What Is Benzedrex (Propylhexedrine) Misuse?

If you suffer from frequent nasal congestion, you are probably familiar with the Benzedrex inhaler. Benzedrex (propylhexedrine) is a safe and effective medication when used as directed; however, it can be misused.

This page will discuss Benzedrex, how it’s used, the risks and effects of misuse, and how to get help if you’re struggling with dependence or Benzedrex addiction.

What Is Benzedrex (Propylhexedrine)?

Benzedrex is a brand name over-the-counter medication that contains propylhexedrine. Propylhexedrine is a stimulant. The drug causes a release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin from cells. Its stimulant effects are similar to the fight-or-flight response that occurs in people and animals when they are stressed, including:

  • Vasoconstriction (tightening of the arterial walls).
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Dilation of the airways.
  • Increased blood sugar levels.

Amphetamine sulfate was once the active ingredient used in Benzedrex inhalers; however, amphetamines are commonly misused and high doses can be dangerous. In 1949, amphetamine in the inhalers was replaced with propylhexedrine.

Uses for Benzedrex

Benzedrex intranasal inhalers are meant to temporarily treat nasal congestion that can occur as a result of:

  • Allergies.
  • Colds.
  • Hay fever.

The medication can be sprayed into the nostrils of adults and children over 6 years of age. The Benzedrex inhaler releases a very small amount of propylhexedrine (0.4-0.5 milligrams), which helps to constrict the blood vessels in the nose, providing relief from congestion.

Benzedrex (Propylhexedrine) Misuse

Although propylhexedrine can be a useful medication, there are some people who misuse the drug. According to one study, individuals who misuse the drug generally do not do so by using the nasal inhaler properly. Rather, they ingest the medication orally or inject it into their veins.

Inside every Benzedrex inhaler is a cotton ball soaked with propylhexedrine. Most individuals who misuse Benzedrex receive the drug in one of these ways:

  • They swallow the cotton ball whole.
  • They soak the cotton in lemon juice for a few hours and then either drink the liquid or take it intravenously.

Individuals have described the resulting high, which lasts around eight hours, as similar to that experienced with crystal methamphetamine or Adderall.

Propylhexedrine misuse has been blamed for several health problems and even sudden death.

Adverse Effects of Benzedrex Misuse

When taken as instructed, Benzedrex is generally not a dangerous drug. Some individuals may experience side effects, such as:

  • Burning nasal passages.
  • Dryness.
  • Rebound nasal congestion.
  • Sweating.
  • Tremors.
  • Anxiousness and/or restlessness.

However, Benzedrex misuse is associated with dangerous—and potentially deadly—health risks. According to the Handbook of the Medical Consequences of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, adverse effects of Benzedrex (propylhexedrine) misuse can include:

  • Rapid or irregular heart rate.
  • Blood pressure changes.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Chest pain.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chills.
  • Shaking.
  • Heart attack.
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest.
  • Respiratory distress.
  • Psychosis.
  • Fever.
  • Death.

Benzedrex (Propylhexedrine) Dangers & Risk of Overdose

One study reports that the toxic effects of Benzedrex (propylhexedrine) are similar to those of amphetamines but that Benzedrex misuse can actually produce more severe end-organ problems, especially if it is injected intravenously. This is reportedly because propylhexedrine both constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure more intensely than amphetamines.

Injecting propylhexedrine is linked with:

  • Swelling.
  • Tissue death.
  • Ulcers.
  • Cellulitis.
  • Changes in sensation.
  • Bruising.
  • Abscesses.

Individuals who take propylhexedrine intravenously also run the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis from sharing needles with other users.

In addition to propylhexedrine, Benzedrex inhalers also contain lavender oil and menthol. Although some individuals who misuse the drug seek to extract the propylhexedrine from the mixture, extraction methods may be flawed.

Other individuals may consume the cotton rods whole, ingesting all the ingredients of Benzedrex as well as the cotton. Consuming these other components, particularly in large amounts, can be dangerous.

Of course, there are other adverse effects that aren’t related directly to the drug. Many people who use propylhexedrine try to enhance their experience by mixing the stimulant with other drugs, like the plant kratom. As the journal Practical Pain Management states, mixing these drugs can lead to dangerous levels of toxicity in the body.

Overdose is a serious risk of excess or long-term propylhexedrine misuse. In fact, an article in U.S. Pharmacist has cited the following as 2 of the more common causes of death in propylhexedrine-related overdoses:

  • Brainstem dysfunction
  • Cardiac arrest

Signs of Benzedrex or Propylhexedrine Misuse

Benzedrex misuse can lead to the development of a stimulant use disorder, which is when a person continues to compulsively use stimulants despite the negative effects that result from their use.

Signs that an individual may be suffering from a stimulant use disorder (which may involve propylhexedrine) include:

  • Using stimulants more or in larger amounts than intended.
  • Craving stimulants.
  • Persistently wanting to or unsuccessfully trying to decrease or stop stimulant use.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from stimulants.
  • Continuing using stimulants even though they are causing or worsening problems in relationships or other social issues.
  • Having problems fulfilling important responsibilities at school, work, or home due to regular stimulant use.
  • Decreasing or stopping other activities because of stimulant use.
  • Continuing stimulant use even when faced with significant psychological or physical consequences.
  • Using stimulants repeatedly use in dangerous situations.
  • Experiencing tolerance and/or withdrawal when stimulant use is stopped or significantly reduced.

Treatment for Benzedrex Addiction

Whenever a drug is being misused, the potential for addiction and long-term harm arises. If you are struggling with Benzedrex misuse, help is available. At Laguna Treatment Center—an Orange County rehab—our team of addiction specialists use evidence-based therapies to help people find recovery from drug dependence and addiction and get back to living the lives they deserve.

To learn more about our different levels of addiction rehab, contact our knowledgeable and compassionate admissions navigators at . They’re on hand 24/7 to answer your questions, including what features and amenities we offer, how to start the rehab admissions process, and different rehab payment options—including using using insurance to pay for rehab.

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