Can You Get High on Benzonatate?

On the surface, Benzonatate is just a run-of-the-mill cough suppressant.

Got the common cold? Take some Benzonatate to experience some relief. Savvy users, however, have surmised that heightened doses can result in a recreational Benzonatate high.

This opinion isn’t shared by all, though, with many rather skeptical about it having any recreational value at all. Let’s see where the truth lies.

Recreational Use

Benzonatate is seemingly innocuous cough medicine available under several brand names, including Zonatuss and Tessalon.

It was created during the 1950s to help treat coughs, and is ingested orally via 100-200 milligram capsules, which are usually yellow or orange in color.

If it is just used to treat cough, though, then why is there a belief that the Benzonatate high is worth going for?

One of the side effect combinations of Benzonatate is experiencing drowsiness and hallucinations. In the right dose, users reason, you can get to the “sweet spot” of this effect.

The capsules are easy to obtain and commonly prescribed to help treat not only cough symptoms related to colds, but also other breathing issues associated with pneumonia, bronchitis, and the like.

There hasn’t been much buzz lately about Benzonatate as a recreational drug, though the FDA has released a warning about the ease with which young children can mistake the capsules for candies and accidentally overdose.

What Does Benzonatate High Feel Like

The online community gives Benzonatate a resounding thumbs-down. One user posed a question about how to use Benzonatate optimally:

“They’re 100mg little yellow balls. I have 30 of them and want to get high from them. Also, should I take them and then smoke some weed? Is this safe and will it make the experience better?”

He was met with a rather blunt answer:

“It has no recreational value at all. You won’t get high from this shit.”

It’s not just Reddit, either. Other forums have derided Benzonatate’s potency for recreational use as well:

“In high doses it can cause seizures and trembling. If you chew it before you swallow it it will cause your mouth to go numb. I don’t think it’s anything you’d want to take unless you have a sore throat.”

How I found this drug

Naturally, this inspired me to get to the bottom of things. Was Benzonatate going to provide a relaxing high, or was it just a dud? After trying a heightened dose, I can safely say that the latter is the more likely outcome.

This isn’t to say I experienced nothing while taking Benzonatate. I got a splitting headache, then became very constipated (which lasted for several days).

My advice would be to stick with using small doses of this drug for coughs, and not making any forays into recreational Benzonatate use whatsoever.

Wait a second, what exactly is Benzonatate?

Benzonatate is what is known as an “antitussive,” which is just a fancy way of saying cough syrup. Of the several varieties of cough syrups, antitussives like Benzonatate are known to actually suppress the urge to cough.

It is similar to Codeine in that effect, but contains no Codeine itself, meaning it doesn’t produce the pronounced high that you’ll often hear associated with other such cough syrups.

In addition, it is not as effective or as safe as Codeine because of the potential for toxicity and unpleasant side effects.

My own experience

You’ll have noticed that the personal experiences we delved into basically smashed Benzonatate as a useless recreational drug. They aren’t wrong.

As far as anti-cough medications go, codeine is a much better option for those looking to actually experience some kind of high.

Abusing cough syrups in general, though is frowned upon by the medical community, as this substance abuse article so clearly displays.

If that wasn’t enough, going with too high a dose in trying to use Benzonatate for recreational purposes can easily result in severe toxicity and potentially a coma or seizures.

This report details one such incident and underscores the need for using the drug responsibly.

Why take it?

OK, so Benzonatate probably won’t get you high. Does that mean it’s completely worthless? Quite the contrary.

For people who are allergic to Codeine, this is the go-to anti-cough medication, even though there are some potential side effects.

Benzonatate will help relieve a range of respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, emphysema, and pneumonia. It is not recommended for use in treating asthma or so-called “productive coughs,” however.

In some cases, it can be used as a topical anesthetic for mouth pain (this is much less common, though).

One very beneficial side effect of Benzonatate use is the reduction of chronic snoring. These slim benefits are seemingly outweighed by the advanced risks Benzonatate presents.

Common side effects

Benzonatate can result in some minor side effects, like drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea, and constipation.

As most medications can, it can cause a rare allergic reaction in some peoples. Most alarming, however, are the advanced side effects that can come with using the drug.

Cardiac arrest is possible, as is agitation, seizure, coma, hypotension, tachycardia, ventricular dysrhythmia, asystole, mental confusion, hallucinations, convulsions, and potentially death.

The potential for toxicity when using Benzonatate makes attempting to use it as a recreational drug a risky process, and, when coupled with the low rewards, renders such use undesirable.

Closing thoughts

Benzonatate just isn’t worth it. If your doctor prescribes it to help with some cough symptoms, use it, but do so within the recommendations of said physician.

Trying to go off-label with this one just seems to risky, and the rewards don’t justify the potential for calamity.


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