What are motion sickness pills?

Over-the-counter motion sickness pills are antihistamines. Taken in proper doses, these antihistamines prevent or remedy the illness sometimes experienced while travelling on amusement park rides, planes, trains, boats or automobiles.

When the inner ear perceives motion in a different way than the eyes, the systems of the body that control balance become confused, causing motion sickness. For instance, a person reading in the car might feel ill if their inner ear registers the motion of the car but their eyes do not witness the passing scenery. Motion sickness produces symptoms such as nausea, headache, vomiting, dizziness and sweating.

Dramamine (active ingredient dimenhydrinate) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) are two well-known OTC brand name antihistamines used to treat these symptoms. Both are commonplace in household medicine cabinets, making them easily accessible to teens.

OTC Dramamine comes in capsule, tablet and chewable form. OTC Benadryl is available in gelcap, liquid and tablet form.

Teens may refer to Dramamine as D-Q, substance D, d-house and drams.


How are motion sickness pills abused?

Teens ingest higher than recommended doses of motion sickness pills to achieve euphoric effects. The dangers of motion sickness pill abuse rise significantly when combined with other antihistamines, alcohol or street drugs.

What do motion sickness pills look like?

How do motion sickness pills affect a person?

At proper doses, motion sickness pills prevent or alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness.
Possible negative side effects of using motion sickness pills include blurred vision, drowsiness, constipation, stomach upset or dry mouth.

Larger than recommended doses produce distorted perception and altered sensory experiences. Users often report feelings of intense well-being and happiness. However, these positive sensations quickly disappear with the onset of an overdose.

What are the health effects/risks of using motion sickness pills?

When taken in higher than recommended doses, serious side effects may occur: restlessness, irritability, confusion, delirium, severe drowsiness, loss of coordination or consciousness, irregular heartbeat, amnesia, hallucinations, seizures, tremors and difficulty urinating.
An inability to urinate may indicate kidney malfunction and possible kidney failure. Abuse of motion sickness pills has even lead to heart attacks, brain damage, coma and death. A report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine states a fatality can occur within two hours after an overdose.

(Annals of Emergency Medicine hyperlink http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8363125.)