Alcohol and Adderall
Many people intentionally combine alcohol and Adderall in order to party longer and drink larger amounts. This practice is extremely dangerous and can result in potentially-fatal consequences, including alcohol poisoning and even cardiac arrest.
Mixing Alcohol and Adderall
Alcohol and Adderall have very different effects and increase the risk of serious complications when combined. In recent years, mixing alcohol and Adderall has become an increasingly popular trend among young people. On college campuses across the country, students are taking advantage of the stimulant effects of Adderall and are taking the drug in order to prepare for long nights of drinking. The thought process behind this for many people is as follows: if Adderall increases energy and focus, and alcohol causes drowsiness and loss of coordination, then taking Adderall in advance will enable individuals to drink longer and more without feeling tired. However, the drugs are not meant to interact and mixing the two is actually extremely dangerous. Between the years of 2010 and 2015, emergency room visits related to the non-medical use of ADHD medications tripled from 5,212 to 15,585 visits. In young adults, the number almost quadrupled, and nearly half of these visits were due to mixing ADHD drugs with alcohol.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a central nervous stimulant that is commonly prescribed to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD), and narcolepsy. Adderall is made up of a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which work together to control hyperactivity and impulses. The medication increases neurotransmitter activities and dopamine in the brain to help speed up processing. When used correctly and as prescribed, it can help people focus and concentrate on performing daily tasks. However, when misused or combined with other substances like alcohol, the effects can be dangerous.
The main reason people abuse Adderall is because of the energizing effects that the drug produces. Adderall causes users to experience increased feelings of confidence, concentration, euphoria, and suppressed appetite. These effects make Adderall a go-to choice for individuals looking for a boost in either physical or mental performance. Taking Adderall without a prescription, or in a way not directed by a doctor, is considered abuse. This includes snorting the pills or taking large doses to get a stronger effect. Adderall is most commonly misused by stressed college-aged students who need to get a lot of studying done, are trying to lose weight, or are wanting to party longer and be more social.
Side Effects of Adderall
Because Adderall is a nervous system stimulant, the drug stimulates the brain and nerves, causing messages to move more quickly through the body and increases responsiveness. Some of the most common effects of the substance include:
- Improved mood
- Enhanced concentration
- Increased heart rate and breathing
- Heightened sense of capability
- Increased alertness
- Reduction of hyperactivity
- Decreased exhaustion
Adderall can also result in a variety of undesired or potentially harmful effects as well, which are amplified when the drug is not taken as prescribed. Some of the negative side effects of Adderall include:
- Circulatory issues
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Restlessness and agitation
- Increased heart rate
- Stomach pain
Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Adderall
Both Adderall and alcohol have individual sets of side effects that impact an individual’s behavior and mental state. Because of this, the two should never be used together. Whereas Adderall speeds up central nervous system functions, alcohol slows down the brain’s electrical activity. Adderall can mask the effects of alcohol intoxication, making it extremely easy for individuals to consume too much alcohol without realizing it. Studies have also shown that people who mix alcohol and Adderall seem to be at an increased risk of developing substance abuse problems and are more likely to experiment with other drugs. When combined, the two substances can cause other serious problems including:
- Uncontrollable vomiting
- Heart arrhythmias
- Loss of consciousness
- Psychotic episodes
On top of all this, Adderall abuse can stifle a person’s sense of being both intoxicated and hungover, which can cause someone to keep drinking past the point of what is normal. Before long, a vicious cycle of Adderall and alcohol abuse starts to form as he or she becomes dependent on both substances to function. Ultimately, this kind of behavior can sabotage a student’s initial intentions of using the drug to simply meet the demands of college life as they spiral into addiction.
At-Risk College Students
College students are one of the most at-risk populaces for both excessive alcohol use and Adderall abuse. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who are in college are more likely, compared to their non-college peers, to drink to excess. College social life is more likely to involve alcohol, which leads many students to associate the positive outcomes of making new friends and feeling less anxious with consuming alcohol. When the stress of balancing school and one’s social life becomes too much, many turn to Adderall as a way to be able to excel at both. Some students hear that Adderall can help them focus and perform academically, and think of it as a “study drug.” Others view it as a recreational drug and intentionally combine the substance with alcohol in order to party longer and drink more.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an overwhelming 90% of college students who use Adderall non-medically also reported binge drinking. In fact, research has shown that a third of college students that take prescription stimulants do so in order to “stay awake to party.” Many teens and young adults are under the false impression that because Adderall comes from a doctor, it’s safe and they can’t become addicted to it, but that’s not the case.
Treatment for Alcohol and Adderall Addiction
Regardless of the reason, it is never safe to combine alcohol and Adderall together. Both alcohol and Adderall are addictive drugs that impact mood, behavior, and cognitive function, producing a number of negative and potentially life-threatening side effects when abused. If you’re someone that has a history of excessive alcohol and Adderall use, you may be suffering from a co-occurring disorder and need professional help.
Clinical Reviewer — Last Reveiwed: July 10, 2019
Huizen, Jennifer. (2018). Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Adderall? Retrieved on 21st May 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321542.php
Morris, Susan York. (2016). Dangers of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol. Retrieved on 21st May 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-and-alcohol
National Institute in Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription Stimulants. Retrieved on 21st May 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants
RX List. (2019). Adderall. Retrieved on 21st May 2019 from https://www.rxlist.com/adderall-drug.htm
Whitbourne, Kathryn. (2019). Alcohol and ADHD Medication. Retrieved on 21st May 2019 from https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/alcohol-adhd-medications#1
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