Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is FDA-approved to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. This prescription drug is classified as a Schedule II medication under the Controlled Substances Act due to its potential for misuse and abuse.
While Adderall can be an effective treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy, it can create serious side effects when misused or taken with substances like alcohol.
Can You Take Adderall With Alcohol?
You should avoid mixing Adderall and alcohol if you can. This combination can be very dangerous and result in many serious effects. While the manufacturer of Adderall does not specifically mention a warning about taking this medication with alcohol, CNS stimulants like Adderall can mask the effect of depressants like alcohol. This means if you take Adderall with alcohol, you may not feel the effect of alcohol as you normally would and could be at higher risk for alcohol poisoning.
Additionally, there may be a concern for heart-related risks when alcohol and Adderall are taken together. One study found that combining alcohol and stimulants like Adderall increased blood pressure and stress on the heart. Adderall and alcohol can each increase the risk of cardiac events on their own, and this study demonstrated that taking both together could be even riskier. The manufacturer of Adderall also warns about the risk of cardiac events.
The Dangers of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol
Adderall is a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant, but rather than canceling each other out, they work in opposition. Some potential side effects of using alcohol while on Adderall can include:
Increased Risk of Alcohol Poisoning
Because stimulants like Adderall keep you awake and alert, they can mask symptoms of alcohol intoxication like drowsiness. This means that the common sleepiness that sets in when you get drunk may not occur, and you may not realize you are drunk and continue drinking. This increases your risk of alcohol poisoning.
Even when taken on its own, Adderall carries a boxed warning for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. Mixing stimulants like Adderall with alcohol can increase the risks of cardiovascular events due to elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
Impaired Judgment and Decision-Making
Alcohol can impair your judgment and decision-making abilities. However, combining alcohol with Adderall can worsen self-control, distraction and mood and behavioral changes.
Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues and substance abuse are closely linked, and taking multiple substances at the same time can worsen symptoms. This includes stimulants like Adderall mixed with alcohol, which can lead to mood swings, aggression and restlessness.
How Long After Taking Adderall Can I Drink Alcohol?
While it is best to avoid alcohol entirely while taking Adderall, that may not always be possible. Generally, it’s best to wait at least four to six hours after taking immediate-release Adderall or eight hours after taking extended-release formulations before drinking alcohol. Always discuss any possible drug interaction with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to get the most specific information for your situation.
*The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your medications.
Can You Overdose on Adderall and Alcohol?
Mixing Adderall and alcohol increases the risk of alcohol poisoning and cardiac complications dramatically. The CNS stimulant effect of Adderall can mask the influence of alcohol when both substances are taken together, which increases the likelihood that an individual could continue to drink until their blood-alcohol concentration reaches dangerously high levels. Combining Adderall and alcohol also causes the heart to work faster, which can lead to cardiac issues like heart palpitations and even heart attacks.
If an overdose occurs, seeking help immediately by calling 911 or contacting Poison Control is important. Always seek medical attention if you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning. Do not wait for symptoms to emerge. Alcohol poisoning can lead to death in certain cases, so quickly moving is important.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning may include:
- Unconsciousness or inability to wake up
- Slow breathing
- Irregular breathing
- Slower heart rate
- Clammy skin
- Dulled responses, like no gag reflex to prevent choking
- Low body temperature
- Bluish skin color or paleness
Why Do People Mix Adderall and Alcohol?
People may mix Adderall and alcohol for different reasons. One study determined that the abuse rate is highest among those aged 18–25 who get this medication from friends and family without a prescription. This may coincide with starting college, and alcohol might be used to minimize the jitteriness that Adderall can cause. Some individuals also use Adderall and alcohol together to “party longer.” There is also a common misconception that Adderall is safer than other drugs because it is a prescription. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Alcohol and ADHD
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and ADHD are thought to share common genetic associations, meaning someone with ADHD may be more likely to experience AUD. Further, alcohol use and ADHD during adolescence can each increase the severity of each other. This seems to be attributed to impulse control and a maladaptive reward system in those diagnosed with ADHD, which makes this population more susceptible to AUD.
How To Recognize Adderall and Alcohol Abuse
When a person starts to abuse Adderall and alcohol, signs often emerge. Friends, family and loved ones may start to notice these symptoms, which can act as red flags that a person may need help to overcome their reliance on Adderall and alcohol.
Adderall and Alcohol Warning Signs
Many warning signs can point to a problem with alcohol and Adderall. These can include:
- Deliberately taking Adderall and alcohol together or within a short period
- Taking Adderall, specifically while drinking
- Exaggerating valid medical symptoms to try to get Adderall for recreational use with alcohol
- Knowing that taking Adderall and alcohol together poses a risk but doing it anyway
- Displaying side effects of using Adderall and alcohol together, like high blood pressure and mood swings
When To Seek Help
It is important to seek help as soon as possible when a person starts to struggle with Adderall and alcohol, even if the problem does not yet seem out of control. The ever-present dangers of addiction, including overdose, can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Treatment options are available to help the person overcome not only Adderall and alcohol but also any underlying mental health issues they may have that caused them to rely on those substances in the first place.
Treatment for Adderall and Alcohol Abuse
When someone struggles with multiple substances like Adderall and alcohol, they are often treated for both at the same time. Abusing multiple substances at once is called polysubstance abuse, which can be more complex to treat than a single addiction. However, recovery is possible with the right treatment and support.
Detox and Rehab for Adderall and Alcohol
The first step in overcoming an Adderall and alcohol addiction is detox, in which you are weaned off both substances, cleansing your system. Detox often occurs in a medically supervised inpatient environment, with doctors and nurses available to treat any withdrawal symptoms. The Recovery Village Columbus offers 30 detox beds and a full continuum of progressive care as you recover to support you all the way into your recovery.
Counseling and Therapy
Adderall and alcohol rehab follows detox and involves counseling and therapy to help you explore why you began to rely on Adderall and alcohol and learn new coping mechanisms to help you live a substance-free life. Our counselors are experts in polysubstance abuse, helping you recover from both substances at once. We focus on healing your mind and body and offer amenities, including exercise rooms, a pickleball and volleyball court, an art studio and a fire pit.
Support Groups and Recovery Programs
Even after rehab is complete, it is important to maintain your focus on recovery over the long term. To this end, The Recovery Village Columbus encourages participation in aftercare programs like alumni groups and Alcoholics Anonymous to help you maintain your recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol, Adderall or both, The Recovery Village Columbus can help. We offer many treatment options, from medical detox and inpatient treatment to teletherapy and long-term aftercare. Contact us today, and we’ll help you start your journey to a healthier life.
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