Benadryl® and Alcohol
- Benadryl® is an over-the-counter antihistamine used in the treatment of allergies.
- Both alcohol and Benadryl® have sedative effects.
- Taking both of these substances together can cause intensified effects, health problems, and even addiction.
For those with seasonal allergies, Benadryl® is often a must-have to alleviate aggravating symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and watery, itchy eyes. But, for those who also drink alcohol, there can be potential ramifications when taking these two substances concurrently.
Here’s what you should know about taking Benadryl® and alcohol together.
How Do Benadryl® and Alcohol Interact?
Benadryl®, also known as diphenhydramine, is an over-the-counter antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system.
When Benadryl® and alcohol are in an individual’s system simultaneously, the sedative effects of both substances can be intensified. This combination of substances can lead to increased drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination, as well as physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, and decreased blood pressure.
Benadryl and alcohol together can also be risky for individuals with liver or kidney disease, heart disease, or sleep apnea.
What is the Half Life of Benadryl®? What is the Half Life of Alcohol?
Benadryl® has a half-life of 3.4 to 9.2 hours with a peak time of 2 hours. The body then begins to excrete it through the urine, ridding the body of the substance completely in about 2 days. Alcohol has a half life of four to five hours, and is fully excreted by the body in around 25 hours.
How Long After Taking Benadryl® Should I Wait Before Drinking Alcohol?
Whether you are taking Benadryl® or another antihistamine medication such as Zyrtec®, Claritin®, Allegra®, or a prescription allergy medication, it is best to abstain from alcohol until the medication has been flushed from your system. This process takes approximately two days. Therefore, it is recommended that you wait a minimum of two days after taking your last dose of antihistamine before consuming alcohol.
Can Drinking Alcohol while Taking Benadryl® Cause Liver Damage?
Both alcohol and Benadryl® can individually cause liver damage, and when they are taken together, the risk of liver damage can increase significantly.
Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, and excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage or even liver failure. Benadryl® contains an active ingredient called diphenhydramine, which is also metabolized in the liver. When Benadryl® and alcohol are taken together, they can overwhelm the liver’s metabolic capacity, leading to liver damage.
Can Combining Benadryl® and Alcohol Cause Heart Problems?
Benadryl® is an antihistamine medication that can cause changes in heart rhythm, especially at high doses. Alcohol, on the other hand, can also affect heart rhythm and increase the risk of arrhythmias.
Combining Benadryl® and alcohol can further increase the risk of heart problems such as palpitations, irregular heartbeat, or even heart attack in some cases.
Can Taking Benadryl® and Drinking Alcohol Together Cause Seizures?
Yes, taking Benadryl® and drinking alcohol together can cause seizures. Both Benadryl® and alcohol can individually lower the seizure threshold, and when taken together, they can increase the risk of seizures.
Benadryl® is an antihistamine medication that can cause sedation and drowsiness, especially at high doses. Alcohol, on the other hand, can also cause sedation and impair cognitive function. When taken together, they can further enhance the sedative effect and increase the risk of seizures.
Can Benadryl® and Alcohol Cause Stomach Bleeding?
Benadryl® and alcohol can cause stomach bleeding, as both substances can individually irritate the stomach lining and increase the risk of bleeding. Therefore, it’s important to avoid combining Benadryl® and alcohol to reduce the risk of stomach bleeding.
How does Drinking Alcohol Affect the Sedative Effects of Benadryl®?
Drinking alcohol can enhance the sedative effects of Benadryl®, as both substances can individually cause sedation and impair cognitive function. Therefore, it’s important to avoid drinking alcohol while taking Benadryl®, as it can increase the risk of excessive sedation.
Can Taking Benadryl® and Drinking Alcohol Lead to Addiction?
Taking Benadryl® and drinking alcohol together can lead to addiction, as both substances can individually cause addiction , and when taken together, they can increase the risk of addiction.
Should Someone With Alcohol Use Disorder Take an Antihistamine?
If you are suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder and are having difficulties with abstaining from alcohol, it is not recommended that you take antihistamines.
If you are suffering from allergy symptoms and have decided to attempt to stop drinking while you are taking the medication, speak to your doctor right away. Depending on the severity of your addiction, ceasing alcohol use immediately can be just as dangerous –and sometimes more so– than combining the two substances.
Treating Alcohol and Other Substance Addiction
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of addiction to alcohol, Benadryl®, or other antihistamines or substances, you are not alone–and help IS available.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Benadryl® and Alcohol
More answers to some of the most common questions about taking Benadryl® and alcohol together.
Even the smallest amounts of alcohol consumed alongside Benadryl® can intensify the effects of both substances, putting you at risk. Skip the glass of wine or beer with dinner if you have taken (or plan to take) any type of antihistamine.
If you have an existing medical condition or are on regular medications, it is important to check with your pharmacist or provider prior to taking Benadryl® or drinking alcohol.
Benadryl® and alcohol have known interactions with certain types of medications which can exacerbate existing conditions and put you at risk for a medical emergency.
Below, we’ve compiled a chart of some of the most common types of medication and their potential interactions with Benadryl® or alcohol.
|Medication||Known Alcohol Interactions||Known Benadryl® Interactions|
|Painkillers (aspirin, ibuprofen)||Yes||No|
This list is not all inclusive and is not meant to take the place of the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Every medication and every individual is different. Speak with your doctor prior to taking Benadryl® or drinking alcohol if you are on any type of medication.
It is never advisable to consume alcohol and Benadryl® at the same time, and this is especially true for those who have pre-existing medical conditions. The combination of Benadryl® and alcohol may worsen your medical condition, especially if it involves the heart, liver, or kidneys.
Both alcohol and Benadryl® can alter mood, both when taken together and separately. When taken concurrently, changes in behavior and mood swings may be intensified.
This response can range from mild to extreme, especially in those who experience paradoxical excitation when taking Benadryl®, which is when an expected response to a medication occurs. With Benadryl®, paradoxical excitation may cause irritability, excitement, nervousness, and anxiety.
Benadryl® and alcohol both lead to dehydrations. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, headaches, confusion, thirst, pale skin, and lethargy. When alcohol and Benadryl® are taken together, these effects can be amplified.
It is possible for a combination of Benadryl® and alcohol to result in hallucinations and delusions especially if a higher dose is taken. If you or someone you know has taken these two substances together and is experiencing signs and symptoms of hallucinations, contact emergency services right away, as this can be a sign of an overdose.
Non-alcoholic beer and wine are generally safe for those who are taking Benadryl®. However, read your labels carefully to ensure that your beverages are truly alcohol-free.
Taking Benadryl® with alcohol can increase drowsiness and fatigue as well as lower blood pressure, particularly when taken at higher doses. This mixture can result in an individual passing out. It’s important to use these substances responsibly and to avoid using a vehicle or operating other heavy machinery while under the influence of one of both of these substances.
 NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526010/
 hollowc2. (2023, March 22). How long does alcohol stay in your system? Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-long-does-alcohol-stay-in-your-system