Benzedrex Inhaler Abuse

Benzedrex Inhaler AbuseBenzedrex intranasal inhalers are branded decongestants available in the United States without a prescription. The generic name for the medication is propylhexedrine. 

Inhaler abuse is reasonably commonplace due to the nonprescription nature of these medications widening access. The FDA issued a safety concern on the dangers of abusing medications containing propylhexedrine due to the risk of:

  • Heart problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Death

What Is a Benzedrex Inhaler?

Benzedrex intranasal inhalers are intended for the short-term treatment of nasal congestion associated with colds or allergies.

Originally, Benzedrex inhalers contained amphetamine sulfate as an active ingredient. Amphetamines are a common drug of abuse, though, and can be dangerous in high doses. In 1949, this ingredient was replaced with propylhexedrine.

Propylhexedrine is classified as a stimulant. The substance causes increased production of:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine

The stimulant effects induced by propylhexedrine are similar to the naturally occurring fight-or-flight response triggered in response to stress. These effects include:

  • Tightening of arterial walls (vasoconstriction)
  • Raised heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure levels
  • Dilated airways
  • Spike in blood sugar levels

The vasoconstrictive properties of the medication is what makes it so effective as a nasal decongestant.

Why Is Benzedrex Prescribed?

Benzedrex inhalers are on over-the-counter treatment for nasal congestion. You do not need a prescription for Benzedrex.

The most common application for Benzedrex is to relieve hay fever, colds, or upper respiratory allergies.

You spray a Benzedrex inhaler into each nostril. This releases a small dose of 0.5mg of propylhexedrine, constricting the blood vessels in your nostrils. This constriction brings about temporary relief from sinus pressure and congestion.

Are There Risks with Legitimate Medical Use of Benzedrex?

Benzedrex inhalers are typically safe if used short-term and as directed.

Even if you use the medication legitimately, you may experience the following minor side effects:

  • Sneezing
  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Increased nasal discharge

If you overuse your Benzedrex inhaler, this can intensify these side effects.

B.F. Ascher manufactures Benzedrex in the United States. They advise that inhalers should not be used for more than three days due to the risk of infection in the mucus membrane of the nasal cavity when exposed to excessive amounts of propylhexedrine. 

How Can Legitimate Use Lead to Abuse?

Research indicates that most people do not abuse Benzedrex by using the inhaler properly.

Instead, most abuse of this stimulant occurs by:

  • Ingesting Benzedrex orally
  • Injecting a solution containing Benzedrex intravenously 

Why Do People Abuse Benzedrex?

There are many forms of inhaler abuse reported in the United States, including: 

  • Benzedrex inhaler abuse
  • Benzedrine inhaler abuse
  • Vicks inhaler abuse
  • Epinephrine inhaler abuse
  • Albuterol inhaler abuse 

Inhalers contain stimulants, so most people who abuse this medication are looking for the effects similar to meth.

Benzedrex inhaler abuse occurs among those looking to party for longer, stay away for longer, or study for longer.

Each Benzedrex inhaler contains a ball of cotton wool saturated with propylhexedrine. Those who abuse this stimulant either ingest the ball of cotton whole or soak it in lemon juice for hours before either drinking the solution or injecting it into the veins.

What Are the Side Effects of Benzedrex Abuse?

Inhalant abuse can cause a variety of negative effects to manifest. The most common asthma inhaler abuse symptoms include: 

  • Fluctuations in blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Chills, fever, and sepsis
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest
  • Heart attack
  • Psychosis
  • Death 

Injecting propylhexedrine is especially damaging and associated with the following adverse outcomes: 

  • Ulcers
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tissue death
  • Cellulitis
  • Abscesses

This study shows that the toxic side effects of propylhexedrine mirror those of amphetamines but are also associated with more severe organ problems. Researchers believe this is due to the way propylhexedrine raises blood pressure and constricts blood vessels more effectively than amphetamines. This risk is further magnified if Benzedrex is injected intravenously.

If Benzedrex inhalers are abused by consuming the cotton balls inside whole, consuming menthol and lavender oil can be harmful in large amounts. 

What Are the Risks of Benzedrex Abuse?

In addition to the risks outlined above, using Benzedrex can also lead to polysubstance abuse (the abuse of multiple addictive substances). 

This study outlines the death of a man who combined propylhexedrine with mitragynine (kratom). 

Benzedrex inhalers are also commonly abused in combination with alcohol. 

What Are the Short-Term and Long-Term Health Effects of Benzedrex Abuse?

These are the most reported short-term effects of Benzedrex abuse:

  • Rapidly cycling thoughts
  • Decreased appetite
  • Heightened focus
  • Stimulation
  • Increased libido
  • Euphoria and elation

Abusing Benzedrex in any form is dangerous. Propylhexedrine can constrict blood vessels throughout the body when abused, raising heart rate and body temperature and damaging the lungs.

Swallowing cotton balls soaked in propylhexedrine can trigger gastric blockage or other problems in the GI tract. 

The sustained abuse of Benzedrex can cause these long-term side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Nervousness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure levels
  • Cognitive fatigue

Benzedrex Addiction

There is limited research on the addictive potential of Benzedrex, although anecdotal evidence suggests the substance is strongly addictive. 

The substance delivers a high described as “meth-like”. Propylhexedrine is structurally identical and chemically similar to methamphetamine.

These are the diagnostic criteria for stimulant use disorder, per DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders): 

  1. Using stimulants in greater quantities than intended or for longer than intended.
  2. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the effects of stimulants wear off.
  3. Craving stimulants.
  4. Unsuccessful attempts to moderate or discontinue use.
  5. Excessive time spent obtaining and using stimulants, as well as recovering from their effects.
  6. Spending less time on hobbies and interests.
  7. Using stimulants despite social and relationship issues triggered by stimulant use.
  8. Neglected personal and professional responsibilities.
  9. Repeated use of stimulants in dangerous situations.
  10. Continued use of stimulants despite negative physical or psychological outcomes.
  11. Tolerance to stimulants.

Benzedrex Overdose

Any abuse of Benzedrex can lead to fatal overdose due to cardiac arrest or brainstem dysfunction.

Treatment for Benzedrex Inhaler Abuse at Gratitude Lodge

Misusing or abusing nasal decongestants like Benzedrex can bring about the same problems as abusing prescription medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol. Fortunately, stimulant use disorders like Benzedrex addiction respond positively to evidence-based treatment.

By engaging with psychotherapy sessions at an inpatient or outpatient rehab center, you’ll identify what triggers you to abuse nasal decongestants. A therapist will also help you to develop healthy coping mechanisms so you can navigate sober living more effectively. 

We offer the following treatment programs for inhaler abuse at Gratitude Lodge rehab centers in Newport Beach, San Diego, and Long Beach:

  • 30-day inpatient rehab
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)

In addition to accessing psychotherapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), you will have access to the following services at Gratitude Lodge: 

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Daily meetings
  • 12-step immersion program

Fight back against the negative outcomes caused by Benzedrex inhaler abuse by reaching out to Gratitude Lodge today at 888-861-1658.


Don’t Let Addiction Control You