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Substance Use: Common Drugs

Gravol®

​​​​​​​​​Gravol® is a trade name for the non-prescription drug dimenhydrinate. Dimenhydrinate is used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting. As your body gets used to the drug (even after taking it for only a few days), it needs more and more of it to give you the same effect (you build up a tolerance).

This drug is sometimes abused because large doses can give you a "​high" and cause hallucinations. It doesn't cost much and is easy to find.

To prevent the abuse of this drug, pharmacists in Alberta keep it behind the counter.

What are the short-term effects?

At recommended doses, Gravol® can cause:
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • a dry mouth
  • feelings of nervousness or excitement

Gravol® can also affect your concentration and movements. Younger children will feel all these effects more than adults. The elderly are more sensitive to these effects, especially if they have delirium or dementia.

For these reasons, you should use Gravol® with caution if you are driving or doing other things where you have to be alert. You shouldn’t take this drug if you have chronic lung diseases like bronchitis or emphysema, or if you have glaucoma.

At lower doses, you can have feelings of well-being and feeling high. Using Gravol® with alcohol, codeine, and other depressant drugs makes these effects stronger. Exercising or being exposed to hot weather can make you dizzy when using this drug.

Large doses can cause:
  • sluggishness
  • paranoia
  • agitation
  • memory loss
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • trouble swallowing or speaking
  • hallucinations

An overdose can cause:

  • confusion
  • irrational behaviour
  • loss of muscle coordination
  • trouble breathing
  • high fever
  • convulsions or seizures
  • coma

Children will have these symptoms at lower doses than adults. They are especially prone to convulsions.

An overdose can kill you. Medical attention is needed right away to treat overdoses.

What are the long-term effects?

Chronic heavy users have problems like:
  • depression
  • feeling confused
  • having no energy
  • vomiting
  • trouble urinating (passing water)
  • trouble thinking or socializing

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • excitability
  • weakness
  • discomfort
  • poor appetite
  • stomach cramps
  • nausea

For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the 24-hour Help Line.

Current as of: April 1, 2017

Author: Poison & Drug Information Service, Alberta Health Services