It is a widely known fact that mixing alcohol with prescription medications is extremely dangerous. Despite this, mixing alcohol and Adderall has become increasingly common. For people who abuse their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication or take it illegally and recreationally, adding alcohol into the mix may not seem like a big deal. However, these two substances can cause dangerous side-effects that become amplified when combined.
Although using Adderall by prescription or drinking alcohol on occasion is not necessarily lethal, the effects of mixing the two may produce life-threatening complications. Since Adderall reduces the user’s ability to feel the effects of alcohol, he or she may feel encouraged to drink more. One of the main concerns associated with this is that users may develop alcohol poisoning. However, there is an array of dangers and side-effects to be wary of when mixing the two substances.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription stimulant known for treating the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. The medication contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine – two chemicals that work together to manage hyperactivity and impulses. While under a doctor’s supervision, Adderall and similar medications can be beneficial. However, this medication is a Schedule II drug, meaning it is a controlled substance with a high potential for abuse and addiction. Therefore, using the medication comes with many risks – especially when abused.
As a result, many people wonder, “can you drink with Adderall?” Well, that depends on how the medication is being taken and in which manner the alcohol is consumed.
Adderall as Prescribed
Adderall, a blend of several different amphetamine salts, is the leading medication in regards to treating ADHD. This medication works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. By stimulating the central nervous system, people taking this medication for ADHD may experience improved concentration and reduced impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Many people do not endorse the medicinal use of stimulants like Adderall because of their potential for abuse and addiction. However, in reality, people who have ADHD and take stimulant medications may be reducing their risk of drug and alcohol abuse.
In fact, a recent study has shown that people treated with stimulants for ADHD had an 85 percent reduction in risk for substance use disorders. Additionally, this study found that leaving ADHD untreated will significantly increase an individual’s risk for substance abuse disorder. Therefore, taking Adderall can be effective and safe for the treatment of ADHD, as long as you take the medication as prescribed.
While Adderall is beneficial when used properly, this prescription medication is commonly abused. In fact, recent studies have found that more than 7 percent of adults ages 18 to 49 years have abused ADHD medication. Even more concerning, over half of those people reported using ADHD medications in combination with alcohol.
While many different types of people abuse Adderall, a large portion of people misusing this stimulant are college students. This is due to students using this drug in order to stay awake and study for long hours. According to NSDUH, almost 90 percent of students who abuse Adderall have mixed it with alcohol. Therefore, there seems to be a dangerous trend in regards to combining alcohol with Adderall. As a result, it is vital for people to understand the risks and dangers of this combination of substances.
The Dangers of Mixing Adderall with Alcohol
Many people are aware that Adderall is a stimulant, while alcohol is a depressant. Both substances affect a person’s behavior, thought processes, emotions, and mental state. However, there is a common misconception that when an individual mixes the two substances, their effects cancel each other out.
Instead, the two substances compete with each other in the body, ultimately causing dangerous side-effects and serious health issues. Let’s take a deeper look into the many dangerous effects of mixing alcohol and Adderall.
Adderall can dull the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Therefore, when people combine the two substances, they are often unaware of how much alcohol they have consumed. As a result, people will often drink too much, leading to consequences such as alcohol poisoning and risky behavior.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Pale skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slowed or irregular breathing
- Low body temperature
Adderall, like many stimulant drugs, carries a level of risk for potential heart problems. This risk begins to increase once you mix Adderall with other substances, especially alcohol.
When used together, Adderall and alcohol can cause an increased risk for:
- Raised body temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate
- Heart attack
Behavioral and Social Problems
When people abuse any drug, they often experience a significant change in behavior. Sometimes, drinking alcohol can cause feelings of rage, aggressive behavior, and reduced inhibitions in the short-term. When a person drinks alcohol and takes Adderall simultaneously, these behavior changes become amplified. As a result, many people partake in impulsive and risky activities that they would never do while sober.
The Effects of Alcohol on People with ADHD
People who suffer from ADHD have impaired self-control, attention spans, critical thinking skills, and heightened impulsivity. Furthermore, ADHD is linked to lower levels of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, making people with the condition more prone to alcohol or drug abuse and/or addiction. As a result, people who mix alcohol with their medications may fall in love with the euphoric effects that the mixture produces.
However, when abused in the long-term, alcohol depletes levels of dopamine in the brain even further, ultimately making a person’s ADHD symptoms worse. Similarly, alcohol consumption may reduce the effectiveness of one’s medications, leading to more problems down the line. As a result, physicians typically suggest that people who are taking Adderall for ADHD do not consume alcohol.
When someone becomes addicted to the effects of mixing alcohol and Adderall, they put themselves at an increased risk for all of the above-listed health complications. Moreover, people who are battling drug addiction and co-occurring disorders, such as ADHD, tend to have more difficult obstacles to overcome than their peers do when they first attempt to get sober.
If you or a loved one is abusing alcohol and Adderall, it is vital that you seek professional help from a drug rehab near you as soon as possible.
Treatment for Adderall and Alcohol Abuse
Since alcohol and Adderall are both substances that people can become physically dependent on, stopping use will cause withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms have the potential to be moderate, or severe and life-threatening. Therefore, individuals attempting to quit using alcohol, Adderall, or a combination of the two, should seek help through the aid of a medical detox facility. Symptoms of withdrawal may include anxiousness, tiredness, irritability, depression, headaches, nightmares, decreased appetite, vomiting, pupil dilation, tremors, and a fast pulse.
Additionally, for those experiencing an addiction to mixing Adderall and alcohol, detox may not be sufficient enough for long-term recovery. As a result, attending a residential treatment center may provide recovering individuals with the tools and support needed in order to build a strong foundation of sobriety. Treatment centers like PAX Riverbend understand the struggles associated with battling addiction on your own. Because of that, we ensure that each patient’s needs are met through comprehensive and individualized treatment plans.
Get Started on Your Recovery Today
Battling drug and alcohol addiction is never easy, but with the right treatment plan and experienced staff, you can recover. If you or a loved one is addicted to alcohol and Adderall, pick up the phone, and contact a dedicated treatment provider today.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.