I remember when this stuff was like crack for me. On one hand, this stuff helped to clear my nose so that I could breathe, but I wound up needing it every hour and actually experiencing pleasure from using it. Nasal spray addiction can be serious because it involves vasoconstriction in the same way stimulants affect you. Here’s how I got through my Afrin addiction naturally.
What is Rhinitis Medicamentosa?
If you are reading this looking for some answers as to why you are constantly seeking out your bottle of Afrin, then Rhinitis Medicamentosa is the medical term for what you are going through. It basically means “nasal spray addiction” and is probably included on powerpoints at med school.
So using the term “rhinitis medicamentosa” in your internet search for answers might prove to be a bit more scientifically beneficial.
Anyways, the chemical involved in this addiction is typically from the liquid chemical called Oxymetazoline. It is present in Afrin decongestant nasal sprays. The chemical Oxymetazoline HCl is marketed as being able to treat allergies, hay fever, stuffy nose congestion, sinusitis, and the common cold.
Afrin spray works by constricting blood vessels around your nasal passages and sinuses to try and reduce inflammation and swelling in the area. This will hopefully clear up the severe congestion that you experience here. The mechanism of action that Afrin is providing your sinuses is similar to that of caffeine or amphetamine, except targeted to a specific area in your nose.
If you have an Oxymetazoline addiction like I did, then you’ll know that this chemical solution is only short term. In addition to that, Oxymetazoline HCl is well known for its risks of side effects. Doctors also suggest that you should not use Afrin for more than three days in a row because there is a high risk of “rebound congestion” which is basically your congestion coming back tenfold.
Thinking back on my Afrin addiction days, I’m thinking about why I even tried it in the first place if those were the health risks. The natural and non-habit forming nasal spray with xylitol that I use now is more effective, has no side effects, and doesn’t cause an addiction or withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of Afrin Addiction and Rebounding
If you have been using Afrin decongestant spray for more than 5 days in a row, then you are addicted to it. You will have withdrawal symptoms from Afrin pretty much immediately after you stop using it.
You probably know exactly what I am talking about: the congestion comes back and you can’t breathe!
The rebound or Afrin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Longer term redness inside the nasal passage
- Longer term swelling inside your nose
- Severe nasal congestion
- Increase in runny nose severity and duration
- Itching and irritation inside the nasal passages
If you are experiencing these symptoms, asking your doctor for help would be a good idea because this is a common problem for many people with allergies. However, many doctors are often the cause of the addiction in the first place because they were the ones who prescribed it or recommended it over-the-counter for you.
Many will just recommend you make an immediate switch to another chemical nasal decongestant or allergy spray like Flonase Fluticasone. This won’t solve the problem of your Afrin withdrawals. Oxymetazoline is a steroid that physically affects your nasal passages in a way that a substitute decongestant spray won’t truly help.
However, many find that another nasal congestion spray along with an antihistamine or decongestant pill does assist in their overcoming of Afrin addiction. I guess that it helps by reducing the amount of mucus in your nasal passageways so that it prevents it all from clogging your nose.
Does Cold Turkey Work for Nasal Spray Addiction?
These drugs may help you breathe for a short time. But when I tried this method, the congestion rebound withdrawals quickly came back. It’s not like I should have taken multiple 24-hour allergy pills because that’s risky in itself. Then at that point, it’s just a downward spiral of chemical addictions and the only way to get through it is to take nothing for a few days and insert a breathing tube in your nose. LOL!
It’s easier than that, though.
Cold turkey typically isn’t the best option for getting over your addiction to Afrin spray because it can prevent you from breathing and getting adequate amounts of oxygen to your brain. Especially if you are a busy working person, getting enough oxygen is important and you need your nose to be working normally for high function.
Simply cutting out your nasal spray cold turkey does work for some people, but you’ll need a few days vacation without intense exercise. It’s up to how your mental ability can go about getting over this addiction, like others. If you drink coffee every day and then you don’t drink it at all one day, you’ll definitely have a bad, unproductive day right? Same for tobacco, stimulants and alcohol.
What’s the Best Treatment for Recovery from Decongestant Spray Addiction?
In my opinion, the best cure for any addiction is to taper off. This has been proven by science to work for the majority of the human population, but some do have more success with the cold turkey treatment.
This means that you should continue using your Oxymetazoline allergy spray, but just slowly monitor your usage and cut back step-by-step. This is so that you will only have to suffer in small amounts spread across multiple periods throughout the day. That way, you will still have the option to relieve your uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you feel like you need to.
The trick is to play a little game with the recovery. The same can be done with ANY type of chemical addiction. Just try to go as long as you can without taking a hit of your Afrin spray. Even if you are a little congested, try to power through as long as you can. You should understand that the short-term suffering is the key to breaking through addiction and gaining success.
Just power through as long as you can, and if you can’t go on without struggling to focus on proper breathing–don’t worry. If the nasal spray withdrawals are too much, then just take a spray of it. There’s no need to torture yourself. You are on this planet to live and you have years of time ahead of you to get through multiple more obstacles.
Don’t be ashamed that you failed to conquer your decongestant addiction just because you relapsed on a hit of nasal spray. Just feel inspired and motivated because the next round will be even easier. You just need to last a longer time without the congestion spray.
Eventually, you will have gone days and then a week without using it at all. It might be rough depending on the type of person you are. But if you persevere often and love success, you should have no problem. It isn’t crack, after all.
There are some supplements and methods that can assist you during the withdrawal period from Oxymetazoline nasal sprays.
My Personal Experience with Afrin Nasal Decongestant Addiction
I was using Afrin nasal decongestant spray for about 3 months every day to treat my seasonal allergies to pollen during high school. My allergies gave me the symptoms of congestion that were unbearable. I would go to blow my nose and I couldn’t even push anything out, as if there was a thick wall of nasty in my nose.
The most popular nasal spray and the one being featured on commercials on television was Afrin. It had just hit the market as being over-the-counter rather than only available by prescription. My entire family was using it, as well as my friends and teachers, so I tried it and the Oxymetazoline spray instantly worked.
So what do people usually do when something works? I guess they try it again when they need it to. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that I would develop an addiction to this nasal spray.
I would keep a bottle of Afrin in my jacket, one in my car, a box underneath my bed, and one in my locker. Yeah, I was an addict to this stuff.
I realized that it was a problem when the decongestant spray stopped working efficiently. I sprayed it, but it just didn’t work and then I quickly got congested again. Then, I started sneezing HARD and all the stuff came out, which was embarassing as hell if I was in public. Ew I just wanted to be normal again.
Therefore, I tried the tapering-off technique that I described. I also used age-old natural methods to help ease the symptoms of Afrin withdrawal.
A nasal irrigator like a neti pot worked well for me. When I was severely stuffed up, I would use a saline solution in the neti pot to remove all the mucus.
And it feels sooooooo good.
Check out more information about my review of neti pots for allergies here.
There are other methods of irrigating your nasal passageways as well, like if you’re in public. An excellent product that has helped me with congestion and allergies for years is a gentle and natural nasal spray with water and xylitol. It effectively drains mucus and prevents sneezing while opening the airways and it isn’t habit-forming or physically damaging.
It’s like a combination of a neti pot with an allergy spray and a decongestant for half the price of one of those.
This is an awesome price that I use. It’s cheaper than Afrin and you can’t beat the quality. I always keep one at home just in case I get a little stuffy and I know I won’t get addicted to it.
What Do I Do About My Allergies and Congestion After My Struggle?
That’s a great question and I think I can answer it effectively because I actually got rid of my allergies. It’s not believable, but I don’t think that popular science really discusses the root cause of allergies and their mechanisms.
I had allergies to every season, dust, food intolerances to all legumes, seafood, and nuts, while suffering with oral allergy syndrome to each season as well. I was allergic to basically everything except bread and meat.
Something that really helped me was coming across the information about common nutrient deficiencies that humans are experiencing right now. Due to the poor quality of our fertile soils, our crops lack specific minerals that are not allowed to properly turn over in nature.
One of the biggest mineral deficiencies we are experiencing as a species is with sulfur. The way we are reusing soils so rapidly doesn’t allow the ground to degrade and replace natural sulfur, which can be absorbed into the crops and foods that we eat.
I had considered sulfur deficiency as a problem for me and I was absolutely shocked at the number of health problems that this deficiency can cause. From infestation of parasitic WORMS, to allergies/food intolerances, to depression/anxiety/fatigue, and digestive issues, I definitely needed to give an organic sulfur supplement like this a try.
Everybody seemed to praise the benefits of MSM, an isolated source of bioavailable sulfur that is used in our cells directly for function. MSM is actually what is used in our cells and we can supplement with it directly. After taking just one dose, I felt so much better with more energy, clarity, and joy.
It was like I filled a hole in my health that was there for my entire life. After supplementing for a few weeks, I began to poop out parasitic worms in the toilet (sorry it’s gross but intestinal worms are a common problem and you don’t even know that you have them), my skin and hair quality improved tremendously, and my seasonal allergies and food intolerances disappeared.
I no longer need allergy drugs, antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants, or anything like that and I don’t take any pills at all. Although, sometimes if I eat unhealthy or drink too much alcohol, I may experience allergy symptoms the next day. But the xylitol nasal spray works great for that.
Please comment below with your story of Afrin addiction and let’s help each other through this obstacle!
Talk to you soon,