The Dangers of Dimenhydrinate Abuse

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Dimenhydrinate is an over the counter drug that is used to treat or prevent nausea as well as motion sickness. This drug can be found in suppositories as well as liquid and pill forms. Abuse of dimenhydrinate is prevalent due to the drug being a deliriant when doses of 200-1200 mg are ingested depending on body weight. Those that have problems with the abuse of dimenhydrinate use slang terms for the drug such as dime tabs, substance D and even dime. The lethal dose for this drug is 500 mg per kilogram of weight in lab rats, which can vary in humans.

Effects of Abuse of Dimenhydrinate

Users who abuse this drug have side effects that show as poisonings of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the nervous system, which in turn inhibits signal or nerve paths. Visual and auditory hallucinations are common, causing confusion and even short-term memory loss as well as paranoia among users. The higher the dose taken, the worse and more realistic the hallucinations become. It is common among abusers to hear their name being called and see creatures that invoke fear, or to have conversations with someone who is not present.

Overdose & Dependency

The abuse of dimenhydrinate also leads to temporary amnesia after periods of prolonged use because it decreases the amount of acetycholine in the body. Overdose can lead to MI or heart attacks, pupil dilation, urinary retention, dry red skin, heaviness of the legs and coma or even death. There have been reports of the abuse of this drug as far back as 1968. Dependency and tolerance are seen in those who continuously take the medication when more than 4 times the recommended dose is taken. It is used by young females for the anorexic and sedative type effects.

Acute intoxication of this drug happens when a person takes from 750-1250 mg at once. When doses are close to 800 mg, hallucinations and euphoria are seen, as well as visual sensations. When larger doses close to 1250 mg are taken, confusion and violence are seen in most cases. The intoxication seen in individuals is mostly seen when there is a history of drug use. Chronic use is seen when a tolerance to the drug is felt, where patients will take up to 5,000mg daily. When the drug is not taken by these individuals, withdrawal symptoms will be seen including lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, irritability and amnesia.


PubMed Central - Dimenhydrinate dependence and withdrawal

MedlinePlus - Dimenhydrinate