Teen Boy Lands in the Hospital From a TikTok Challenge That Is Making a Comeback — And His Mom Has a Message for You

TikTok’s viral ‘Benadryl challenge’ is making the rounds again — and the dangerous trend reportedly left another teenager fighting for his life. Now, his mother advising other parents on how to keep their kids safe.

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As NBC New York reported, a New Jersey teen was rushed to the hospital in April after partaking in the challenge, which encourages people to consume large quantities of the over-the-counter allergy medication in the name of getting high.

The 13-year-old boy — whose name has not been shared publicly — was found “curled in a fetal position on the floor, eyes dilated, like staring into space, couldn’t move, couldn’t walk,” according to his mother. He was quickly transferred to an ICU at a neighboring hospital.

Luckily, the New Jersey teen is now home and fully recovered. But other Benadryl challenge participants have not been so fortunate.

As PEOPLE reported last month, Jacob Stevens, a fellow 13-year-old from Ohio, tragically died after trying the viral trend.

“When he did [the challenge], it all came at once, and it was too much for his body,” his father, Justin Stevens, told the local news outlet ABC 6. “No brain scan, there was nothing there. They said we could keep him on the [ventilator], that he could lay there, but he will never open his eyes, he’ll never breathe, smile, walk or talk.”

  • The NJ teen’s mother has an urgent message for other parents.

    Image Credit: Gado via Getty Images

    In the hopes of preventing other teens from overdosing on Benadryl as a result of the challenge, the New Jersey boy’s mother shared an urgent message for fellow parents.

    “We need awareness to help our children and ourselves to become aware of the danger,” she told NBC New York. “We need a safety plan now, and every parent should have one.”

    She also recommended that parents lock up all medication in their household.

    Speaking to ABC 6, Justin, Jacob’s father, emphatically encouraged parents to educate their kids about social media safety and monitor what they’re doing on the apps. After all, that’s where this deadly trend originated.

    “Talk to them about the situation,” he added. “I want everyone to know about my son.”

  • When did the ‘Benadryl challenge’ originate?

    Image Credit: Getty Images

    This isn’t the first time the Benadryl challenge has made headlines. It initially emerged on TikTok in 2020, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning that September.

    “We are aware of news reports of teenagers ending up in emergency rooms or dying after participating in the ‘Benadryl Challenge’ encouraged in videos posted on the social media application TikTok,” agency officials wrote.

    Benadryl’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has also condemned the challenge, calling it “dangerous.”

  • TikTok has also addressed the dangerous and controversial challenge.

    Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    TikTok, the popular video-sharing app where the challenge gained traction, has also responded.

    In the wake of Jacob’s death, a spokesperson for the app expressed their condolences to his family and reiterated TikTok’s committment to protecting its users.

    “We have never seen this type of content trend on our platform and have blocked searches for years to help discourage copycat behavior,” read the statement, which was shared with PEOPLE. “Our team of 40,000 safety professionals works to remove violations of our Community Guidelines, and we encourage our community to report any content or accounts they’re concerned about.”

    The Benadryl challenge clearly violates TikTok’s community guidelines, which ban any content that “describes or provides instructional detail on how to perform a dangerous activity.”

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