Dimenhydrinate, more commonly known as Dramamine, is one drug that has been used recreationally to achieve a high or sedative effect.
When taken according to recommendations to treat the symptoms of motion sickness, dimenhydrinate has not been shown to be addictive. However, when the drug is taken at doses much higher than recommended, a person may experience feelings of euphoria. Craving this feeling can lead to abuse of the drug and possible addiction.
What Is Dimenhydrinate?
Dimenhydrinate is an antihistamine medication used to prevent and treat motion sickness by treating the symptoms associated with it, including nausea, vomiting, and vertigo. Being an over-the-counter medication, it is easily accessible, making it prone to misuse. It is also often used to decrease withdrawal symptoms due to opioid use.
Name Brand, Generic and Street Names for Dimenhydrinate
Dimenhydrinate is the generic name for a drug more commonly known by the brand names Dramamine, Gravol or Draminate. It is also called diphenhydramine 8-chlorotheophylline, based on the names of the substances it is composed of.
Since being used as a recreational drug, dimenhydrinate has come to be known as dime, dime tabs, substance D, d-house, D-Q or drams.
What Is Dimenhydrinate Used For?
In most cases, dimenhydrinate is used to treat and prevent symptoms of motion sickness such as dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Many people experience motion sickness when traveling in airplanes, cars or boats. Some people may also develop motion sickness from rides at amusement parks.
Dimenhydrinate works by stimulating nerves in the inner ear and brain that control the sense of balance. This stimulation helps control dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and vomiting, especially in response to sudden changes in movement that can induce motion sickness.
Other dimenhydrinate uses include treatment for:
- Meniere’s disease
- Diseases involving hearing loss
- Ringing in the ears
- Inner ear problems
Dimenhydrinate should be taken as directed by the dosing on the package. The dose of dimenhydrinate depends on the condition being treated and varies with age. Dimenhydrinate is usually distributed in 50 mg tablets, with a recommended dose of one or two tablets. The maximum daily dose is 400 mg.
When used to prevent motion sickness, dimenhydrinate should be taken 30–60 minutes before the activity. Adults and children over the age of 12 can take dimenhydrinate every four to six hours, while a child under the age of 12 should only take it every six to eight hours. Dimenhydrinate should not be given to children under the age of two unless directed by a doctor.
Dimenhydrinate is made of a mix of two drugs, diphenhydramine, and 8-chlorotheophylline. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine, also known as Benadryl, which provides the anti-nausea effects and can cause a person to feel tired. To counteract the sedative effects, diphenhydramine is mixed with 8-chlorotheophylline, which acts as a stimulant.
Dimenhydrinate can cause drowsiness and impaired vision, or inhibit reaction time. Therefore, caution should be taken before driving after taking dimenhydrinate. Dimenhydrinate should not be mixed with alcohol, marijuana or other substances that can induce drowsiness.
Dosing should be carefully followed, as dimenhydrinate overdosing can be fatal.
Precautions should be taken before using dimenhydrinate if you have specific medical conditions or are taking other prescription or nonprescription medications, natural supplements or vitamins. If someone has concerns about possible interactions and negative side effects, they should speak with a doctor.
If a woman is pregnant, she should speak to a doctor before using dimenhydrinate. It should also be avoided if breastfeeding, as it can be passed through breast milk to the child and it is not recommended for consumption in children under two years old.
Is Dimenhydrinate Addictive?
When taken in doses exceeding the recommended amount, dimenhydrinate has been reported to cause a high sensation. The high is usually associated with feelings of excitement, hallucinations, loss of coordination and a state of confusion. It has also been shown to have sedative effects, making it appealing to people who experience anxiety.
Using larger doses of dimenhydrinate to achieve a high sensation has the potential to become an addictive behavior. The recreational use of dimenhydrinate has long been reported and has decreased over the past few years, but it is still a commonly misused drug.
Signs of Dimenhydrinate Addiction
If a person is using dimenhydrinate recreationally and begins to crave it between uses, it may be a sign of addiction. Other signs of dimenhydrinate addiction include:
- Sleeping more than usual, which is associated with the sedative effect
- Antisocial behavior, including avoiding friends
- Paranoia, due to the hallucinations associated with use
- Being overly secretive or trying to hide use
- Finding medication packages in the trash
People who have mental health conditions, such as anxiety, schizophrenia or depression, or substance use disorders, are more likely to use dimenhydrinate repetitively, making them at risk for addiction. A person struggling with addiction to other substances, such as alcohol or opioids, will also be more likely to misuse dimenhydrinate. Because dimenhydrinate is an easily accessible medication, it is important to watch for signs of misuse in teens.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a substance use disorder, The Recovery Village can help. To learn more about our comprehensive treatment plans, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative.
Drugbank. “Dimenhydrinate.” June 11, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019 Halpert, AG; Olmstead, MC; Beninger, RJ.“Mechanisms and abuse liability of the anti-histamine dimenhydrinate” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. January 2002. Accessed June 12, 2019 MedlinePlus. ”Dimenhydrinate.” July 15, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2019 Winn, RE; McDonnell, KP. “Fatality secondary to massive overdose of dimenhydrinate.” Annals of Emergency Medicine. September 1993. Accessed June 12, 2019
Drugbank. “Dimenhydrinate.” June 11, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019
Halpert, AG; Olmstead, MC; Beninger, RJ.“Mechanisms and abuse liability of the anti-histamine dimenhydrinate” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. January 2002. Accessed June 12, 2019
MedlinePlus. ”Dimenhydrinate.” July 15, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2019
Winn, RE; McDonnell, KP. “Fatality secondary to massive overdose of dimenhydrinate.” Annals of Emergency Medicine. September 1993. Accessed June 12, 2019