Understanding Promethazine

Promethazine (Phenergan) is an antihistamine derived from phenothiazine. It is available as a tablet, solution, and rectal suppository. In tablet form, it can be cut or crushed and taken with or without food.

How Promethazine Works

Promethazine works by blocking histamine during an allergic reaction. Histamine is an organic compound released during a local immune response. Promethazine also reduces the number of signals shot off by the brain, which induces vomiting. When in tablet form, it can interact with other medications.

Introduction of the antihistamine to other substances changes its common effects. This change makes the antihistamine popular among medical professionals during combination therapy. For example, when mixed with opioids like meperidine, promethazine can help as a pain reliever. If taken with phenobarbital, a barbiturate, promethazine can cause severe drowsiness.

Promethazine is used for conditions like:

  • Allergies (watery eyes, redness, rashes)
  • Motion sickness
  • Common cold symptoms (sneezing, cough, and runny nose)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety before surgery
  • Pain after surgery
  • Insomnia

Though the antihistamine helps control specific symptoms, it does not treat them. Promethazine also does not speed up recovery. To learn how the drug interacts with other prescriptions, always consult a healthcare professional.

Effects And Abuse

Promethazine affects the body’s ability to regulate inflammation, alertness, and pain control. By preventing the release of histamine, it causes sleepiness and deep relaxation. This drug increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and increases the risk of sunburn.

When abused, promethazine creates several negative effects like:

  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Skin reactions/sun sensitivity
  • Jaundice
  • Hallucinations or confusion
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Nightmares
  • Ear ringing
  • Organ failure
  • Bruising
  • Breathing problems
  • Overexcitement
  • Abnormal movements

Though dangerous on its own, the antihistamine can be lethal when combined with other illicit drugs

Promethazine abuse is frequent in patients struggling with coexisting addictions. In a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers discovered compelling evidence of promethazine’s non-medical use. One-quarter of the patients in the study who were using methadone were also taking promethazine. Out of the sample of methadone users, only 15% had an active promethazine prescription.

Paid Advertising. We receive advertising fees from purchases through BetterHelp links.

Online Addiction Counseling

Get professional help from an online addiction and mental health counselor from BetterHelp.

Get Matched
Begin Therapy
  • Personalized Matching Process
  • Easy Online Scheduling
  • 30,000+ Licensed Therapists


Promethazine, Opioids, And Abuse

Opioids, promethazine, and abuse are highly correlated. Methadone use for opioid addiction treatment is linked to promethazine abuse. The antihistamine strengthens the opioid “high.” The enhancing ability makes the drug popular among people with a substance use disorder. Promethazine abuse is common among injection drug users, patients with chronic pain, and at-risk teenagers. Sadly, people without prior drug disorders are becoming addicted to promethazine as well.

Opioid Epidemic

The rise of the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s and continues today. In 2016, about 11.5 million Americans were misusing prescription opioids. Almost 450,000 people have died due to this epidemic.

The fight against the opioid epidemic is growing. Yet medical professionals prescribed the drug to 191 million Americans in 2017. These individuals are usually non-experienced drug users who run a huge risk of becoming addicts. Prescription opioids can make anyone addicted to them. One in 4 patients receiving long-term opioid therapy struggles with opioid addiction.

Once addicted, it can be hard to stop, and many turn to rehab. While in recovery for opioid addiction, a popular method used to to treat patients is tapering with methadone. These tapering treatments help individuals wean off opioids slowly. They do not, however, provide the intense high some patients want. To feel that surge again, many turn to promethazine; the addiction cycle continues.

Get Help Today With Overcoming Promethazine Addiction

Promethazine addiction is dangerous and harmful to a person’s well-being. By opting in for recovery, individuals can learn to live free from the antihistamine. Thousands of people have successfully recovered from addiction. These individuals have changed their lives for the better. If you or someone you know is abusing promethazine, contact a treatment provider and get your questions answered today.