Is It Safe to Mix Benadryl and Alcohol?

Allergies are a real bummer. They make your nose drip, your eyes itch, and your throat tickle with that nagging cough that is sometimes enough to drive you crazy. In your desperation for relief, you might turn to Benadryl, the most famous (and the most effective) drug for combating allergies. As you sit and wait for the medication to take its effect, you might be tempted to pour yourself a glass of wine. Maybe, the Benadryl makes you feel better, and you decide to go to that party you were invited to and have a couple of drinks. Think twice before you make this mistake. You are personally responsible for what you put into your body, and you need to pay attention to the ways different substances interact. Is it safe to mix Benadryl and alcohol? No, it is not, and you should not do it under any circumstances.

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl, the brand name of a drug called diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine, meaning it helps control the functioning of the compound histamine in the body. Histamine causes your body to react to allergies with standard systems like coughing and a runny nose. By voiding the histamine’s activation of these symptoms, the antihistamine makes the body more comfortable while fighting off an allergy.

Benadryl is an over the counter drug, meaning you can buy it at the pharmacy or a supermarket without a prescription. This ease of access makes it a lot more convenient to fight off seasonal allergies, but it also suggests that Benadryl is relatively harmless. It is a powerful drug with harsh, dangerous side effects, especially if its use is combined with alcohol consumption.

Why is Mixing Benadryl and Alcohol Unsafe?

Both Benadryl and alcohol are depressants, meaning that they slow down the functioning of your central nervous system (which consists of your brain and your spinal cord). With Benadryl, this comes as no surprise, since drowsiness is a common side effect. However, in the case of alcohol, people often mistakenly believe it is a stimulant because of the euphoric sensations and lively behavior it seems to cause. It is essential always to remember that alcohol is, in fact, a depressant, and treat it as such.

Taking Benadryl and consuming alcohol simultaneously works as a double whammy on your central nervous system. Simultaneously stricken with two different depressants, the central nervous system becomes overwhelmed. Some studies even suggest that alcohol serves to enhance the effects of Benadryl. The result is extreme drowsiness and fatigue. The brain becomes incapable of easy tasks, and motor ability is significantly reduced.

This excessive drowsiness can make ordinary tasks of everyday life dangerous. Driving under such conditions, for example, is extremely hazardous and comes with a severe risk of accidents. Other seemingly simple tasks, from preparing yourself dinner to taking a bath, also become dangerous when your brain is so significantly impaired.

Driving: Especially Risky

It is important to note that driving is a terrible idea for anyone who has ingested both alcohol and Benadryl. You might think it is okay to have taken Benadryl for your allergies and then stop for just a single beer at a local bar on your drive home from work. While this might not appear to be especially extreme behavior, in reality, it is hazardous.

Benadryl itself is already enough of a risk behind the wheel, with some studies suggesting that it is more dangerous than alcohol even on its own. Once you add a little alcohol to your system, you are setting off a chain reaction in your body that will significantly increase the danger.

Additional Risks for Seniors

Seniors seem to be especially susceptible to the effects of Benadryl. This means that drinking on Benadryl is even more dangerous for older adults. A lack of motor ability and dizziness is also a riskier proposition for the elderly because it increases the chance of falling. A poor decision to mix alcohol and Benadryl can be the first mistake in a series of misadventures that results in a serious (or even deadly) accident.

Awareness of Alcohol in Unsuspected Substances

So now you know not to drink alcoholic beverages while you’re taking Benadryl for your allergies. But even that is not enough awareness to keep you entirely in the clear. It is also essential to recognize what substances contain alcohol besides alcoholic drinks. Some medications, including laxatives and cough syrup, contain alcohol. There are some drugs for which alcohol even makes up ten percent of their total mass. Taking these medications, along with Benadryl, can be as dangerous as washing your allergy medicine down with a bottle of wine. If you are going to be taking other medications along with the Benadryl, read the labels carefully to make sure they don’t contain alcohol. If you have any doubts about whether a drug can be taken simultaneously with Benadryl, contact your doctor. This is a situation where it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Potential for Polysubstance Abuse

Some individuals may take Benadryl and use alcohol simultaneously intentionally, hoping to experience the doubling of depressants as a sort of high. This is highly dangerous, not just because of the drowsiness such behavior causes, but also because both substances are potentially addictive. Once an addiction to this dangerous mixture is developed, it might be impossible to overcome it without rehab. In extreme cases, individuals may even up their dosage until overdose and death become real possibilities. Such a pattern of behavior should be strenuously avoided.

Overcoming Addiction

If you are addicted to Benadryl and alcohol, you should reach out for help before it is too late. A rehabilitation program can get you sober and on the path toward recovery. From hospitalization to outpatient care, there are plenty of options that can help overcome this nasty addiction. Addiction is devastating, but there is always a way out.


Benadryl is a useful drug, helping millions of people overcome the obnoxious symptoms of seasonal allergies every year. As helpful and popular as it is, its ubiquity should not be mistaken for benignity. Benadryl is highly potent, with severe effects on the central nervous system. When mixed with alcohol, the dangers of Benadryl are even more pronounced.

Feel free to use Benadryl to fight your allergies, but do it with caution and a healthy respect for the drug’s destructive potential. Never mix Benadryl and alcohol, especially in an intentional search for pleasure. If you are anyone you know suffers from addiction to this deadly cocktail of substances, seek help immediately. Benadryl might be sold over the counter, but it’s far from perfectly safe.