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Dramamine Addiction, Side Effects and Treatment

Dramamine addiction is becoming much more common than most people realize. This medication can easily be purchased at most pharmacies, grocery stores and other retailers. The ease of obtaining it is one reason why it is becoming so popular; especially among younger people.

Like other over the counter medications, Dramamine can be dangerous when it is being misused. Abusing this drug is likely to lead to an addiction, and its side effects are quite alarming.

Many people are addicted to this drug without realizing it. Those that do realize they have addictions may feel stuck, and have no idea how to stop. Fortunately, help is available to anyone who has been abusing Dramamine, and it is possible to recover.

What is Dramamine?

Dramamine’s chemical or generic name is Dimenhydrinate. It is an antihistamine medication that is available over the counter. This drug is recommended only for short-term use. In fact, when it is used appropriately, an on as-needed basis, it can be quite effective.

Dramamine is marketed under several different brand names all over the world. These include:

  • Driminate in the Ukraine
  • Gravol in India and Canada
  • Gravamin in Iceland
  • Dramina in Russia and Croatia
  • Vomex in Germany and South Africa
  • Vertirosan in Australia and Austria

It is available in both tablet form and in liquid form. In the United States, most people purchase it as tablets.

Primarily, Dramamine is recommended for treating symptoms of discomfort that are caused by motion sickness. It works well for reducing nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Some doctors will also recommend it for treating ear congestion. It does have a sedation effect, and people who use it are warned not to drive or operate heavy machinery.

It is very common for people to take this medication before long car rides, boat rides, or when flying. But there are other reasons doctors may recommend it, or even prescribe it, in some cases. It can also be used to treat vertigo. Dramamine may also be an effective treatment for opiate addiction to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

When Dramamine is being abused, people usually refer to it by various street names. They include:

  • Dime
  • Drama
  • D-House
  • Drams
  • Substance D
  • Dime Tabs
  • D-Q

It is very common for people to use phrases like, “I’m dramatizing” or “I’m going a dime a dozen” when abusing this drug. These terms confuse others, but for those who understand what they mean, they are a way of communicating the type of drug being used.

When this medication is used as it is intended, the risk of getting addicted is almost non-existent. But people who abuse it as a way to get high will typically take more tablets than they should at one time. As we mentioned earlier, the phrase “a dime a dozen” is one that many abusers will use. It means that they are taking 12 of the tablets at one time.

Dramamine can lead to hallucinations in higher dosages. People tend to see and hear things that are not there. They may even become delusional, and the euphoria they experience can become very addicting.

On the website Erowid, one user describes his use of Dramamine. He states, “Weirdly enough, the bizarre truth about these OTC medications is that they are very powerful psychoactive drugs when taken in sufficient quantities.”

The Role of Dopamine in Addiction

Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that causes people to feel happy. It’s typically experienced whenever something good happens, such as having a good meal. This chemical plays a critical role in forming addictions.

When someone abuses medications like Dramamine, the result is an increase in the brain’s dopamine levels. That increase leads to feelings of euphoria, and people tend to want to repeat the action to get that feeling again.

After some time has passed with repeated use of Dramamine, the abuser’s brain goes through significant changes. It is no longer able to produce dopamine on its own, and it relies on the drug for that job. This is why so many people state that they do not feel like themselves of they are not using.

Dramamine may be an OTC drug, but it is highly addictive when it is abused. Also, there is no definite timeframe of when the addiction might occur. It is different for everyone.

OTC Medication Statistics in the United States

The number of people using over the counter medications in our country is quite alarming. Statistics tell us that:

  • In 2009, 66% of people used OTC medications to treat allergy symptoms.
  • By 2015, that had gone up to 75%.
  • People take close to 3 billion trips to retail stores to purchase OTC drugs.
  • On average, each American household spends approximately $340 every year on these medications.
  • Close to seven out of ten parents have given OTC medications to their children late at night to treat various symptoms.
  • 81% of adults will reach for these drugs as a first response to minor ailments.
  • There are more than 750,000 retail outlets in the United States that sell OTC products.

It is shocking how many people are using these medications. But these numbers also indicate that the amount of people abusing them must be high as well. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine provides the following statistics:

  • In one study of deaths from unintentional drug poisonings in New Mexico, 0.9% of them were due to overdosing on OTC drugs.
  • Patients who are prone to suicide are more likely to overdose on OTC medications than other drugs.
  • In one study in California, 16.2% of people admitted to misusing OTC drugs.
  • That is more than half the number of people who admitted to abusing prescription medications.
  • Many people will resort to abusing these drugs when their primary drug of choice is not available.

Dramamine in the News: Should Parents be Concerned?

Antihistamines (like Dramamine) generally have a reputation of being safe. That reputation is one reason why most people do not recognize how addictive they can be.

Some parents will give these medications to their children in an attempt to help them go to sleep. Because of its sedative properties, it does make people sleepy. But too much could be dangerous, which is something many people do not realize.

ABC News interviewed Dr. Kirsten Bechtel, who is an associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. She is also the cofounder of the State of Connecticut’s Child Fatality Review Panel. She reports that over the last year, there have been at least four infant/toddler deaths in the state because of toxicity linked to antihistamines.

One online poll found that around one in five mothers had given their children medications like Dramamine to help them fall asleep. That poll also found that 12% of the mothers regularly dosed their children with antihistamine medications.

This medication should not be used regularly, regardless of someone’s age. But this story only indicates how dangerous Dramamine and other antihistamines truly are.

The Side Effects of Dimenhydrinate

Dimenhydrinate carries many side effects. Most of these are minor, and may even go away with continued use of the drug. But there are some potentially dangerous ones as well.

When most people start taking Dramamine, they may experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry throat and nose
  • Thickening mucus in the throat or nose
  • Sleepiness
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation

Occasionally, this medication can lead to some serious side effects. They can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Problems with urination
  • Seizures/convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Decreased alertness
  • Agitation
  • A fast or irregular heart rate

It is possible to be allergic to Dramamine as well. An allergic reaction will result in symptoms such as:

  • An itchy or painful rash
  • Hives
  • Problems with breathing
  • Swelling in the face, mouth, lips, tongue or throat
  • Tightness in the chest

Any serious side effects or symptoms of an allergic reaction need to be reported to a doctor right away. They should not be ignored, and the medication should be immediately discontinued.

When someone is abusing Dramamine, the side effects they experience will be magnified. This is because they are usually taking more of the medication than they should. Because of this, the effects on the body and mind can be severe.

Most people will suffer from extreme mood changes and confusion. Any current issues with anxiety and/or depression are likely to be worsened. People can have trouble with urination and they may develop tremors. They may suffer from heartbeat irregularities, and they can even begin having seizures.

The longer a person abuses Dramamine, the more serious the effects can become. Let us examine the differences in the short and long-term effects.

When an individual first begins abusing Dramamine, the effects of the drug may be minimal. They usually increase in severity as time goes on.

The short-term effects of the drug include:

  • Blurry vision or double vision
  • A euphoric high
  • Itchy skin
  • Significant drowsiness
  • Mental health changes

People are also likely to experience many of the above-mentioned side effects. As use continues, they may also have some of the more serious effects of this medication.

Someone who is abusing Dramamine, and has been for a long time, puts themselves at great risk for serious side effects and complications. This medication may be available over the counter, but it should never be thought of as “safe” for that reason.

Some of the long-term effects and risks include:

  • Frequent or even constant muscle spasms
  • Nervous system depression
  • The risk of heart problems
  • A very high risk of a heart attack
  • The risk of a stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Kidney failure with continued use
  • Bleeding and/or ulcers in the stomach

These are not warnings that are found on the bottle when purchasing Dramamine. Clearly, the risks outweigh any perceived benefits that may be gained from the high people get when abusing it.

The Dramamine High

As we mentioned earlier, getting high on Dramamine means taking extremely large amounts of the drug. This leads to a type of euphoria and it can even cause hallucinations.

Some users report feeling a sensation of being “stoned,” much like they would with marijuana or other similar drugs. On the website, Reddit, one user described his experience with Dramamine:

“My legs were heavy and I was just staring into space. My vision started to blur. It took about an hour and a half for the actual trip to start. But when it did, that’s when the infamous spiders appeared. They were all over the sidewalk. Then the voices. The voices were voices that I didn’t recognize. I couldn’t tell what they were saying because there were so many of them talking at once. Then they started calling my name. This was when I started to get really scared. I was walking home and when I got to my house, I saw ghosts sitting on my front lawn. There were about 6 or 7. Just sitting Indian style, some on one knee, just on my lawn.”

He goes on to describe other graphic things that he saw, including his room, which was covered in bugs. But the end result was that he took 500mg of Dramamine and he got scared. He saw some weird stuff, but he had fun.

How Does Abuse Lead to Addiction?

It is difficult to say how one instance of abuse can lead to an addiction. But many people may continue to use Dramamine simply because they are curious about what happens next. Seasoned drug abusers may understand that the images they see are not real. They might be interested to see what new visions their minds will come up with.

Most people who misuse Dramamine are only doing it to experience the psychedelic drug trip that follows. They fail to recognize that they are actually playing with a drug that can be highly addictive.

Dramamine Addiction and Treatment Options

Recognizing an Addiction to Dramamine

Dramamine addiction may be one of the strangest addictions most people have ever heard of. But the reality is that it is very real, and more prevalent today than ever before.

Unfortunately, people often do not realize that they are addicted. They may think they choose to use a drug, instead of understanding that they feel they need it. This is called being in denial.

It is very helpful for some people to take an addiction quiz. This quiz can identify some of the common signs of addiction, and also point out the type of treatment that may be necessary. It can also be helpful to see a list of the most common signs of addiction.

Signs of Addiction

There are several signs and symptoms of addiction that people can look for in their own lives. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, they include:

  • Losing control over the drug use. This includes how much they use, or how often they use.
  • Spending less time on activities that once used to be important in favor of using drugs.
  • Taking risks (which may sometimes be very dangerous) in order to obtain a drug.
  • Struggling with relationships due to acting out behaviors
  • Using in secret, or going out of one’s way to hide the amount of drugs being consumed.
  • Frequently dealing with injuries or accidents that were the result of drug use.
  • Significant changes in appearance and personal hygiene.
  • Feeling the need to use larger amounts of a substance to get high. This is called forming a tolerance to it.
  • Going through withdrawal when the drug is stopped or tapered down.
  • Continuing to use even though it is resulting in negative consequences, such as job loss, relationship problems or medical issues.

Another tell-tale sign of addiction is having the desire to stop using, but being unable to. Sometimes people try to quit using Dramamine on their own, but they simply cannot do it. They may experience severe withdrawal symptoms that drive them back to the drug right away.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Dimenhydrinate?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on Dimenhydrinate, and some people do for one of two reasons.

An overdose can occur when someone is using the drug excessively for the first time. This means taking more than the bottle recommends in one sitting. Many people who choose to abuse this drug – but are not familiar with the effects of it – overdose in this way.

The second most common way to overdose on Dramamine is to attempt to stop using it and then suffer from a relapse. When people relapse on drugs, they usually continue using the same amount they were prior to quitting. Some people may even use more in an attempt to get high quicker. They do not realize that their tolerance levels have dropped, and that amount is now lethal.

During a Dramamine overdose, several systems of the body are impacted. The vascular system, ENT, the nervous system and the urinary system can all be affected.

The signs of a Dramamine overdose can include:

  • Extremely low blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Delirium
  • Problems with urination
  • A severe increase in heart rate
  • Extreme fatigue and sleepiness
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Increased anxiety and nervousness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vision abnormalities
  • Tremors and/or seizures

The individual may fall into a coma and become unresponsive. This is an emergency situation, and it is important to note that the person will not be able to just “sleep it off.” They must be taken by ambulance to an emergency room right away.

Options for Quitting Dramamine

Once many people realize they are addicted to Dramamine, their first goal is to get off it. They can do this in a few different ways, although not all of the following are recommended.

For some drugs, it is acceptable to quit using the cold turkey method. Marijuana is often used as an example because the physical withdrawal symptoms are minimal. The same is not true for a medication like Dramamine.

People tend to prefer the thought of quitting cold turkey for a number of reasons. Many want to be able to say that they did it without anyone’s help. It makes them feel heroic, and that is a desirable feeling. Others may think that it would be easier just to get the quit over with and get through withdrawal fast.

Quitting Dramamine cold turkey is very difficult. More often than not, people who attempt this method fail.

There is a lot of information online about self-detoxing off drugs at home. Websites recommend all kinds of products, from drug detox kits to supplements, vitamins and drinks.

While it sounds good, detoxing from drugs at home is never a good idea. As of right now, there are no FDA approved products for this purpose. At the very least, a doctor should be consulted prior to starting any type of natural detox.

The complications that can accompany withdrawal are very real, and they can be extremely dangerous. This is something that everyone should consider prior to taking matters into their own hands.

Entering into a drug rehab to get help with Dramamine addiction is the best way to recover. This is both a mental and a physical addiction, and both aspects of it need to be addressed. Otherwise, the person could be taking serious risks that may result in complications that would require medical treatment.

A drug like Dramamine requires a two-step approach in order for recovery to be successful. Professional help is necessary because it offers the best form of support available.

Does Quitting Dramamine Result in Withdrawal Symptoms?

Yes. Someone who is addicted to Dramamine is very likely to experience withdrawal when they stop taking it. This is because of the way the mind and the body become dependent upon the medication.

Over time, the individual taking Dramamine gets used to having the normal dosage daily. Once it is stopped, the mind and body do not know how to respond. This is why uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms develop. They will resolve in time, but it is much easier on the person if they receive the proper treatment.

Dimenhydrinate Withdrawal

Some of the more common Dimenhydrinate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • An upset stomach
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Physical weakness
  • Shakiness
  • Intense cravings for the drug

The Withdrawal Timeline

Typically, the first few days of withdrawal are the worst. People with Dramamine addictions might expect the drug withdrawal timeline to look similar to this:

  • Symptoms tend to start out mild. Only a few signs of withdrawal might be present for the first 12 hours or so.
  • By the end of the first 24 hours, withdrawal symptoms should be evident. They probably will not be too severe until the second day.
  • By the second day, withdrawal should begin to get more severe. This should continue until around the end of the third day.
  • By the fourth day, some of the signs of withdrawal should begin to dissipate. But some symptoms will most likely linger.
  • Symptoms should continue to diminish until the end of the seventh day. After that point, the individual should be feeling quite a bit better.

Detoxing From Dramamine

drug detox program is an essential part of recovering from a Dramamine addiction. This is a process that allows the body to get used to what it feels like without the drug. Various withdrawal treatments are provided to the patient to help with the symptoms.

There are typically two types of detox that many programs use today. They are medical and holistic detox.

Medical Detox Programs

Medical detox involves the use of medications to help people through the initial recovery process. Different medications may be chosen, depending on specific symptoms. For someone who is detoxing from Dramamine, for example, they may take an antidepressant and a blood pressure medication. Additional drugs may be chosen, based on the patient’s specific needs.

Holistic Detox

Holistic detox is also an important part of recovery. This involves the use of non-medical methods to help remove toxins from the body that are associated with the person’s substance abuse.

One of the biggest components of holistic detox is nutrition. Many people will meet with a nutritionist to assess their dietary needs. Changes can be made to improve the overall health of the liver and kidneys, which are responsible for detoxing the body.

Your Options for Rehab

Once the detox portion of recovery has been completed, it is essential to move on to the next part, which is drug rehab. This is the component that will address the reasons behind the addiction. If the patient is suffering from any co-occurring disorders that may have contributed to the addition, those will be diagnosed. Proper treatment will also be offered at that time.

There are different types of rehab. It is important for everyone with an addiction to choose the method of recovery that will work the best for them.

An inpatient treatment program is an excellent choice for someone with a Dramamine addiction. This form of rehab means staying in a facility for around 28 days. Detox is included in this timeframe.

During rehab, patients receive many different forms of therapy. They should have treatment plans that have been specifically tailored to meet their needs.

Outpatient rehab is very common, but most experts agree that it might not be right for someone new to treatment. This mainly involves meeting one on one with a therapist, although some programs do also offer group counseling sessions.

This form of treatment is excellent for someone in need of follow-up. For those who cannot commit to an inpatient rehab, there is an alternative that offers intensive care.

For many people, intensive outpatient treatment is an excellent option for drug rehab. Patients are able to live at home and they attend their appointments regularly throughout the week.

An IOP will involve both individual therapy sessions and group therapy. There may also be other events or activities as well. Research shows that for many people, IOPs are just as effective as inpatient programs.

Types of Therapies Used to Treat Addiction

There are many different forms of therapy that are used to treat addiction. Among the most common are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This type of therapy was developed as a way to prevent alcoholics from relapsing. It was later adapted for other types of addictions. People receiving CBT learn how to identify and correct destructive behaviors by utilizing new skills.
  • Group Therapy – Group therapy allows multiple patients to receive counseling from their peers. Groups can be focused in one specific area, or they can cover a multitude of topics. Patients are able to provide help to each other, and it has been shown to be very effective.
  • Family Therapy – For anyone with a drug addiction, their close relationships with their family members are often strained. This is why family therapy is so important. It allows issues to be worked out and provides a way for families to resolve their differences and reconcile.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy – Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is an approach that assists patients in seeing a need for treatment. It provides internally motivated changes and helps the patient to create a plan for a change in their life.
  • 12-Step Programs – 12-Step programs are probably the most popular method of treating addictions. This method is commonly used in groups like Narcotics Anonymous because it is so effective. It involves group therapy sessions and the patients help each other meet goals through each step in the program.
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Take the Next Step to Recover From Your Dramamine Addiction

If you are suffering from a Dramamine addiction, please know that you are not alone. So many people assume this medication is safe, even if they abuse it. We have talked about the dangers associated with misusing this drug, along with the potential side effects; both short and long-term. You may be addicted now, but that is not where you need to remain.

At Northpoint Washington, we offer a treatment program that can help you recover. It will involve both detox and rehab, and you will have support every step of the way. You may be struggling to make the decision to get help for your addiction, and we completely understand that. Just know that while it will be challenging, it will also be very rewarding once you recover.

Do you have questions about Dramamine addiction or your treatment options? We are here to answer them for you. Please contact us today.

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