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.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in How-To
1,247 comments on “I Have a Nose Spray Addiction – I’m Addicted to Afrin
  1. Long Overdue says:

    I want to thank everyone who has contributed their feedback to this post. It has greatly helped me formulate my plan of action to break this terrible addiction. I have been using for about 5-6 years and am beginning to wonder how it is impacting my overall health. I know it will not be an easy task, but I am committed to it. My plan starts TODAY. Encouragement and tips are greatly appreciated. I will report back on progress!

    • Becca says:

      I have also been battling with Afrin since I was 15 years old…so 25 years! I have managed to go off of it once, but then I got a cold virus shortly after and went right back on it. Anyway, I just saw my ENT and Allergist, they both told me how damaging my use can end up being, as in, a hole in my septum causing a permanent whistle when I breath. I’ve been given an RX for 40mg of Prednisone for 5 days, and also Sudafed for the oral relief.

      Another little trick I have picked up along the way for immediate relief when you experience that unbearable stuffiness with the inability to swallow (this helped me last time I quit) is to plug your nose with your thumb and forefinger, let all the air out of your lungs, and hold it until you absolutely can’t stand it any longer – then let go and take a breath. Something with the carbon dioxide imbalance causes tissue to shrink and you get a few minutes of relief. I wouldn’t do it very often though as I’m not sure if it kills brain cells in the process!

  2. Jake says:

    I got addicted to nasal spray. Was like I was suffocating without it… I read online to spray it in just one nostril, I chose right nostril, always right nostril… Because when you are starting to get stuffy and can’t breathe I would forget. But right nostril was the side I kept using the nasal spray. It took a few days, but the left side completely recovered and didn’t get congested any more and allowed me to breathe through one nostril naturally. Then I noticed I could go longer without using on right side until that eventually went away. I also used Claritin D, but there were other side affects from that I noticed, like temporary ed… Yeah, it’s what they prescribe to get rid of the over four hour problem… But feel for people who are going through this. It was kind of scary, and I felt trapped to nasal spray, making sure I had a stashed bottle so I didn’t get stuck without it. I couldn’t talk, without that stuffed nose voice. One nostril fix. Good luck.

  3. Steve Bigelow says:

    I have to wear a C-Pap mask with O2 at night due to Sleep Apnea. The mask that I like to use is much like an oversized canula that forces air and oxygen through my nose at night in order to keep my O2 levels high enough. I keep my mouth closed and use an “ACT” dry mouth lozenge to keep my mouth from becoming so dry that I can’t sleep.

    I started using a nose spray with Oxymetazoline HCL 0.05 %, which miraculously allowed me to do all my breathing at night through my nose. What a nightmare that turned out to be after using it much longer than I was supposed to. Its now going on 2 years and has gotten so bad that I have to mainline it, rather than spray it, by tipping my head back far enough and tipping the bottle upside down to squirt a stream of Oxy down my nose into my sinuses to be able to get any relief. I don’t reccomend this to anyone else because it just makes things worse in the long run.

    I have gotten off this stuff before and I am going to use the same methodolgy that worked before. It took about four days to get off this stuff to be able to breath easily through my nostrils again and wear my canula mask while sleeping. The use of the canula mask also helps keep my nostrils clear so that is the right mask for me and maybe for you if you have a problem breathing through you nose while sleeping.

    First I take a short course of Prednisone to calm down the inflamation. Along with that I use a NSAID to help with the same inflamation in my sinuses. I flush my sinuses out with a combination of warm salt water and “Alkolol” first thing after wake up and several more times a day. This really helps me to partially be able to breath through my nostrils. I also use flonase with a steriod in it which helps. My sinuses clear up and back to normal with in 3-5 days. And this methodology makes it much easier on you than not doing so. I also use the one nostril method at times when I have to to be able to breath.

    Now this method may be overkill and you could get off the nose spray without doing all the things I do, but when it gets really bad you want to use everthing you can that might help you start breathing normally again.

    I know this will work for anyone if they are just willing to be disciplined enough for the 3 – 5 days that it may take. And then once off of it, don’t go that route again. Good Luck!

  4. Mike Cafarella says:

    I have been suffering with Afrin for around 40 years. Prior to that, I used Dristan for 10 years because 12 hour stuff wasn’t available OTC yet. That’s a total of 50 years! I’ve had deviated septum surgery at age 20 and been to doctors numerous time, nothing worked. I am going to try Sinus Buster, I’ve read good things about it. Wish me luck!

  5. Derek says:

    I struggled with afrin addiction since I was 7 my father got me using it every time I got sick. It wasn’t till I was 23 I was able to break free. My trick was simple, but a new bottle of afrin ( preferably the largest bottle) and some saline solution. Use afrin as much as u need it however everyday add two drops of saline into the bottle it will slowly dilute it as well as ur dependency. After a month I was free I hope this helps u all and good luck.

  6. Beckie says:

    Wow! Just think how we have all kept this company in business! It’s a highly-addictive drug that technically is legal to buy and use. I am going to try the one-nostril method, too. My family is worried about my constant use. I keep spare boxes in the car, in the linen closet, on the night table, in my desk at work – I’m terrified to run out! Time to get control of this before 50 years of use creeps up on me!

  7. 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.

  8. Val says:

    Looking foward to your update!

  9. 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.

  10. cat says:

    Chris, definitely want to hear your results!

  11. abby says:

    hey chris! how’s it going?

  12. svolan117 says:

    read my comment above yours man

  13. 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!

  14. hookedonafrin says:

    did this ever work?

  15. 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?


  16. Pam says:

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

  17. Angel says:

    I also tried to natural pepper spray stuff it burns and makes your eyes water. It doesnt make my nose as clear as afrin did but it does help. I cant take nasacort becsuse im pregnant or i would do that.

  18. bill gimbel says:

    sinus buster made it worse for me

  19. 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

  20. TJ says:

    I’ve been on nasal spray for 3 yrs. I really need help…

  21. Katir says:

    I’m happy to have found this website….I felt like I was the only one with this problem! I’ve been using Afrin for about a year and a half now. I’ve been researching how to stop because I can’t handle not being able to breathe out of my nose. I will try the one nostril method I think.

  22. Emily is Afrin Free says:

    TJ, PLEASE read my post on how I broke the Afrin addiction. I was dependent on that horrible stuff for SEVENTEEN YEARS!! I have tried other methods, but I always felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t get ANY air through my nostrils, and swallowing was a complete nightmare. It was HORRENDOUS!!

    If the “one nostril at a time” method REALLY worked! I didn’t do it all at once. Heck, I was on the stuff for so long that it didn’t matter if it took two weeks.

    One week, I did Flonase. Two squirts in both nostrils every morning… ALONG with the Afrin. I gave myself one week for the cortisone to start working on shrinking my sinuses.

    After that, I stopped using Afrin in my left nostril. It was plugged, at first, it I still used Afrin in my right nostril, so I could still breathe.

    After two days of doing that, I gradually used less and less Afrin in my right nostril, going longer and longer between squirts.

    The last time I used it, I barely used a drop. And I had NO PROBLEM breathing.

    So the next day… I stopped completely. And I haven’t needed it since! I didn’t suffer, I didn’t drown or choke, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. If I had known, years ago, that I could’ve broken that horrible cycle, I would have done the very same thing.

    And if I can do it, after SEVENTEEN YEARS, I can’t see why it wouldn’t work for you. As long as your not allergic to Flonase, or similar cortisone nasal sprays, it’s really worth a try. (PLEASE ask your doctor first, just to be sure you’re able to use it without causing damage.

    Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor. I was an Afrin sufferer, like you, so this isn’t legal medical advice. It’s just what worked for ME.

    After two weeks, I’m still breathing normally! And I haven’t looked back since. There are days when I stop to think about the ENORMITY of what I had accomplished… And I am SO PROUD OF MYSELF!!

    It really IS possible to break the Afrin addiction. And hopefully, if your body responds to the Flonase, like mine did, you won’t have to suffer throughout the healing process. (Again, please check with your doctor. I he/she is anything like mine, they will support and encourage you through it. Don’t be afraid to tell them.)

    I wish you ALL THE BEST!!!! Please post to let us know how you’re doing. I really AM rooting for you. This addiction is horrible, and I hope, hope, hope that you have the same success that I did.

    And I also wish that for EVERYONE who is suffering from Afrin addiction. Please, if you’re doctor gives you the ok, and you’re able to use Flonase, PLEASE give it a try.

    I never thought I’d be able to break the addiction, but I am a walking, talking, BREATHING testimonial!

    All the best and GOOD LUCK!!!

  23. Mike says:

    I had this addiction until about a month ago. But imagine having the addiction in only one nostril! I knew about the blow back effect since the late 1980’s, so when I used a spray I only used it in one nostril at a time – only my right side, since my left side never seemed to clog as bad.

    At night, I could spray my right nostril and sleep on my right side – my left side would drain to the right, while the right side stayed clear. But I wound up doing that for YEARS.

    For anyone about to use the “One Nostril” technique. Just DO IT. The only way I was able to break my “habit” was by accident. One day at work, I just got too busy to use a spray – it was that simple. So my nose clogged, but it wasn’t so bad, since I didn’t have time to notice. On my way home from work that night it occurred to me that I hadn’t used any spray since early that morning, so I decided I would try to go “all the way”. Here is what happened to ME:

    Having only been treating one nostril, my one nostril clogged completely, while my left side stayed clear. I went to the drug store and bought some Breathe Right strips. It pulled my swollen right side open and life was good – I slept well that night. The next day was a Saturday, so when I needed to, I could put another strip on my nose. After not long of doing this, I noticed a sore starting up on the bridge of my nose. Turns out, my skin is sensitive to the glue. Thankfully, they make a clear one that uses a less caustic glue.

    Over the course of the next week something strange happened. I could breathe fine on my RIGHT side, but my LEFT side clogged!! This made no sense to me, but it happened. It got so bad I almost went back to the bottle. I went through a two week period of cycling on and off, wide open to completely clogged, sometimes in the space of a few minutes, in BOTH nostrils.

    Fortunately, after about two weeks I finally cleared up and have stayed clear since. Here are some suggestions you might use to help out:

    1. Do NOT drink coffee or alcohol during your rehab. Both dehydrated me and clogged my nose NOTICEABLY after only a few minutes. Staying off both helped.
    2. Drink water. Hydration is a GOOD thing.
    3. Use the clear nasal strips – they are an absolute lifesaver. Remember, your nose is most likely NOT filled with mucus. It’s the tissues that have swollen, and pulling them open with those strips WORKS.
    4. Remember that even when you are treating only one nostril, the other one is getting a little assist (at least that seems to have been the case for me). When I finally stopped using, my OTHER nostril went berserk.
    5. One last thing that got me over the hump – I bought one of those menthol inhalers. These don’t really decongest you at all. But they do give you a little sensation in your nostril, which (at least for me) makes it seem as though you are getting some circulation in there. I didn’t go crazy on it – just used it on particularly bad times. Frequently, I would use it and after an hour or so, my nose would naturally unclog anyway.
    6. Exercise. When you move around you get your adrenaline going, which will naturally decongest you a little. For me, it seemed to be climbing stairs.

    Finally, you CAN do it. If I could do it, so can you. And I’m truly better off now. Good LUCK!

  24. Joe says:

    Ok So I went through a period of time to where I couldn’t breathe without affrin. It was actually so bad that I was using so much Affrin that Affrin wasn’t working that well either. I actually thought I was gonna have to go to the ER one night and I am not a nervous person.. I actually found a way to kick the addiction within 3 days and still have some relief during the process.. Hope this helps..

    First I would use a salt water salene that actually shot up your nose with force to clean it out.. Do that 3 – 4 times a day for a week.

    On the first day after the use of the salt water salene take 2 sprays of Affrin in each nostril. Wait a half hour and then spray a nose spray that you can get from a Dr. That has a steroid in it.. Do that in the morning and night.

    On Day 2 and 3 only use the Affrin in One Nostril morning and night but continue to use the steroid in
    both nostrils 3 times that day..

    On day 4 and 5 switch Nostrils with Affrin it necessary which you may not have to..

    Continue use of the steroid spray for another few days and you should be cured..

5 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 […]

  4. […] How I Cured My Afrin Addiction – No Drugs and No Rebound – How My Nose Spray Addiction … (brand name Afrin) nasal spray for 6 … Seeing a ENT and getting medical treatment instead of trying to do it cold turkey or one … […]

  5. […] the Addiction. I really try to avoid becoming an addict. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I am addicted to Afrin, but that’s a different story. This week I learned I really am an addict. So, here’s goes. My name is Daniel, and I’m […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *