Benadryl Challenge: What Parents & Educators Need to Know

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February 16, 2022

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In this lesson, parents & educators will learn

  • Why and how students are participating in the dangerous social media challenge
  • Real world examples of how this is dangerous from news across the country
  • Learn tips on how to talk with your students about this challenge and its dangers


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Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Table of Contents

The Benadryl challenge is a viral trend that encourages users to take a large dose of medication, like Benadryl. Some users report experiencing hallucinations. The challenge is dangerous and medical experts and manufacturers have posted warnings about the challenge.

What is the Benadryl Challenge? (aka Hallucination Challenge)

  • Users take excessive amounts of the medication normally used for allergy relief with the hopes of inducing hallucinations
  • Challengers record themselves while on the medication and then share their experiences online with hashtags #Benadryl or #BenadrylChallenge
  • The challenge started on TikTok in 2020, but has spread to other social media over time around the country

What the news says

One perspective that younger kids have is that because it’s over-the-counter, because it didn’t come from my doctor, it’s not harmful. But some over-the-counter medicines can be even more harmful than those prescribed.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Oklahoma News 4 headline: Dangerous 'benadryl Challenge' on TikTok may be to blame for death of Oklahoma teen
The dose that can cause a hallucination is very close to the dose that can cause something potentially life-threatening…

KFOR News 4

New York 1 headline: TikTok Benadryl Challenge Prompts FDA to Issue Warning
In Fort Worth, Texas, Cook Children’s Hospital said it treated three teens in May from Benadryl overdoses after they were challenged on the app. The FDA said it is ‘investigating these reports and conducting a review to determine if additional cases have been reported.’

NY1

Why should parents & educators care?

  • Students may feel peer pressure to participate in this challenge. Taking medication that is legal, illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter is dangerous for teens
  • Taking high-quantities of medicine against the label’s instruction is dangerous for any user regardless of what they see others experience

What can parents & educators do about this social media challenge?

  • Above all, contact your local poison control center or 911 if you believe someone has taken medication
  • Even though TikTok says they are removing mentions of this dangerous challenge, teens may still be talking about it. It may also be seen on unmoderated social media apps or websites
  • Get involved and talk with your student about peer pressure on social media. Also, discuss ways to report or block bullying if they feel pressured to partake in dangerous challenges
  • Remind students that users don’t always share their full experiences in their social media posts. For instance, others have likely not shared their negative side effects of the challenge
  • ~ Explain the medical consequences of taking any medication or drugs

Additional resources

MomTalk with Beth & Andrea

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Benadryl challenge resurfaces on various social media and messaging platforms throughout the year. Teens want to connect with others users who seem to be “safe” despite taking high-doses of medication. This challenge is dangerous. Seek immediate medical assistance if anyone takes medication in a manner not directed by the label. Call your local poison control center or 911.


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