There seems to be a perceived distinction between drugs, the illegal substances that people sell on street corners, and medication recommended by doctors to make sick people better. The truth is that all drugs are dangerous, even the ones that are taken for medical purposes. Sometimes, the use of medical intervention is not avoidable. Modern medicine provides cures for many conditions, relieves uncomfortable symptoms and prevents certain diseases from taking hold or worsening.
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Understanding that no drug is truly safe, you have to take responsibility for what you choose to put in your body. Over-the-counter medications are probably the most dangerous substances because they are easily accessible. A simple cold remedy can put you in the hospital, or worse, if you don’t follow the package dosing directions and apply some common sense.
Motion sickness is an issue commonly resolved with over-the-counter medication. If you are prone to nausea or vomiting on long trips, you’ve probably used Dramamine or some other brand of medicine designed to relieve the symptoms of motion sickness. However, did you read the label and understand the side effects could include drowsiness? Did you heed the warning not to drive or operate heavy machinery while taking that medication?
As with any drug, taking Dramamine, a brand name for dimenhydrinate, in larger doses or for longer periods of time than the package recommends is dangerous. The drug does what it’s supposed to do when taken correctly. It is your responsibility to protect yourself by following the instructions and not exceeding the recommended dosage. If you take it and then attempt to drive, you may fall asleep at the wheel.
Why Use Dimenhydrinate?
Dimenhydrinate helps to counteract nausea, dizziness and other unpleasant feelings triggered by the inner ear. People primarily take products containing dimenhydrinate when they are traveling, if driving, flying or cruising makes them ill. It is common for people prone to motion sickness to self-medicate based on past experience or the advice of friends. Dimenhydrinate is available on the market under various brand names:
Doctors might also prescribe dimenhydrinate for inner ear problems that affect balance, like Meniere’s disease. As an antihistamine, this drug blocks the histamine receptors known as H1. Histamine is a substance that causes inflammation. Since body balance is regulated in the inner ear, swelling in this area will cause dizziness and nausea. Dimenhydrinate keeps the brain from reading and reacting to the histamine messages, thereby preventing the swelling that causes dizziness.
Dimenhydrinate offers great relief to people who are prone to motion sickness and have to travel. This histamine some produce in their inner ear in response to motion is unnecessary. Similar to an allergic reaction, it warns the body and invokes reflexes to protect against a non-threatening condition. By blocking the histamine messages, dimenhydrinate saves the person from discomfort by inhibiting the dizziness and nausea reflex that would be excessive in this situation. Dimenhydrinate is meant to be used for a short period of time to relieve symptoms. Once the threat of motion sickness is over and the drug is no longer taken, the body goes back to regulating balance as normal.
Like all drugs, dimenhydrinate comes with side effects. These side effects are not dangerous under normal use, as long as label warnings are followed. Dimenhydrinate side effects include:
However, the side effects of dimenhydrinate can become dangerous if intensified with larger doses or prolonged use. Blurry vision or ringing in the ears can be tolerated for a short time, but the persistence of either symptom can interfere with normal daily functioning. Lack of coordination and dizziness are also symptoms that can lead to bigger problems. Some might also experience a pounding or racing heart beat as a side effect of dimenhydrinate. This requires immediate medical attention.
Dimenhydrinate should only be used according to package or doctor instructions for a short period of time. It is safe and effective under those conditions. Exceeding the recommended dosage or using the drug for non-medical purposes is dangerous and can lead to addiction or other serious complications.
Can Dimenhydrinate Be Addictive?
Dimenhydrinate is not known to be physically addictive. However, addiction is a complicated matter that many people do not fully understand. People can become addicted to seemingly harmless substances like sugar, healthful activities like exercise or even other people. What we do know is that addiction can be dangerous. In addition to the physical health implications, the psychological impact of addiction can ruin lives, families and careers.
For example, although it seems harmless, sugar is bad for your body — as any diabetic will tell you. Developing a sugar addiction can begin with a delicious piece of birthday cake. Since you liked the taste of the cake, you go back for another piece. When the cake is gone, you begin to crave other sweet foods because eating them gives you a little high. It makes you feel happy, gives a burst of energy and even satisfies your need for the “forbidden.” You eat more and more sweets, eventually starting your day with sweets and binging on them constantly.
Are sweets killing you? Maybe not by themselves, but they are replacing your appetite for nutritious food with junk. You’re getting more calories and fewer nutrients every day. You begin to gain weight, and eventually your body cannot process all the sugar you are taking in. That’s when diabetes can develop. Your sugar habit is now becoming life-threatening.
The difference between addiction to sugar and just bad eating habits can be easily demonstrated. When you try to adopt more healthy eating habits and cut out the sugar, you find it is difficult, maybe even impossible. You might be able to go without sugar for a few hours, but then the craving is so strong that you eat a donut. Addiction is a pattern of behavior that is difficult to change.
In this way, dimenhydrinate can definitely be addictive. Everyone who uses it does not become addicted, but the potential is there, especially for those who take large doses over long periods of time. If you develop a habit of taking dimenhydrinate, it will result in addiction. Whether you become physically addicted to it or not, you will become comfortable with the effect it has on you and turn to it more often.
If you take dimenhydrinate to sleep because it is the only way you can get a good night’s sleep, you're not going to want to give it up. Long term use of this drug is not advised. Chemical changes will occur in the central nervous system that could become damaging or irreversible. It is never a good idea to exceed the recommended dosage or length of treatment for any drug, even those available without a prescription.
Can Dimenhydrinate Get You High?
There are various anecdotal accounts of the effects of dimenhydrinate when taken in large doses. Some recreational users report hearing phantom sounds, seeing visions and other hallucinations. These users describe an enjoyable lack of feeling, like floating. Others experienced horror, terror and paranoia. Like all drugs, each personal experience is different. Dimenhydrinate abusers report a wide range of effects from the drug.
Teens tend to use drugs based on availability. Dramamine and other brand names of dimenhydrinate, are available at most drugstores and are relatively inexpensive. Teens can probably find medicine containing the substance in their family medicine chest, as well. While the recommended dose may only produce drowsiness, taken at 5-8 times the normal strength, it elicits stronger effects, like hallucinations.
Since dimenhydrinate blocks brain chemicals that carry messages of body balance, it is understandable that in large doses it could produce a dissociative feeling. It keeps the brain from accurately reading certain sensory messages from the body, so the user doesn’t really know if they are falling, for instance. The brain then doesn’t send the appropriate cues to trigger reflexes. It’s easy to understand the danger that a dimenhydrinate high imposes in the extreme.
Dimenhydrinate abuse is becoming more popular. Although the substance is not believed to be physically addicting, overdoses are turning up at emergency rooms more often and can be life-threatening. The teenage drug culture has added dimenhydrinate to its list of commonly abused substances by developing slang terms to refer to it, so they can communicate without the knowledge of parents and teachers.
Dimenhydrinate street names include:
If you live or work with teenagers, and you hear these terms in conversation, they are talking about the recreational use of dimenhydrinate. It may not be illegal, but it is dangerous.
Signs of dimenhydrinate addiction are easy to spot if you know what to look for. The drug causes drowsiness and a disruption of balance messages in the central nervous system. Signs of dimenhydrinate addiction include:
- Lethargy – Someone who is taking large or frequent doses of dimenhydrinate will sleep a lot. Even when not sleeping, they will seem lethargic, slow-moving, unenthusiastic and even depressed.
- Anti-social behavior – Dimenhydrinate addiction manifests in the desire to be alone. Activities with friends will suddenly seem too overwhelming.
- Paranoia – Dimenhydrinate is known to create hallucinations, and they are not always pleasant. The sense that someone is watching can persist after the drug has worn off. And, of course, in the case of someone abusing drugs, there is always the fear of getting caught.
- Secretive – Teens who abuse drugs like dimenhydrinate work hard at keeping their secret. They develop slang expressions for referring to drugs so that only others who are using understand what they are talking about. Secretive behavior can be a sign of drug abuse.
- Empty packages in the trash – A tell-tale sign of Dramamine addiction is the empty boxes in the trash can. If it’s hard to believe that someone would go through that much in such a short period of time, it’s probably drug abuse. It is definitely worth asking the question or having a talk about short-term use medications. If the problem persists, a doctor should be consulted.
Like any type of drug addiction, dimenhydrinate addiction should be taken seriously. It is a dangerous addiction that can ruin lives.
Dramamine Addiction Treatment
Like all other addictions, Dramamine addiction requires treatment consisting of detoxification and rehabilitation. Detoxing from Dramamine may result in few if any physical symptoms, but the mental part of the addiction can be very strong.
If you or someone you love is addicted to Dramamine, dimenhydrinate or any other substance, you need to contact 12 Keys right away. Addiction is a serious problem that requires the right treatment. The longer the drug abuse goes on, the stronger the addiction becomes. Addiction treatment does work, but it takes time. Why not start right now?
By contacting 12 Keys, you will begin a healing journey toward a happy, substance-free life. We can answer your questions about addiction and the various substances you may have come in contact with. We provide individualized treatment programs that address your unique situation, because everyone’s addiction is different. Give us a call today, and let’s begin this journey together.
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