Mixing Alcohol & Adderall: Effects & Addiction

Drinking alcohol while misusing stimulant medications like Adderall can be extremely dangerous.1

This page will discuss the effects of drinking alcohol while taking Adderall.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription stimulant and amphetamine approved by the FDA to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).2,3

Adderall also has a high potential for misuse and is considered a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).4

High school and college students often misuse Adderall as a “study drug” in attempts to improve their academic performance; however, people of all ages sometimes misuse Adderall to:5,6

  • Get high.
  • Lose weight.
  • Try to improve memory recall.
  • Enhance the desired effects of other substances or mitigate undesired effects (e.g., drowsiness caused by drinking alcohol).

A 2018 study performed on university students found that nonmedical prescription stimulant use was associated with:7

  • Higher-risk sexual behavior.
  • Lower grade point average.
  • Increased likelihood of engaging in other types of drug use.

Adderall and Alcohol Effects

Health effects and risks of Adderall may include:2,3,6

  • Anxiety.
  • Hypertension.
  • Increased heart rate and breathing.
  • Perspiration.
  • Stomach aches.
  • Unhealthy weight loss.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Psychosis.
  • Overdose.

Common health effects and risks of alcohol may include:8

  • Reduced inhibition and risky sexual behaviors.
  • Violent actions.
  • Injuries (from falls or motor vehicle accidents).
  • High blood pressure.
  • A weakened immune system.
  • Memory problems.
  • Liver damage.
  • Many different types of cancer (e.g., breast, liver, colon, esophagus).
  • Heart disease.
  • Alcohol overdose (alcohol poisoning).

Risks of Mixing Alcohol & Adderall

Despite their differing effects on the body, mixing alcohol and stimulant drugs like Adderall can be quite dangerous. They don’t cancel each other out; instead, they can mask each drug’s effects.1

For instance, Adderall can hide some of the symptoms of alcohol intoxication.1 This could lead a person to believe they aren’t feeling the usual effects of alcohol, and they may inadvertently drink more because they don’t feel as intoxicated as they are.1 As a result, a person may be at an increased risk of alcohol poisoning or injury.

The inverse can also be true. Since alcohol is a depressant, a person may take more of a stimulant like Adderall because they don’t feel the effects, putting them at an increased risk of overdose.1

Chronic polysubstance use can also complicate the withdrawal process when someone attempts to enter recovery.9

Addiction to Alcohol & Adderall

Addiction—clinically referred to as substance use disorder (SUD)—is characterized as a pattern of problematic, compulsive substance use despite significant negative consequences in a person’s life.10

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria provide a framework for diagnosing SUDs on a spectrum from mild to severe, but it is essential to have a licensed clinician or medical professional conduct a comprehensive assessment to obtain an accurate diagnosis.10

that can indicate a substance use disorder is the development of dependence. Dependence is a physiological adaptation of the body to a substance like alcohol or Adderall, in which the person feels like they need this drug to feel and function normally.10

Adderall & Alcohol Withdrawal

Once a person has developed dependence on a given substance, withdrawal may occur if they suddenly discontinue use or abruptly and dramatically decrease the amount of the substance they have been using.10

Depending on the severity of one’s dependence and the substances involved withdrawal can range from unpleasant to life-threatening.9

Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal may include:11

  • Fatigue.
  • Uneasy or dissatisfied mood.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Slowed mental or physical activity.
  • Increased appetite.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:10

  • Sweating.
  • Increased pulse rate.
  • Hand tremors.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Hallucinations (visual, tactile, or auditory).
  • Anxiety.
  • Seizures.

Depending on the severity of one’s alcohol use disorder (AUD) and other factors (e.g., general health, history of substance use, polysubstance use), withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening without medical support.9

Treatment for Adderall & Alcohol Addiction in Texas

Addiction treatment should be individualized to meet each person’s specific needs, but there are some foundations of treatment for substance use disorders that are universal.12

Often, the first step in addiction treatment is detoxification.12 In a medically assisted detox, a person is monitored by medical staff and acute symptoms of withdrawal can be managed with medication.12

While a vital first step in treatment for many, detox alone is rarely sufficient to help someone achieve long-term sobriety. Following detox, patients often need continued treatment to adequately address their addiction and its contributing factors.12 Often this occurs within other levels of addiction treatment such as residential treatment or outpatient care.

Behavioral therapy is the primary approach in most effective addiction treatment programs. Various addiction therapies are utilized to improve a patient’s motivation and self-esteem, help people recognize negative thought patterns and behaviors, and learn healthy coping skills to manage stress and various triggers moving forward.12

Participation in peer support programs—during and after treatment—is also extremely valuable.12 Maintaining a positive and supportive sober network is crucial for long-term recovery.

Finally, effective treatment should address polysubstance use and any co-occurring disorders simultaneously.12 Research shows that this approach is more effective in treating either condition than treating them separately.13

Greenhouse Treatment Center offers many different types of rehab care that can help you or your loved one get sober and remain in recovery. Call to speak to a compassionate admissions navigator to start addiction treatment at our outpatient center or inpatient rehab in Grand Prairie, TX, or learn about using insurance to pay for rehab and other ways to pay for treatment. You can also verify your insurance benefits using the confidential .

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