Be Skeptical of Stories About TikTok ‘Benadryl Challenge’ Overdoses
A teen in Oklahoma City reportedly died in August of an overdose of Benadryl pills, and this tragedy is fueling yet another social media “challenge” panic. Are teens really trying to convince other teens to take tons of allergy pills to get high?
As with all of these social media panics that start bouncing around the web and local news networks, this story has kernels of truth to it while suggesting a trend that is probably exaggerated. Remember the “Tide Pod challenge”? Some teens did genuinely post videos of themselves eating Tide Pods, and there was a temporary increase in calls to poison control for laundry detergent ingestion. But the kind of national panic that led to involvement by fearmongering lawmakers was just completely over the top relative to the actual risks.
Similarly, the “Benadryl challenge” starts with something real. Three teens in Texas in May sought medical treatment after overdosing on Benadryl. The hospital, Cook Children’s Hospital at Fort Worth, posted on its blog that the teens got the idea from a TikTok video that told them they could get high and hallucinate if they took several Benadryl pills. One girl took 14 of them and needed medical treatment.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and McClatchy News reached out to TikTok and were told that, yes, the company had removed content from the platform that was violating their community guidelines by encouraging people to take excessive amounts of Benadryl. So TikTok acknowledged the videos existed and has removed them.
Fast forward to the end of August. On August 28, Oklahoma City news outlet KFOR reported that a 15-year-old girl actually died from overdosing on Benadryl, ostensibly because she “fell victim to
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