Alcohol is a CNS depressant and Adderall is a stimulant, making Adderall and alcohol a bad mix.
The stimulant effects induced by Adderall can counteract alcohol’s sedating effects, sometimes prompting people to drink more alcohol with potentially dangerous outcomes.
Both Adderall and alcohol can be damaging when abused in isolation. If you use the substances in combination, the risks are compounded. Today’s guide outlines what to expect if you unwittingly end up taking Adderall and alcohol together.
Adderall and Alcohol Drug Interaction
Adderall is classified under Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. All substances in this schedule have a high potential for physical and psychological dependence.
A stimulant medication, Adderall is typically prescribed to manage the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder), both in children and adults. With rates of ADHD increasing by 30% over the past decade, the number of Adderall prescriptions is also on the rise.
The most recent data from SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) shows that rates of alcoholism doubled from 2019 to 2020, with 28 million over-18s suffering from alcohol use disorder.
Both Adderall and alcohol abuse are pressing concerns when used in isolation, but the interaction can trigger more problems. Although alcohol is a depressant and Adderall is a stimulant, this does not mean the substances cancel each other out. Rather, both substances compete with each other in your system, causing potentially serious problems.
Adderall can diminish some of the symptoms of being intoxicated. Many people using these two substances at the same time find themselves drinking more than intended as the effects are masked by Adderall. This can lead to negative outcomes like engaging in risky behaviors or alcohol poisoning. In the worst scenario, an alcohol overdose can be fatal.
Like all stimulant medications, Adderall poses some risk of cardiovascular issues developing. This risk to heart health increases in line with the dose. Taking more Adderall than prescribed is inadvisable and exacerbated if you take the medication with alcohol.
Drinking alcohol can lower your inhibitions and prompt aggressive behavior. Adding a stimulant like Adderall to the equation can magnify both effects.
Using Adderall and alcohol together can:
- Raise blood pressure
- Increase body temperature
- Raise heart rate
- Cause irregular heart rate
- Trigger behavioral issues
Can You Mix Adderall and Alcohol
It is always inadvisable to take Adderall and consume alcohol simultaneously. This applies both to those prescribed the stimulant and to those misusing Adderall for recreational purposes. Examples of Adderall misuse include:
- Using someone else’s medication
- Taking Adderall in a form other than as prescribed – snorting, smoking, or injecting
- Using a prescription for purely recreational purposes
- Taking more of the medication than prescribed or in higher doses
Mixing Adderall and alcohol is not recommended due to the different ways in which they impact the CNS (central nervous system).
The amphetamine content of Adderall means the effect of certain neurotransmitters in the brain is enhanced, potentially improving alertness and focus.
Alcohol, by contrast, is a CNS depressant that diminishes the effects of neurotransmitters, slowing mental and bodily functions. The sedative effects of alcohol are masked, though, if you are taking Adderall.
Despite these depressant qualities, alcohol can serve as a stimulant in small doses. If you are taking Adderall when drinking alcohol, this fleeting stimulant action of alcohol can be elongated. This sometimes leads to people mixing these two substances to drink more than planned.
Effects of Alcohol and Adderall
Almost all prescription medications warn against using the medication together with alcohol. Additionally, most physicians urge against using prescription medications in conjunction with CND depressants like alcohol.
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has issued many warnings about the dangers of mixing drugs and medications.
According to Concepts of Chemical Dependency, mixing Adderall and alcohol can lead to the following scenarios:
- IDRs (idiosyncratic drug reactions) occur rarely due to the psychological and physiological makeup of the individual rather than due to the pharmacological properties of the substance. The potential for IDRs is significantly increased when you consume alcohol.
- Mixing alcohol with most medications will diminish the effects of the medication. Mixing alcohol with a stimulant like Adderall causes the perception of the effects of both substances to diminish.
- Combining any substances with different effects increases the incidence of unpredictable effects. These effects include potentially deadly seizures.
- The sustained use of large quantities of alcohol and Adderall can lead to complicated situations like co-occurring disorders (alcohol use disorder and mental health disorder) or polysubstance abuse. These outcomes require more complex interventions and dual diagnosis treatment.
- Although taking Adderall and alcohol together causes you to feel that neither the stimulant nor the depressant is working effectively, the chemical action of the substances remains unaltered. Resultantly, it is much easier to overdose on either alcohol or stimulants when you are using the substances in combination.
Combining alcohol and Adderall can also cause the following serious problems:
- Psychotic episodes
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncontrollable vomiting
- Heart arrhythmias
What to Do if You Mix Adderall and Alcohol
If you or someone you know has taken these two substances together, contact the emergency services in the event of any of the above symptoms.
Both alcohol overdose and Adderall overdose can be fatal. The risks are magnified when the substances are both in the system.
Adderall and Alcohol Causing Addiction
Like all products containing amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, Adderall is a Schedule II drug. Using Adderall long-term can cause tolerance to build. If this occurs, you will need more of the medication to achieve the same effects, or you will need to take more frequent doses.
While tolerance and physical dependence does not necessarily lead to addiction, this frequently occurs in the form of stimulant use disorder. When stimulant use disorder develops, just like any substance use disorder, withdrawal symptoms will present in the absence of the medication.
With the non-medical use of ADHD medications on the rise, especially among college students, and over half of those abusing ADHD medications also consuming alcohol, it is crucial to raise awareness of the dangers of mixing stimulants and depressants.
Both Adderall and alcohol are addictive. The negative outcomes caused by combining these substances can accelerate the path to addiction in the form of an alcohol use disorder, stimulant use disorder, or co-occurring disorder.
Drinking alcohol long-term leads to both physical and psychological dependence, with addiction the likely but not inevitable result. Once you become physically dependent on alcohol, you will experience cravings for alcohol as the effects wear off. Cravings for alcohol are also one of DSM’s eleven diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder and are also characteristic of the alcohol withdrawal process.
Taking Adderall, even under the prescription and advice of a doctor, can also lead to physical dependence, a state liable to trigger cravings in the absence of Adderall. Beyond this, the use of any addictive substance like Adderall causes changes to areas of the brain governing reward-seeking and motivation. Without sufficient Adderall in your system, this can cause cravings for the substance.
Adderall and alcohol cravings can occur even more rapidly due to the effects outlined above triggered by combining the substances.
Treatment for Adderall and Alcohol at The District
Whether you have been abusing Adderall, alcohol, or both, we can help you embrace sober living here at TDRC. We also offer programs to treat mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
We deliver gender-specific outpatient programs. This allows you complete flexibility while pursuing your recovery and an environment free of distractions or triggers.
If you need more support than a regular outpatient program provides, an IOP (intensive outpatient program) or PHP (partial hospitalization program) gives you the next best thing to residential rehab at a more affordable price point.
To help you combat addiction to alcohol or Adderall, your treatment team will draw from evidence-based treatments and holistic therapies.
MAT (medication-assisted treatment) can be beneficial for many people recovering from alcohol use disorder. MAT is most effective when delivered alongside counseling and psychotherapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).
When you complete your program here at The District, your treatment team will equip you with robust aftercare and relapse prevention plans. If required, you can step down to a less intensive level of care or a sober living community before transitioning back into daily living.
To reclaim a life free of Adderall and alcohol, take the first step by calling TDRC at 844.287.8506.