I Have a Nose Spray Addiction – I’m Addicted to Afrin

Afrin nose spray addiction

This is a story on how I relieved my Afrin addiction with some simple helpful tips.

So there I am standing in the isle of of the drugstore with a head cold and sinus congestion when I see a bottle of Afrin. Twelve hours of nasal congestion relief?

Sign me up. I got some important phone calls to make at work and I can’t sound like I’m all stuffed up and sick. I gotta be professional sounding and clear headed.

How My Nose Spray Addiction Started

There is nothing worse than lying in bed at night trying to go to sleep with a stuffy nose. Finally there was something that I could take before bed that would allow me to breathe through my nose… Afrin nose spray.

The results were phenomenal. A couple of sprays up each nostril and within minutes I was able to breathe through my nose. So I stuck the Afrin in my pocket and it remained there for many weeks.

Why had I never used nose spray before? Why isn’t everyone using nose spray throughout their colds? Well, unfortunately I found out the hard way why it is not a good idea to use Afrin throughout the duration of your head cold.

Why Afrin Has a Hold on Me

There are warnings on the back of the Afrin bottle that explain that you should not use Afrin longer than three days in a row. I did read that warning. I however, did not pay attention to that warning. The sinus clearing results that I got from using nose spray were too good to just stop.

I decided on the fourth night to go ahead and use Afrin for another night.

What I wasn’t aware of when I decided to use Afrin longer than the recommended durations is a little something called rebound congestion. Rebound congestion occurs when vascular constricting properties of nose sprays begin to cause abnormal swelling of the nasal mucosa.

This can block the nasal airway completely, causing extreme discomfort.

Rebound congestion is temporarily relieved by the use of nose spray giving the person a small window of relief. You can see how this can become a vicious circle right? Too much nose spray use causes more nasal congestion that can only be relieved by using even more nose spray… etc., etc.

So the answer to the problem of rebound congestion seems simple right? Just stop using the noses spray and allow your nasal mucosa to return to normal. Well that is much easier said that done. Being unable to breathe properly through your nose can drive you crazy. It can send you running right back to that nose spray even though you know that it’s the nose spray that’s causing the problem.

How I’m Breaking Free from My Afrin Addiction

Now, you could just stop using nose sprays altogether and suffer with your rebound congestion for a couple of weeks until it goes away and you will be broken of your dependence on nose sprays.

I don’t see myself doing that so I have done some reading up on the subject and have begun a one nostril at a time withdrawal program.


That’s right. I still use Afrin in one of my nostrils and am allowing the other nostril to heal.

Once this first nostril is all healed and I can breathe through it, I plan on stopping the use of Afrin in the second nostril. After a little while I will be able to breathe comfortably again through my nose without the use of nose sprays.

So how are you planning on breaking your nose spray addiction? I would love to hear people’s different methods for breaking nose spray addiction.

Important Update: Hello everyone. This is Ken Savage the author of this post. I wanted to tell you that I’m building a new community website around Nose Spray and Afrin addiction.  I working with an ENT Dr and a retired ENT nurse on common conditions of nasal congestion, ways to relieve the pressure and inflammation and how to get off of the nose sprays.

I’ll also let you know in an email and comment here when the new site is complete.  Should only be 2 weeks or so. I have a dozen articles written already and hope to provide you more help and information.

Good luck on your struggles everyone and let’s hope we can all work together to free ourselves from nose spray addiction.

Dad, writer and photographer. Living the dream with my son Jake. I travel the world making friends and experiences while building my network or properties and friends.

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976 comments on “I Have a Nose Spray Addiction – I’m Addicted to Afrin
  1. chinnie says:

    I had a 4 year addiction in the early 00s to Afrin. An allergist prescribed cortisone spray and some tablets (can’t remember which), a treatment that did wonders and I’ve been Afrin-free ever since… Until this week, when I caught a cold and used it for temp. relief, thinking I was being careful. But I wasn’t. I’ve been congested for 3 days and trying to de-congest with cortisone and vaporub. I hope it goes away soon. Afrin and sprays alike should be taken off the market.

    • chinnie says:

      Replying to this post to update that I’m Afrin-free again. I did the Rhinocort + Saline + Vicks Vaporub + steam + TheraFlu for a week and now I’m not congested anymore from the cold or Afrin. :)

  2. scorpio21489 says:

    I am 41 years old, and I first started using nose spray at ten yrs old. I used it on and off over the years, but the last few have been worse. I need to get off this, I am sick and tired of it having control over my life. I bought sinus buster, but haven’t used it yet. I thought the capsaicin cream was awful, so i’m having a hard time deciding to put it up my nose. I also bought saline. I have an appointment with my dr. But in the meantime I am gonna try all the great suggestions I read about on this site. I had no idea there were so many people in the same boat as me. This stuff shouldn’t be on the market. I will beat this addiction, not only cause I want to, but because I have to. Good luck to everyone. Please give updates.

    • Rachel says:

      I was addicted to afrin for 9 years. Recently I found this thread and would read the posts over and over again. Finally I decided I would give it a try. First I slowly started decreasing the number of times per day that I used the Afrin. I used saline also ( not sure if it helped or not) then once I got down to six sprays per day, I started using the flonase nasal spray( doctor prescribed) I was able to completely wean off . I’ve been off the Afrin completely now for a week, but am still using the flonase once per day. I can finally breathe at night and am so happy to feel normal again.

  3. Carlos says:

    Hi everyone I started using afrin for about 7 months and the way I quit using it is doing the one nostril at a time. I quit spraying my right nostril but I was still using spray for left side it took about 15 days for my right nostril to be completely heal then when I was good in my right nostril I stoped using in the left side but this time I bought nasacort it’s not addictive I just used to help me more for my nasal rebound and it’s been about a month I have not touch that stuff I thank god I’m not using it no more. I hope this work for u guys good luck

  4. Elisha says:

    Having that much screen realestate to look at and interact with websites is indeed a whole new experience.

    Maybe you travel for work or maybe you are lucky enough to
    jet set for enjoyment.

  5. Taylor says:

    I’ve been “on the bottle” for the last seven years now. People always thought I was joking when I told them I was addicted to nasal spray. I have finally decided to break the addiction but I absolutely HATE being congested. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with it.

  6. Heather says:

    I have been using nasal spray (Equate, Afrin generic) for more years than I think I even want to admit to myself. I have always had sinus problems but I was diagnosed with anxiety over a year ago. I have had a lot of questions regarding this diagnosis because I have never been one to crack under pressure. Now, after TONS of research I started getting links suggesting nasal spray can cause some of my “anxiety” symptoms- rapid heartbeat, palpatations, dizziness, etc. I have tried unsuccessfully to get off the stuff on my own and finally got in to see an ENT today. But they symptom I was most concerned with arose in recent weeks- constriction in my throat. The Dr I saw is spectacular. So understanding and listens so incredibly well. He indeed does not think I have generalized anxiety but anxiety and panic induced by the side effects nasal spray can cause! Which include rapid heart rate, palpitations, high blood pressure… and my throat is swollen because it is so dry because my rebound congestion is so bad and Im breathing so heavily through my mouth. Incredible. I was given a new steroid spray and a small dose steroid shot. He told me the next few days will be miserable. And I am feeling that in the WORST way currently. However I plan to stick to his plan. The RX spray twice daily and the injection. I have a follow up appointment next week. He says I should feel a noticable difference in about 2 days as long as I refrain from using the otc nasal spray, which I will. I will update as I progress. I truly wish everyone here luck. I had no idea so many people had this same problem. Its nice to know I am at least not struggling alone.

    • Joshua says:

      THANK YOUUUU so much for your testimonial!! I’m a 27 year old male suffering from constant “asthma attacks” and was relying on afrin to keep my nose open. I’m feeling the effects of rebound congestion and was worried that the anxiety was my problem! I will quit now, suck it up, and buy a netti pot to see if it helps moisturize things again! Thank you!

      • Heather says:

        Joshua, while my anxiety is not completely subsiding, I am not having daily struggles with breathing and rapid heart rate etc, tripping me into a panic attack. I updated below but, Ill tell u directly, see and ENT and ask about a steroid shot u get quarterly (every 3 months) and Dymista spray. I used breathe right strips and Vicks vaporub on my chest neck and feet. Also possibly look in Young Living Essential Oils… they are a true miracle. I have a family member educating me on how to use them and plan to purchase a kit soon. Im using cool mist humidifiers in my home 24/7 to re-moisten all the damage done by the otc nasal spray and they also help a lot. Much luck and I hope u have great results!

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  9. Stephanie C says:

    Hi my name is Stephanie. Im 24, and Im from New York. Ive been using menthol afrin nasal spray, originally because of a cold but now I cannot breathe without it. I wake up in the morning and experience a pretty bad panic attack because when I can’t breathe, my heart starts racing and I have to get up and walk around and eventually use afrin again. I’m scared I wont be able to get off of it, I just looked it up on google because I just used it and tried to blow my nose and Its bleeding and I’m scared. Reading your stories and seeing how similar they are is a little bit of a relief, I have people who think Im just joking when I try to explain it. It can be frustrating. Im considering going to a doctor, but I feel like they wont listen because I use to be addicted to pain meds and everytime I explain anything they just assume im out to get pills :(

  10. G.N.Argust says:

    I kicked habit using Walgreens Ephrine drops 1% (phenylephrine HCI-w/o alcohol) diluted with sterile water 50/50. Used the one nostril idea and increased water 60/40 then 70/30 etc. In side healing up I soothed it with Ayr saline and XClear spray. Oral decongestants can help but pseudonephrine can ruin sleep. Stay hydrated, use moist air and saline rinses before bed. Good luck and don’t give up.

  11. Adam says:

    Hey all,

    I’m 27 and I became addicted to the stuff just recently.

    I have terrible allergies and my nose was constantly plugged. I knew from past experience how effective Afrin is, so I started using it. After three days, I was still plugged, so I figured I could keep using it until the season passed.

    I stayed on it for two weeks. I am now completely hooked and can’t breathe without it. I can’t sleep because of it, and I start a new job next week.

    I’m trying two things: first, I’m going to try curing one nostril at a time, as many have suggested, and two, I’m going to use 4-hour Afrin instead of 12-hour, just enough to allow me to fall asleep. I can deal with the blockage during the day.

    Thoughts and prayers welcome. I must kick this stuff.

  12. Celinda says:

    Nu mulți turiști ajunge pentru a vizita acest parc ; cu toate acestea
    aș recomanda adăuga la planul de călătorie propriu .
    Când joci cu gâtul ei , tu ar trebui să facă un efort pentru a rula ușor degetele
    de-a lungul ea și sărut acest domeniu ușor

  13. Heather says:

    Update: the first night after I had seen my ENT and received a steroid shot and a prescription spray (Dymista) was miserable. However I committed and threw out my otc nasal spray and never turned back. I used those breathe right nasal strips and a vaporizer and Vicks on my chest, neck and feet for a couple nights. Im happy to report that other than that first night, I havent had any issues at all. Im not using otc spray anymore and I feel much better overall. I am grateful for finding such a knowledgeable and caring ENT to help me and Im grateful my weaning process was not as long nor as horrible as I had expected. I recommend asking about Dymista and this steroid shot though. It is supposed to be given every 3 months and controls all 5 allergy triggers year around if kept up on. I feel the combination has truly helped me. Also, I bought two cool mist humidifiers and I run them 24/7 to re-moisturize everything the otc spray dried out and burned, per my ENT’s recommendation as well. Its been a great help too.

  14. Chris says:

    I have two options at this point. I only use one shot of afrin in each side about 2-3 times per day, but regardless, the rebound congestion has no limits. I purchased a Rhinostat kit that was about $40 that slowly weans you off by replacing the drug with saline. I also just bought sinus buster from CVS. Its a natural spray that has a pepper as its active ingredient. I dont mind being slightly stuffed up, but at night, having both sinuses completely obstructed is unacceptable. Ill report back when I have a better idea of what option worked best.

  15. Val says:

    Looking foward to your update!

  16. Steve L says:

    Somewhere on the web I read that for best effect, make sure you spray and breathe in with the Sinus Buster so it goes sufficiently deep enough (if necessary wait and do a second burst after the first has cleared some of your sinus.) It could be that people aren’t getting the spray far enough along your entire passageway. You will know how far you’ve sprayed by the feeling in your nose. ;) But again, I haven’t found it to be that bad. I’m sure the sensation is different for each person though, based on the varied responses about how bad the burn is.

  17. cat says:

    Chris, definitely want to hear your results!

  18. abby says:

    hey chris! how’s it going?

  19. svolan117 says:

    read my comment above yours man

  20. rubymusic1 says:

    I’ve read about pepper(active ingredient)works very well but i’m yet to try it. I find saline solution itself usually helps wean off of afrin very well. I also have a terrible problem with rebound congestion.

    Good luck with whichever you decide to use!

  21. hookedonafrin says:

    did this ever work?

  22. Majella says:

    Hey Chris,

    I’m also thinking of using the Rhinostat system to wean off Otrivine (similar to Afrin). Just wondering if you found it of any benefit?


  23. Pam says:

    What option works best or do I need to do both?

  24. bill gimbel says:

    sinus buster made it worse for me

  25. Ronda says:

    Went to the doctor today and he had two interesting suggestions. Told me to try 600 mg of ibuprofen every six hours to help with the inflammation and a nasal rinse called Alkalol, which you can find at CVS. It’s a natural rinse with peppermint, eucalyptus and menthol oils.

    It’s been one day of this and I’m noticing some improvement. It’s slow, but I don’t feel like I’m going to suffocate and it’s actually quite sooting to use the Alkalol rinse

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "I Have a Nose Spray Addiction – I’m Addicted to Afrin"
  1. […] nose spray addiction started last year when I was having what I swear was the biggest congestion problem on earth. Last […]

  2. […] for this and it is important not to go beyond it like taking nasal spray that could lead to afrin addiction that is an unhealthy quick […]

  3. […] meds, but I figured there had to be another way because those weren’t options for me.  One suggestion that made the most sense, was the single nose […]

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