Benzedrex Inhaler Abuse

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 addiction.

What Is Benzedrex?

Benzedrex nasal decongestant inhaler is an over-the-counter medication that people use to find relief from upper respiratory allergies, hay fever, or the common cold.  A drug that stops the sniffles may seem innocuous enough; however, the active ingredient in the Benzedrex inhaler – propylhexedrine – possesses the potential for abuse and addiction.

Benzedrex Inhalers and Medical Use

As mentioned, Benzedrex inhalers treat nasal congestion that is symptomatic of hay fever, the common cold, or upper respiratory allergies. At first glance, it is easy to understand why the drug is easily available in local drugstores: It’s easy to use, and it treats an everyday ailment. To use it, an individual simply sprays the drug into each nostril. This releases a very small amount of propylhexedrine (0.4-0.5 milligrams), which will constrict the blood vessels in the nostrils. With the vessels constricted, the individual will experience temporary relief from congestion and sinus pressure.

Common Benzedrex Side Effects

Like all medications, Benzedrex inhalers carry the potential for uncomfortable side effects. However, when the inhaler is used correctly, these side effects tend to be relatively harmless. Common side effects include minor discomforts, such as:

  • Burning.
  • Stinging.
  • Sneezing.
  • Increased nasal discharge.

Of course, these side effects can worsen should an individual overuse their Benzedrex inhaler. For example, drug manufacturer B.F. Ascher directs people to stop using their inhaler after three days, as the mucus membrane in the nasal cavity can become infected if exposed to too much propylhexedrine. It is also not recommended that children under 6 years old use a Benzedrex inhaler without consulting a physician.

The Risks of Benzedrex Abuse

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, or 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.

Short-Term Side Effects

Some of the short-term side effects of Benzedrex abuse include:

  • Stimulation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rapid thoughts
  • Heightened focus
  • Increased sex drive
  • Feelings of elation

Of course, Benzedrex abuse in any form is incredibly dangerous. Just as propylhexedrine constricts the blood vessels in the nostrils when used correctly, the drug constricts blood vessels throughout the body when misused. The result is an increase in body temperature and heart rate, which can damage the lungs and alter heartbeat with chronic use.

If an individual regularly swallows the propylhexedrine-soaked cotton ball, they also run the risk for gastric blockage and other digestive problems.

Long-Term Side Effects

Other long-term side effects of Benzedrex abuse include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Temporary erectile dysfunction
  • Nervousness
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Cognitive fatigue

Finally, it is important to remember that Benzedrex abuse carries the same harrowing risks as any other type of prolonged drug use. If an individual uses the drug intravenously, they are at risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other conditions that result from sharing needles.

Polydrug abuse, or the combination of multiple drugs to achieve a particular high, is also a risk for people using Benzedrex. A 2001 case study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, which examined a man’s death following a mix of propylhexedrine and mitragynine, is just one of many examples.

Can You Overdose on an Inhaler?

Overdose is a real possibility when an individual is using Benzedrex inhalers to get high. An article in U.S. Pharmacist attributes this devastating occurrence primarily to two side effects of intravenous Benzedrex abuse: brainstem dysfunction and fatal cardiac arrest. For example, let’s consider the 12 people who lost their lives due to intravenous Benzedrex use in the 1970s; the cause of death was determined to be cardiac arrhythmia in all 12 cases – all of the people were between 26 and 36 years old. The connection between propylhexedrine use via Benzedrex inhalers and cardiac incidents points to how dangerous this medication can be.

Is Benzedrex Addictive?

While there is not much research on the addictive properties of Benzedrex, anecdotal evidence in rehab facilities across the country indicates a high potential for addiction to the drug. Many people who have used a Benzedrex inhaler to get high have described the feeling as “meth-like,” and when you look at the drug’s chemical structure, it’s not hard to understand why.

Propylhexedrine is very similar to methamphetamine on a chemical level. In fact, both drugs are structurally identical, with one key difference separating them: In propylhexedrine, a salicylic cyclohexyl group is present in place of methamphetamine’s aromatic phenyl group. The two drugs’ similarities explain their similar effects (both positive and negative) on the body, but they also lead to questions about the safety of Benzedrex.

Treatment for Benzedrex Misuse

Whenever a drug is being misused, the potential for addiction and long-term harm arises. If you are struggling with Benzedrex abuse, help is available. At our drug rehab in Southern California, our team of specialists use addiction-focused healthcare to help people find recovery from drug dependence and addiction and back to living the lives they deserve.

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

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