ARLINGTON — Police Chief Julie Flaherty, Superintendent Elizabeth Homan and Arlington Health & Human Services Director Christine Bongiorno warn of two troubling viral TikTok trends that can result in serious consequences, including property damage, illness, injury and even death.
Officials do not believe that these “challenges” are a prevalent issue in Arlington, but officials would like families to be aware.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Benadryl, have issued warnings against “The Benadryl Challenge”, which encourages TikTok users to take large doses of the medicine in order to supposedly induce hallucinations.
According to the FDA, taking higher than recommended doses of Benadryl can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma or death. The FDA reports teens ending up in the emergency room, and at least one death have been reported as a result of participation in the social media challenge.
“Misuse of medications like Benadryl puts people at a high risk of injury or worse,” Bongiorno said. “Medication should only be taken as directed by the manufacturer or a doctor. By spreading awareness about the challenge and its negative effects, we hope to educate parents and teens alike about these reckless and dangerous social media posts.”
In order to prevent misuse, families are advised to secure and lock up allergy medicine. Residents are reminded that they can safely dispose of any unused, unwanted or expired medications at the disposal drop box located in the lobby of the Arlington Police Department. The box is available 24/7.
Arlington Police installed the drop box in June 2012 in partnership with the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition. The box is part of the town’s continued efforts to reduce the supply of these medications within the community, especially those likely to be misused.
Residents also are reminded to immediately call 911 In the event of an overdose.
Additionally, school districts across the nation have reported an uptick in vandalism and stealing as a result of the viral “Devious Licks” Challenge. The challenge encourages students to post videos of themselves or others stealing or vandalizing school property, including removing soap dispensers off walls, clogging toilets, dismantling sinks and more.
“It is our goal to foster a safe and welcoming environment for learning inside the school, and this can only be done if our school property and those in the school are treated with respect,” said Superintendent Homan. “Stealing or vandalizing school property is not harmless, and students could get in serious trouble if they participate. We encourage all our students to treat each other, their teachers and their surroundings with respect.”
Arlington officials encourage parents to discuss these trends with their children in order to make them aware of the consequences and discourage participation.
“We urge parents to talk to their students about these dangerous trends and the implications of these types of actions,” said Chief Flaherty. “Short-lived fame on social media is not worth the potentially harmful impacts that these trends could have.”
For questions about these challenges, parents and guardians are urged to contact their child’s principal.