Millions of North Americans rely on Gravol to reduce nausea, vomitting and symptoms of travel sickness. Few may realize that the main drug in Gravol, dimenhydrinate, can have life threatening side effects if taken in large doses or over an extended time, and can easily lead to addiction. Teens who take the drug as a sleeping aid may be especially at risk.
While Gravol is effective for its intended use, several authorities, including the MD Health Forum and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC), list it as an addictive drug.
According to the AADAC, you are addicted to a drug when you become tolerant to it, dependent on using it and suffer withdrawal symptoms when you no longer take it. As you become tolerant to taking the drug, you need more of it to obtain the same effect. When you attempt to stop taking the drug you experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe.
The AADAC has posted a warning about the addictive effects of prolonged and large-dosage use of Gravol.
Symptoms may include depression, confusion, loss of energy, vomiting, urine retention and difficulty thinking and socializing. You can become tolerant of the drug with just a few days of use, requiring increased doses to have the same effect, If you are using it as a sleeping aid, for example, you will find difficulty in sleeping without continually increasing the amount of the drug.
Addiction to Gravol is becoming a particular problem among North American teenagers. It is an over-the-counter drug and therefore easily obtained by teens looking for "cheap accessible highs." Teen Health FX cautions that dimenhydrinate affects the central nervous system and in high doses can create an "altered state of consciousness."
Side effects of teen abuse of Gravol include toxic psychosis, convulsions, muscle twitching, difficulty breathing, confusion, depression, mood swings and death, according to both Teen Health FX and MediResource.
While long-term effects of abuse are not known, the AADAC reports that withdrawal symptoms may include excitability, weakness and discomfort, poor appetite, stomach cramps and nausea.