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What Happens When You Mix Adderall and Alcohol?

Abusing Adderall and alcohol can lead to serious side effects and addiction.

Abusing Adderall and alcohol can quickly lead to serious side effects and addiction. If you want to know whether it’s safe to use the two drugs together, the short answer is no. But let’s look a little closer at the potential side effects, the risk for addiction, and withdrawal symptoms of Adderall and alcohol. 

If you or a loved one is addicted to Adderall or alcohol, call (512) 262-4426 to find out how the addiction treatment experts at Briarwood Detox Center can help. We offer individualized detox programs for all addictive substances.

Related post: What Are the Long-Term Effects of Adderall?

What is Adderall?

Adderall is the brand name of a prescription drug that is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It’s a central nervous system stimulant that improves focus and concentration. Doctors typically prescribe it to people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But, it can also have the same effects in people without ADHD.

Adderall is produced in tablet form or as a time-release capsule. Doctors start patients off with a small dose and gradually increase it until they reach the most effective dose. It’s categorized as a Schedule II substance, and people should not take it without a prescription because it can cause serious side effects, dependence, and addiction.1

Risks of Adderall abuse

Adderall works by altering certain chemicals that are naturally found in the brain and enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Although this prescription medication can be beneficial for people with ADHD, it can have some harmful side effects if people without ADHD use it recreationally or as a study aid drug.

Most people who abuse Adderall are young adults and professionals trying to enhance their performance at school or work by improving their alertness, attention, or energy. Some people may also misuse Adderall to lose weight. When it’s misused for these purposes, it can create a rush of euphoria and alertness, similar to cocaine. Although the effects of Adderall take longer to kick in than cocaine, they last much longer.

The bulk of people who misuse Adderall are not those with prescriptions. Instead, many people who abuse it get it from a friend or relative who has a prescription for Adderall. Or, they buy it from a dealer or friend illegally.

Some people believe misusing Adderall is safer than using illegal drugs like cocaine because it’s a prescription drug, but this is false. Adderall abuse produces many adverse side effects. For example, common short-term side effects of Adderall abuse include:2

  • Decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in sexual behavior

Long-term side effects of Adderall abuse may include:2

  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Suicidal ideation or suicidal behaviors

Why would someone mix Adderall and alcohol?

People may mix Adderall and alcohol for various reasons:

  • To reduce the unpleasant side effects of Adderall: Adderall is a stimulant, so taking large amounts of it can cause jitteriness and hyperactivity. Some people may drink alcohol to counteract these effects.
  • To counteract the depressant effects of alcohol: College students may use Adderall to party longer, especially when they are intoxicated. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can cause slurred speech, slowed reaction time, and distorts judgment. 
  • Because they are unaware of the risks: Most people know drinking alcohol while using illegal drugs can be dangerous. But some may mistakenly believe that using Adderall with alcohol is safe, just because it’s a prescription drug.

Many drug and alcohol combinations are extremely dangerous, including taking Adderall with alcohol.

What are the dangers of mixing Adderall and alcohol?

Research indicates there are several health risks of taking Adderall and alcohol together. These include:3 

Increased risk of overdose

It’s difficult to determine when you’ve had too much to drink if you’re abusing Adderall with it. As a result, people who use alcohol to negate the unpleasant side effects of the stimulant Adderall are more likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning or an overdose

Poor judgment

Someone under the influence of alcohol and Adderall will have issues with judgment and rational thinking. They may take serious risks that could cause severe injury or death. 

Nausea and vomiting

Although many people use alcohol and Adderall to counteract adverse side effects, this isn’t effective. On the contrary, using them together is more likely to cause harmful side effects such as nausea and vomiting.4

Cardiovascular problems

Excessive vomiting due to Adderall and alcohol consumption can cause dehydration and cardiovascular problems. Taking the two substances together often can cause a lot of stress on the cardiovascular system and cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk for stroke.

Seizures

Mixing Adderall and alcohol can also cause problematic neurological side effects. Seizures, in particular, are likely to occur if you combine these two drugs frequently.

Cognitive issues

Long-term Adderall abuse can damage the central nervous system, causing symptoms like difficulty concentrating, paying attention, and memory problems. People who misuse Adderall long-term may also suffer from depression, feelings of apathy, or psychosis.

Behavioral problems

Research shows people who use Adderall to improve their performance at work or school often tend to have lower grades and lower performance levels than those who don’t misuse Adderall. Abusing Adderall and alcohol is also associated with motivation issues, affecting a person’s behavior at work, school, and home.

Alcohol detox vs. Adderall detox: What to expect

Adderall has a high risk for dependence and misuse, as does alcohol. Regularly misusing either drug or both simultaneously puts you at risk of developing a substance use disorder and addiction. Once you’re addicted to Adderall and alcohol, you’ll experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you go too long without having a dose or if you try to stop using them:

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:5

  • Anxiety
  • Shaky hands
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (a form of severe withdrawal that can include vivid hallucinations, delusions, high blood pressure, fever, heavy sweating, seizures)

Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include:6

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Hunger
  • Panic attacks
  • Vomiting 

Adderall withdrawal can last a few days to a few weeks, and there’s no treatment for it. However, a medical detox program can treat uncomfortable Adderall withdrawal symptoms and help prevent relapse with supportive medical and clinical care round-the-clock.

Withdrawal can be difficult to deal with without professional help. If you experience Adderall withdrawal alongside alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you should seek professional medical care because the symptoms of both withdrawal syndromes can be unpredictable and may become unmanageable.

A medical detox program can help you cope with withdrawal’s physical and psychological symptoms while also providing peer support with group therapy, H&I sessions, and music and art activities.

Related post: Adderall vs. Ritalin: What’s the Difference?

Get help for Adderall and alcohol addiction

Research shows clear evidence that it’s never a good idea to mix alcohol and Adderall. Doing so can result in serious physical or psychological side effects or even death. If you’re addicted to alcohol and Adderall, the caring professionals at Briarwood Detox Center are available to help. Please call (512) 262-4426 or contact us online to learn more about our Adderall detox and alcohol detox programs.

References:

  1. https://www.drugs.com/adderall.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1524735/ 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3644523/ 
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321542#why-is-it-dangerous 
  5. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments#1 
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-effects-on-body 

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