Understanding the Dangers of Hydroxyzine

Understanding the Dangers of Hydroxyzine

It is possible that the first introduction to hydroxyzine came as a request from a doctor for the intent to treat allergies or maybe even anxiety. It was a harmless prescription, until it wasn’t. You may be feeling scared, or lost. If you are a family member or a friend of someone struggling with hydroxyzine addiction, you are doing the right thing by seeking help. Today, this article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of hydroxyzine abuse, its dangers, and the road to recovery.

What is Hydroxyzine?

Hydroxyzine is classified as an antihistamine medication with both antihistaminic and anxiolytic properties. It works by blocking the effects of histamine in the body, thereby alleviating allergic reaction symptoms. Approved in the United States in 1957, hydroxyzine continues to be widely prescribed for managing anxiety and allergic conditions, as well as for its mild sedative effects.

Medical Uses of Hydroxyzine

Hydroxyzine serves several medical purposes due to its antihistaminic and anxiolytic properties. It is commonly prescribed for the following conditions:

Managing Anxiety

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Hydroxyzine is often prescribed to reduce symptoms like worry, restlessness, and muscle tension associated with GAD.
  • Premedication: In some cases, hydroxyzine is used as a premedication to reduce anxiety and nausea before medical procedures.

Relieving Allergy Symptoms

  • Histamine Blockage: As a first-generation antihistamine, hydroxyzine blocks histamine, a chemical that causes itchiness, hives, and swelling, thus providing relief from allergic reactions.
  • Skin Reactions: Hydroxyzine is beneficial for alleviating symptoms of allergic skin conditions such as hives and eczema.

Promoting Sleep

  • Mild Sedative Effect: Hydroxyzine's sedative properties can aid in falling asleep and staying asleep, making it useful for short-term management of insomnia.

Other Uses

  • Motion Sickness: Hydroxyzine can help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness.

Hydroxyzine Abuse and Addiction

While hydroxyzine is generally considered to have a low potential for addiction and abuse, its misuse can lead to addiction and adverse effects. Understanding the signs and symptoms of hydroxyzine abuse is crucial for early intervention and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Hydroxyzine Abuse

Recognizing the signs of hydroxyzine drug abuse can help individuals, their loved ones, and healthcare professionals identify a potential problem. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Increased tolerance, requiring higher doses for desired effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation
  • Neglected responsibilities and relationships
  • Obsession with obtaining and using hydroxyzine
  • Using hydroxyzine in alternative ways, such as crushing and snorting

Risks and Dangers of Hydroxyzine Abuse

Abusing hydroxyzine, especially through snorting, poses significant risks to an individual's physical and mental health. These dangers include:

Nasal Damage

Snorting hydroxyzine can cause damage to the delicate nasal tissues, leading to various complications such as nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, loss of sense of smell, nasal sores, and sinus infections. Prolonged abuse can also result in respiratory problems and difficulty breathing.

Increased Risk of Side Effects

When hydroxyzine is snorted, it bypasses the intended slow absorption process in the stomach, leading to a rapid onset of effects. This can increase the risk of side effects, including dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, constipation, confusion, low blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, shaking, seizures, and allergic reactions. Combining hydroxyzine with other drugs further amplifies these risks.

Increased Risk of Overdose

Snorting hydroxyzine elevates the likelihood of overdose, which can have severe consequences. Symptoms of hydroxyzine overdose include nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, dilated pupils, ringing in the ears, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, fast heartbeat, anxiety, hallucinations, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Combining hydroxyzine with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and opioids, further increases the risk of overdose.

Can Hydroxyzine Be Addictive?

The addictive potential of hydroxyzine has been a subject of study and debate. While hydroxyzine is not considered physically addictive or likely to cause tolerance, regular abuse or misuse can lead to psychological dependence and cravings.

Addiction Potential of Hydroxyzine

Research suggests that hydroxyzine is not physically addictive, as it does not create the physical dependence and tolerance associated with substance abuse. However, individuals who regularly abuse hydroxyzine may develop psychological addiction, leading to cravings and a preoccupation with obtaining and using the drug.

Psychological Effects of Hydroxyzine Drug Abuse

Addiction to hydroxyzine can manifest as a loss of interest in activities not involving the drug, mood swings, anxiety, irritability when unable to use hydroxyzine, avoidance of family and friends to prioritize drug use, and difficulty quitting without professional help. Although hydroxyzine addiction is not as common as with other substances, seeking treatment is essential for recovery.

Hydroxyzine Abuse Treatment and Recovery

Treating hydroxyzine abuse and addiction requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the physical and psychological aspects of the condition. The following treatment modalities are commonly employed:


Before beginning the treatment process, individuals may undergo detoxification to rid their bodies of hydroxyzine and manage withdrawal symptoms. Medical supervision and support are crucial during this stage to ensure safety and comfort.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient treatment programs provide a structured and supportive environment where individuals can receive intensive therapy and medical care. These programs are beneficial for individuals with severe hydroxyzine addiction, co-occurring mental health disorders, or a history of unsuccessful outpatient treatment.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient treatment programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while maintaining their daily routines. These programs typically involve counseling, therapy sessions, and support groups. They are suitable for individuals with a stable support system and mild to moderate hydroxyzine addiction.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals identify and modify maladaptive thoughts and behaviors associated with hydroxyzine drug abuse. Other therapeutic approaches, such as animal therapy and art therapy, may also be employed to address underlying emotional issues.

Support Groups and Aftercare

Support groups, such as 12-step programs, provide a supportive community of individuals in recovery. Aftercare programs, including ongoing therapy and counseling, help individuals maintain sobriety and address any challenges that may arise after completing treatment.

Seeking Professional Help for Hydroxyzine Abuse

If you or someone you know is struggling with hydroxyzine abuse or addiction, it is essential to seek professional help. A healthcare provider or addiction specialist can assess the severity of the problem, recommend an appropriate treatment plan, and provide support throughout the recovery journey. Remember, recovery is possible with the right support and treatment.


Hydroxyzine abuse poses significant risks to both physical and mental health. Snorting hydroxyzine, in particular, can lead to nasal damage, increased risk of side effects, and overdose. While hydroxyzine is not considered physically addictive, it can result in psychological dependence and cravings. Seeking professional help and undergoing appropriate treatment, such as detoxification, inpatient or outpatient programs, behavioral therapies, and aftercare, can aid in recovery from hydroxyzine abuse. Remember, recovery is a journey, and with the right support, individuals can regain control of their lives and achieve lasting sobriety.


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