Arlington officials warn against dangerous viral TikTok trends

"Short-lived fame on social media is not worth the potentially harmful impacts that these trends could have."

Kiichiro Sato / AP, File

Arlington authorities are warning teenagers to stop participating in two potentially harmful TikTok trends, the “Benedryl Challenge” and the “Devious Licks Challenge.

“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,” wrote a release from the town.

Officials reported they do not believe these challenges are Arlington-specific issues, but rather hope to inform Arlington families of the viral trends’ serious consequences.

The Benadryl Challenge encourages TikTokers to film themselves consuming large doses of Benadryl to allegedly create hallucinations. Both Johnson & Johnson and the US Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings against the challenges due to the serious and potentially fatal harm Benadryl overdosing can cause.


“We are investigating these reports and conducting a review to determine if additional cases have been reported,” the FDA wrote in a statement. “We will update the public once we have completed our review or have more information to share.”

According to the FDA, the challenge has resulted in some teens being sent to the emergency room and one teen dying.

“Taking higher than recommended doses of the common over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death,” the FDA wrote.


“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.” 

The second challenge is known as the “Devious Licks Challenge” which involves students stealing or vandalizing school property for viewership on TikTok. The release listed “removing soap dispensers off walls, clogging toilets, dismantling sinks” as examples of the challenge’s contents.

“Stealing or vandalizing school property is not harmless, and students could get in serious trouble if they participate,” said Homan. “We encourage all our students to treat each other, their teachers and their surroundings with respect.” 


Videos relating to both challenges have been taken down by TikTok for “violating community guidelines.”

To prevent Benadryl misuse, Arlington officials are asking families to secure the medicine and safely dispose of any medication at the Arlington Police Department dropbox, which is open 24/7.

Officials are also asking parents to talk to their children about these types of trends to help inform them of the potentially serious impacts and hopefully dissuade teens away from the trends.

“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.”


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