Benzedrex is an over-the-counter nasal spray that it is abused by a surprising portion of the population. When taken properly, it has a very low potential for abuse, but it is often used recreationally via oral and intravenous administration.

Symptoms of abuse include track marks on the arms, disassembled nasal inhalers, and social withdrawal. Professional treatment for Benzedrex abuse is vitally important, as such abuse can cause sudden death in the user.

What Is Benzedrex?

According to the, Benzedrex is an intranasal inhaler that is used to treat nasal congestion on a temporary basis. It is often used to address colds, allergies, and other issues.

The active ingredient in most over-the-counter nasal decongestants like Benzedrex has historically been amphetamine sulfate. Amphetamines are chronically abused, however, and high doses can be dangerous. That is why the use of amphetamines in nasal sprays stopped as early as the 1950s.

Propylhexedrine came onto the market to replace amphetamine as the common active ingredient.

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How Propylhexedrine Works

Propylhexedrine is an alpha-adrenergic agonist. Similar to other monoamine-releasing stimulants, propylhexedrine releases norepinephrine and dopamine into the central nervous system. Propylhexedrine will mimic the psychological and physiological effects of the fight-or-flight response.

Use of propylhexedrine results in:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vasoconstriction (a constriction of arterial walls)
  • Hyperglycemia (increase in blood sugar levels)
  • Bronchodilation (opening of the pulmonary airways)

Propylhexedrine works by causing dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine transporters to reverse their flow of direction. This reversal of these neurotransmitters causes a release of these cognitive chemicals from the vesicles to the cytoplasm and, finally, to the brain synapses of the neural network. Ultimately, this causes the release of more dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.  

Propylhexedrine Specifics

Propylhexedrine is banned in all competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This means that athletes are not allowed to take the substance during any competition that accepts WADA regulations, as it is considered a performance enhancer.

Propylhexedrine has many names on the street.

  • Stove-top speed
  • Bathtub crystal
  • Peanut butter meth
  • Bathtub crank
  • Bathtub speed

Propylhexedrine delivery drugs, such as Benzedrex, come with the potential for side effects. These include the following:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Increase in nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Restlessness
  • Anxious
  • Tremors
  • Dryness

How vulnerable you are to various side effects is dependent on many different factors. These are usually related to physical differences, the specific drugs, the environment, and social factors.

There are certain characteristics that make an individual more susceptible to common drug side effects, including:


This is one of the most significant indicators of whether or not you will be more susceptible to side effects. Very young and very old people are in greater danger of a severe reaction to this medication.

The way children’s bodies absorb and metabolize drugs is vastly different than how adults do. For example, children tend to absorb drugs more slowly through the stomach than adults do, but more rapidly intramuscularly.

The elderly population has been shown to be seven times more likely to go to the hospital for an adverse reaction to a drug.


Genetic distinctions account for 20 to 95 percent of patient variability. While many studies still need to be done to determine specific precursors to predict patient-to-patient reaction, genetics play a large role in the likelihood of side effects.


The role of the kidneys is to flush out toxins. They essentially act as a filtration system. Having an impaired kidney that is not operating at full capacity makes it more likely that you will develop side effects to drugs that are typically excreted through the kidneys.

Benzedrex Abuse & Consequences

While there is not a lot of current data on Benzedrex abuse, those who generally abuse drugs like Benzedrex do so by injecting the drug into their veins or taking it orally.

Propylhexedrine, the active ingredient in Benzedrex, has been linked to 15 deaths by the Dallas County Medical Examiner since 1973. Twelve of the 15 deaths were due to Benzedrex being injected intravenously. These were sudden deaths.

Examination of the bodies during autopsy found evidence of:

  • Pulmonary edema (fluid buildup in the lungs)
  • Foreign body granulomas (response of body tissue to any foreign material)
  • Fibrosis
  • Pulmonary hypertension

All of these were common findings in the deaths caused by Benzedrex abuse. Right ventricle hypertrophy (poor blood flow from the heart to the lungs) was also present in nine of the 12 subjects who died from intravenous abuse. For this reason, sudden death caused by right ventricular hypertrophy and/or pulmonary hypertension in young adults with a history of intravenous drug abuse points to propylhexedrine abuse.

When taken properly, Benzedrex is not considered a dangerous drug. However, abuse can cause some serious repercussions. Propylhexedrine abuse has been associated with the following:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest
  • Excess fluids surrounding the heart
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Buildup of fluid in the lungs
  • Respiratory problems
  • Psychosis
  • Chills
  • Shaking
  • Fever
  • Sepsis
  • Death

Injecting propylhexedrine can cause various problems, such as swelling, the death of tissue, ulcers, bruising, abscesses, and cellulitis.

According to another study published by the National Center for Biotechnological Information, the toxic effects of propylhexedrine are comparative to the amphetamines that it was used to replace. Surprisingly, it was found that propylhexedrine could even potentially cause more severe organ issues than amphetamines, especially when injected. This is because propylhexedrine raises blood pressure and constricts blood vessels much more intensely than amphetamines.

Benzedrex Abuse

Another issue with Benzedrex abuse is that on top of propylhexedrine, Benzedrex inhalers also contain lavender and menthol oil. Many abusers attempt to extract propylhexedrine from the mixture, but some extraction processes are much less than perfect.

The method commonly used to abuse Benzedrex involves taking out the cotton rods that are soaked in the compound and then submerging them in warm water and injecting the resulting solution.

Some people will eat the cotton rods, consuming all the components, which can be dangerous.

Withdrawal & Abuse Signs

The Mayo Clinic relays that Benzedrex can be some withdrawal symptoms. There is a kind of rebound effect that happens when someone uses this over-the-counter medication regularly. After several days of using the spray, the nose can develop a resistance to its effects.

Because of this effect, it may take more and more of the nasal medication to achieve the same anti-congestion result. Congestion may even get worse once an individual stops using the nasal spray. Some may think that this is grounds for labeling Benzedrex as habit-forming, but it has not been.

Addiction is defined as a compulsive psychological need for a substance even in the face of known psychological, physical, and social repercussions. While Benzedrex does not fall under this category (part of the reason it is an over-the-counter medication), general discomfort associated with a crash or comedown from the drug may occur.

These symptoms include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Cravings for the drug of choice
  • Social isolation from others
  • Restlessness
  • Extreme irritability
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increase or decrease in blood pressure
  • Tightness in chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Flu-like symptoms

Dependence is not likely to develop with Benzedrex, but that does not prevent abuse. Look for telltale signs of Benzedrex abuse, such as:

  • Using stimulants in much larger amounts than intended
  • Tolerance issues
  • Withdrawal symptoms when stopping use
  • Continuing use despite significant psychological and physiological problems
  • Craving for stimulants
  • Persistent desire to stop using or decrease stimulant use without success
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about, looking for, or recovering from stimulant use
  • Reduced participation in regular activities to use stimulants
  • Trouble meeting responsibilities and obligations at school, work, and home
  • Continued use of stimulants even though they are causing significant issues with relationships and friendships

Individuals who are abusing Benzedrex may leave behind broken inhalers, packages, and bits of cloth. You may find these articles in their room or clothing.

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Treatment for Benzedrex Abuse

Drug abuse is an epidemic in the United States. Thankfully, drug abuse can be treated, and full recovery is possible.

According to a publication from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are many different options that have been successful in treating drug abuse.

Some of these treatment options include:

  • Behavioral counseling
  • Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety
  • Medical applications and devices used to treat withdrawal symptoms and/or deliver skills training

With some hard work and the help of a treatment facility, successful rehabilitation is possible. While a good treatment program is essential, follow-up care is pivotal for ensuring extended success. Treatments are most effective when they include medical and mental health services.

Medications and therapy are crucial for addressing withdrawal symptoms. While detox is a critical stage, it is only the first step toward recovery for addiction.

Following addiction therapy, relapse prevention is the priority. Social support systems are important for sustained recovery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction or abuse, Arete Recovery is here to provide the help and resources that someone may need while they follow the path to sobriety. Our addiction specialists are on-call 24/7, so call now at (855) 781-9939 to get connected to the help you need, or contact us online.