Arizona poison experts warn of dangerous TikTok challenge

Data shows teens encouraging each other to ‘Benadryl Challenge’

Benadryl Challenge

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Banner Poison and Drug Information Center is warning the community about a potentially fatal challenge on TikTok involving over-the-counter medication.

The “Benadryl Challenge,” one of the latest trending fads on TikTok, is putting teen lives in danger. Teens are challenging each other to take enough of the Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine commonly used to treat seasonal allergies or allergic reactions, to hallucinate.

The warning from Arizona experts comes after an Oklahoma teen reportedly died after taking part in the challenge. In July, three teens in Texas were treated after ingesting excessive amounts of Benadryl.

“There’s no mystery here to what could happen, we’ve seen this so many times. We know,” said Dr. Steven Dudley, Director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

Since Jan. 1, the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center has received 380 exposure calls related to intentional ingestion of antihistamines. Nearly all required hospitalization in a critical care unit. Dr. Dudley said the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, which handles calls outside of Maricopa County, has recorded about 250 exposure calls since the beginning of the year.

“You’re much more likely to end up hospitalized because you have an abnormal heart rhythm, you have severe agitation, you’re confused, you have no idea where you’re at. You’ve seized, so you’ve had a seizure, a coma, you need to be intubated. Those things happen fairly frequently,” said Dr. Dudley. “So it’s not like a, ’you do this -- it’s for sure going to happen.’ It’s, ’you do this, you’re going to have a ton of unpleasurable effects and you might have some hallucinations.”

Dr. Dudley added those hallucinations may not be pleasant, either. He said there are hundreds of these kinds of exposures reported every year and not all are intentional abuse.

“Everything’s a poison, the dose makes a poison,” said Dr. Dudley. “It’s being promoted in such a way on social media, getting this widespread attention - which is definitely unfortunate.”

“We urge parents to be aware of these dangerous challenges on social media platforms, and to talk to your children about the risks of participating or encouraging other to participate,” warned Maureen Roland, RN, managing director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

If you or a loved one believe there has been an exposure to any poison, medication or chemical, please call the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. The poison centers can assist in evaluating and managing the situation, and help determine if it is necessary to seek additional medical attention.

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