graduated from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and health care articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers.


Leave a comment

  • Corey Windom
    I took about 12 -14 50mg unison tablets each night for for almost 11 years and stopped a couple weeks ago. I have screwed up my sleep schedule and have had a runny nose for a few days but besides that I have not had to deal with anything to severe
  • Same Rizzoo
    I took Benadryl for the past 6 years. I took as many as three a day but sometimes would go days and weeks without taking any Benadryl and had no issues. All of a sudden I’m having anxiety that I have never faced Before, prior to my anxiety I didn’t use Benadryl for over two weeks. Can the anxiety be linked to Benadryl?
  • Bob
    I took about 34 Benadryl daily for ten years. It’s been 7 days since I stopped cold turkey and I’ve had no sleep at all with exception of an hour or so a night which is not restful, it’s a quick succession of bad dreams ..Sweating headache dizziness muscle aches and pain…it’s been hell. I began ten years ago trying to substitute something for my Xanax abuse which I thankfully came out of.(I would not compare this with drawl to that but it’s up there) I quickly had to increase the dosage which took a few years to reach the 34 I finally settled on down from my max of 40.. addiction is a hell I have no plans of returning to. I’m left counting down the days to feeling normal again.
  • Vitty
    My son use to take 20 in one seating. He’s been off for a day or two and wants to bang his head against a wall.. what can we do to ease this feeling to continue accidents of relapse?
    • Holly Weddle
      He probably can’t stay out of his head. People abuse substances because of their feelings. The physical is just a side effect of the bigger problem. Addicts are trying to avoid time with their thoughts. Painful as it can be, Counseling works wonders as it helps the patient to make sense of their life.
  • RT
    Was taking this to aid in sleep after stopping it had trouble sleeping and also having dreams that are violent and disturbing.
  • Carol english
    I was only taking 2 benadryl at night for my nasal drip when I stopped cold turkey my arms were so itchy it was driving me crazy I am now weaning myself off and getting itchy just a little.
  • Myron Stewart
    How long does it take for benadryl to live the system?
  • serena
    Hi I am drinking 125mls per day of cough bottle, it’s 14mg per 5mls spoonful. I need to stop but am afraid of having a seizure. I did stop before and was fine. More psychological thank physical I think – but this is going on a year now 🙁
    • Michelle
      It can definitely be more psychological than physical. Sometimes the mental addiction can be worse. Are you taking OTC NyQuil?
  • Michelle
    It absolutely blows my mind that withdrawals can be this severe from freaking Benadryl! I’ve been taking about 5-6 50 mg unisom off and on for a couple of years. I’m also prescribed Methadone and I kept feeling like I was going through methadone withdrawals while I was at work at night. I’d be drenched in sweat and freezing at the same time. Last week, I ran out of unisom and went about 4 days without it. I was so sick, throwing up, cold sweats and EXTREMELY depressed. I just laid there for days being nauseous and just wanted some sleep (I didn’t realize at this point that I was going through withdrawal from unisom) so I bought some unisom and within 10 minutes of taking it, I instantly felt better, my nausea went away immediately and I had amazing sleep for like 12 hours. That’s when I realized I was addicted to diphenhydramine. All this time, I was blowing money on buying extra Methadone because I thought that was the problem. Now, I just need to figure out how to taper and get off this crap. The withdrawals are horrible!!! Don’t ever take Benadryl or unisom for an extended period of time.
    • jonas Martin
      I’m in the same situation how have you been feeling lately can you get back to me so I can have someone to talk to that knows what I feel like.
    • KS
      This happened to me too. And I was taking a very low does – between half to a whole pill a night for sleep, on very rare occasions I would take two. Anyway, I decided to quit cold turkey after I read how bad it was to take anticholinergics every day. Quitting cold turkey was awful. I felt like I had the flu for about a week. Once that passed I had post acute withdrawal symptoms for freaking months. Totally sucked but made it through. Don’t ever take them again once you get through withdrawal
      • Myra
        Can you please tell me what your withdrawal symptoms were like , all of them ? I am having problems like , brain fog , muscle cramps and twitches along with tremors , nausea , confusion , short term memory loss , anxiety and depression because i am thinking if this isn’t withdrawal from long term use ( years ) then what it could be would be worse than withdrawals . And did they really last for months ?
  • Mark T
    I have been taking just one 25mg tablet a night for 3 years to sleep. Recently been getting episodes of anxiety, labored breathing, feeling hot with cold sweats. I didn’t understand what was happening until I found this site. Started to take 2 to relieve the symptoms. This can’t continue so I am going cold turkey. Last night was the first dpa free night. Got three hours of sleep. Symptoms not as severe so far especially now that I understand the situation. Not sure how long this will last. I will check back later.
    • Derek
      How are you doing now? Are you feeling any withdrawal symptoms today?
  • Bethany
    I’m young. I am 20 years old and to say I’ve battle addiction is sad, but I know several people me age are addicted and don’t want to admit it. I started abusing Benadryl when I was 17. I stopped because I was in high school and a senior and I wanted to graduate without regrets. At age 18 I picked it up again and didn’t stop until of recent. By the time I stopped I was taking 10 pills in one sitting and roughly 40 a day. I stopped because I have “my whole life ahead of me” and I don’t want to ruin my life before it can start. I’m nauseous, restless, full of fatigue and I have headaches. I’m glad I quit, and these withdrawal symptoms are something I never want to endure again. I want to continue fighting against addiction in age group but I do want to bring awareness to my age group because it is a problem. It is not easy but worth it.
  • Brittany
    I was prescribed ambien 5mg 6 yrs ago and quickly realized it was a terrible drug for me. I weaned myself off and tapered into zzquil liquid gels. I started at 3 pills which naturally rose to 5 -6 a night. Now 4 yrs later im trying to stop and I tapered down one pill every 5 days until I wasn’t on it anymore. Friday night was my first night clean and it was the beginning of a very horrible withdrawal episode. I woke up the next more running for the bathroom, vomiting, vertigo, hot flashes, cold sweats, yelling at my husband, not being able to keep food down or having an appetite for that matter and the dreadful runny nose. Its Monday and I’m still having dizzy spells, I haven’t eaten a meal since Friday but I am drinking bone broths and saltine crackers here and there. I do have the edge to eat but I’m traumatized from Saturdays ordeal. I am staying hydrated and meditating for the mood swings but no luck on sleep. I sleep for 2 hrs max which is filled with overheating and tossing and turning and I can’t get out of bed for more than 30 min without spiraling and feeling like s**t. I tried to stay out of my room but even laying in the couch gets intolerable emotionally. Can someone give me some advice or tips and tricks. Please!
  • Danielle C
    Wow♥️I had no idea this was a real thing .I’ve been taking benadryl 2-3 tabs twice a night ,then 2 tabs every day at nap time for naptime for over 10 years. I’ve been having lots of health problems lately. &some other odd symptoms, extreme constipation, bloating ,anxiety, just feeling off and sick and weak.ive no idea why or how but somehow it popped into my head yesterday, to google if there are long term effects of taking benadryl. I was shocked when I found out how bad it is for my body. I sat &cried&prayed ,&I never want to take it again. I have severe PTSD, i used benadryl as an otc sleep aid to help my insomnia. I sit now &think wow ,I’m putting myself at high risk of alzheimers just so I can sleep ?no way…I gotta be done …&honestly I’m so disgusted with it all ,bc I literally have all the symptoms. &idk what to do or who to talk to.but I didnt take benadryl last night for the first time in years &maybe it’s just me ,but I think I can already feel a slight difference. I wish there was a support group or something. I wish I felt comfortable talking to my sister or friends about it ,but to me it just seems like no one could understand. Bc really ,saying “I’m dependent on benadryl &I’m experiencing extreme side effects “sounds ridiculous. I cant say how much its helping me just posting this comment &reading other peoples comments .There should definitely be more awareness of this.I hope I havent caused irreversible damage. Please,does anyone know, do the effects wear off all the way ?thanks so much for letting me ramble ,ty so much for this forum.i feel lost .
    • Myra
      Please tell in detail what your withdrawal symptoms were like ? Thank you .
  • Shawn J May
    I’ve been taking Benadryl for like 15 years first started out with 50 mg all the way up to 250 mg per night I was totally addicted then I stopped. Within 48 hours I had nightmarish evil vocal hallucinations where I physically felt a presence that wasn’t there heard evil voices that weren’t there and felt like something was crawling up the bed right next to me. This has happened to me at least five to ten times since I’ve tried to take myself off of this medication. If I’d known that coming off of Benadryl was going to make me feel psychotic I never would have taken it in the first place. But it is my fault because I’ve used and abused the quantity in the dosage. So I tried to force myself to stay up because voices, as soon as I drift off to sleep and then have these crazy voices wake me up by abruptly. This is unbelievable and I wonder why this is happening to me. Guess I just want to know is who’s normally heard of it before anybody else experienced it that you know of