Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because this substance is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, it manages symptoms of ADHD by increasing focus and concentration. If you are using Adderall to treat your ADHD, it is important to be aware of the interactions this medication has with alcohol.
Conversely, Adderall tends to provide the opposite effects when a person without ADHD abuses it. Instead of decreasing symptoms of inattention and impulsivity, Adderall causes people to experience extreme levels of energy, euphoria, and jitteriness. In fact, when Adderall is abused by people without ADHD it produces effects similar to cocaine or methamphetamine.
Either way, if you are taking Adderall you should never mix it with alcohol. The combination of these substances can lead to adverse and even deadly effects.
What are the Dangers of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol?
Adderall is a CNS stimulant but alcohol is a CNS depressant. When you mix two substances with opposite effects, you can experience an array of dangerous and potentially life-threatening consequences.
Common dangers of combining alcohol with Adderall include:
If you are on Adderall while you are drinking alcohol, the stimulant effects of the medication can make it difficult to tell how drunk you are. In other words, Adderall can reduce the effects of alcohol intoxication and make it appear like the alcohol you are drinking isn’t affecting you even when it is. As a result, you may begin to drink more alcohol than your body can handle, leading to alcohol poisoning.
The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Mental confusion
- Difficulty remaining conscious, or inability to wake up
- Slow breathing
- Irregular breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Clammy skin
- Dulled responses, such as no gag reflex
- Extremely low body temperature, bluish skin color, or paleness
Similarly, when you are drinking and taking Adderall at the same time the alcohol can cloud your ability to determine how much the Adderall is affecting you. As a result, you may begin to consume more Adderall to experience your desired effect. This can cause you to experience an Adderall overdose, which can be fatal.
The symptoms of an Adderall overdose include:
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Abnormally rapid breathing
- Dilation of the pupil
Like other stimulants, Adderall increases the activity of several different mechanisms in your body. Oftentimes, the stimulant effects of this medication increase your risk of experiencing heart complications. The risk of these complications increases significantly when you take too much Adderall or mix it with alcohol.
Common heart complications associated with mixing Adderall and alcohol include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Heart attack
Does Alcohol Have an Effect on Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
If you are taking Adderall to treat your ADHD, you should avoid drinking alcohol because the effects of alcohol can worsen the symptoms of your ADHD over time.
The common symptoms of ADHD include:
- Issues concentrating and staying on task
- Impulsive behavior
- Being easily distracted
These symptoms occur because of the way that ADHD causes low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine–two neurotransmitters that are responsible for making you feel good. For example, your brain releases dopamine and norepinephrine when you are in love, get a promotion at work, or experience anything else that makes you feel happy.
When you have ADHD, you may begin to seek forms of self-medication to increase these feel-good chemicals. While alcohol does cause a release of dopamine in your brain, it is short-lived. In the long term, alcohol abuse can deplete your dopamine levels even further, leading to increased symptoms of ADHD and possibly feelings of depression.
If you are suffering from ADHD you should avoid drinking alcohol. While occasional drinks should not cause a significant issue, drinking in excess can worsen your condition and cause interactions with your medication if you are taking a stimulant like Adderall.
Finding Help for Adderall and Alcohol Abuse
If you or a loved one is prescribed Adderall and suffers from alcoholism, or abuses both of these substances, receiving professional addiction treatment is of the utmost importance. Combining alcohol and Adderall can lead to an array of dangerous effects, including overdoses, alcohol poisoning, and heart complications. Additionally, long-term alcohol abuse can significantly increase the symptoms of ADHD.
By attending a professional drug and alcohol rehab program, you will receive the support, tools, and treatment you need to regain control over your life. With a combination of medical detox, evidence-based behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention planning, drug rehab can help you maintain long-term recovery.
To find help for polydrug abuse, contact Moving Mountains Recovery Center today.
- Medline Plus: Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine, Retrieved March 2023 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose, Retrieved March 2023 from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-dangers-of-alcohol-overdose
- National Library of Medicine: Adderall® (amphetamine-dextroamphetamine) toxicity, Retrieved March 2023 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23796480/
- National Health Service UK: Symptoms Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Retrieved March 2023 from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/symptoms/
- National Library of Medicine: Role of ADHD in the Co-occurrence between Heavy Alcohol Use and Depression Trajectories in Adulthood, Retrieved March 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6370516/