The Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Adderall

Xanax and Adderall are two of the most widely prescribed (and popularly misused) psychiatric medications in America. These two medications help manage certain conditions that millions of people struggle with, but they also carry the risks of abuse and addiction.

In addition, intentionally mixing these medications can be a dangerous practice—one that can pose risks to a person’s health and overall well-being.

Read on to learn more about the risks of combining Xanax and Adderall and how to get help if you or someone you love has developed an addiction to Xanax, Adderall, or both.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine medication. Benzodiazepines (or “benzos”) are central nervous system (CNS) depressants used therapeutically for their sedative-hypnotic and anxiolytic properties.14

Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed (and widely diverted) benzodiazepines on the market. The drug is approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.15,16 

Xanax is also available under the generic name alprazolam.

How Xanax Works

Benzodiazepines like Xanax work by boosting the activity of a particular neurotransmitter in the brain. The neurotransmitter in question is gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, for short.

Benzos like Xanax help to manage anxiety by inhibiting (or calming) abnormal levels of excitation throughout the nervous system.

Xanax Abuse

Xanax is considered relatively safe when used as prescribed; however, misuse of the drug can be incredibly risky and result in serious health consequences. Xanax abuse occurs in a number of ways. People may:4

  • Take another person’s medication.
  • Take more Xanax than prescribed or in ways other than directed.
  • Use Xanax to get high.

When someone begins abusing Xanax, they will often feel sleepy and clumsy. For example, they may stumble or fall when trying to walk.2

Taken in high doses, Xanax can cause effects that include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Impaired reflexes.

As a central nervous system depressant, abuse of Xanax may cause respiratory depression and severe sedation, especially when mixed with alcohol, opioids, and other CNS depressants (e.g., barbiturates, prescription sleep aids, other benzos).4

The combination of these substances can slow a person’s heart rate and breathing patterns to dangerous levels, resulting in overdose, respiratory arrest, coma, and death.4

Abuse may also lead to physical dependence (the body’s reliance on the substance to feel normal), which, once established, could result in the onset of potentially severe withdrawal symptoms when use is suddenly stopped or reduced.3

Xanax alone has numerous risks and side effects, especially when misused. People may compound these risks when they combine their use of Xanax with other substances, such as Adderall.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a brand name for a prescription stimulant medication that combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

Like Xanax, Adderall has legitimate medical uses. It is prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as the sleep disorder narcolepsy.7

When used as directed in people with ADHD, users may feel more focused and able to concentrate more than they normally would, while experiencing relief from hyperactivity and restlessness.

How Adderall Works

While benzodiazepines like Xanax work by calming activity in the central nervous system (CNS), Adderall is prescribed because it stimulates certain physiological processes, making people feel energetic, alert, and productive.

While Xanax targets GABA, Adderall primarily influences the activity of two neurotransmitters—dopamine and norepinephrine. An increase in dopamine activity accompanies a person doing something pleasurable or rewarding.

By doing so, it reinforces that action and often leads to a sense of anticipation to do that activity again.

Norepinephrine also plays a role in the stimulating effects on the body and leads to:8

  • A sense of increased energy.
  • Less need for sleep.
  • Lower appetite.

Adderall Abuse

Much like Xanax, Adderall is an effective medication when used as intended, but the drug also carries the risk of abuse. People may misuse Adderall by:8

  • Taking more of the drug than directed.
  • Taking the drug in ways other than intended, such a crushing the tablets and snorting them.
  • Taking someone else’s prescription.

Adderall has become a widely misused drug on college campuses and in the high-stakes corporate world, where students and executives have to perform mentally taxing activities with little sleep.2

Many people who become hooked on Adderall will continue to take the drug, convinced that the euphoric effects they remember from their first dose will help them feel better again. Instead, as they increase their doses to offset a growing tolerance, they expose themselves to even greater risks.

The risks of Adderall abuse can include:8

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate).
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm).
  • Hyperthermia (high body temperature).
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Poor nutritional status from chronic lack of appetite.
  • Anger, violence, and paranoia.
  • Stroke.

Medical issues associated with Adderall abuse—such as dangerously high body temperature, dehydration, cardiac abnormalities, and seizures—may all contribute to severely compromised health and, in some cases, death.8

Mixing Adderall and Xanax

The all-too-common practice of mixing “uppers” like Adderall with “downers” like Xanax can result in a number of serious risks to an individual’s health, including an increased risk of overdose.

This is because people may find themselves less able to pace their consumption, often overcompensating for whichever effect is stronger at the time. As one drug masks the effects of the other, higher levels of intoxication are likely.12

A person taking large amounts of Adderall and Xanax might not realize the drugs’ effects on their heart, breathing, or coordination, which increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries, because they don’t realize just how intoxicated they have become.2,12

The idea of combining uppers (stimulants) and downers (sedatives) in the form of medications mirrors the practice of “speedballing,” taking heroin and cocaine at once. Adderall and Xanax may not be illegal drugs, but the dangers of mixing them are similar.

Withdrawal may be severe as well. Detoxification from Xanax is sufficiently serious on its own (with the potential for seizures and other complications), but when you add one or more substances, withdrawal may be even more complex and distressing.13

Despite the risks, people may take Xanax and Adderall at the same time in an attempt to enhance or modify the effects of either drug alone. Some people falsely believe that Xanax and Adderall together will level or “cancel out” the effects of each individual medication. Others may simply take both to see if it will give them a more intense high.

Whatever the motivation, mixing Adderall and Xanax is dangerous. If you or someone you know is engaging in polysubstance use like this, you or they may need professional addiction treatment and support.

Adderall and Xanax Addiction Treatment

At Greenhouse Treatment Center, we provide different types of addiction treatment, with personalized treatment plans designed to meet the individual needs of each patient.

The admissions navigators at our Texas drug rehab center are available around the clock to answer your questions about paying for rehab, using insurance to pay for rehab, and the treatment admissions process.

Don’t let your addiction reach rock bottom. If you’re struggling with the devastating side effects of addiction and unsure where to turn, call us today at .

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