When taking any medication, it is vital to know any potential side effects or negative reactions with foods, other medications, or substances. Some medications explicitly indicate it is not appropriate to drink alcohol while taking the medication because of potential negative side effects. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to follow the prescribed directions, and some will try their luck at mixing the medication with alcohol. According to a published study from 2008 by researchers at Brown University and the University of Rhode Island, 60 percent of people taking a prescribed medication that can interact with alcohol will knowingly mix the medication with alcohol when they shouldn’t, and 5 percent will have at minimum three alcoholic beverages in a row despite any potential consequences.
Adderall is a medication commonly taken with alcohol by some users. Reasons behind why they mix these two substances may be different in each case, but the combination has a high probability of producing negative or even life-threatening results. To understand how these two substances work against each other, the specific properties of both Adderall and alcohol need to be explained.
What Happens When You Drink?
Alcohol acts as a depressant that works on the central nervous system. When alcohol is ingested, it interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, impacting a person’s actions. Alcohol has the ability to affect a person’s movement, coordination, behavior, and mood, and it makes it more difficult to think clearly. If a person drinks heavily regularly, it can cause serious health problems, including high blood pressure, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscle), and stroke.
Alcohol can also negatively affect the liver by causing problems, such as alcoholic hepatitis, steatosis or fibrosis. This substance can harm the pancreas and the immune system, weakening it and making the body more susceptible to different diseases. Alcohol can also increase the user’s risk of developing some cancers, such as throat, mouth, breast, esophagus, and liver cancer.
Due to these harmful properties, alcohol consumption is not recommended by medical professionals for those who are taking several different types of prescribed medications.
Adderall is a prescribed medication used to treat the symptoms of narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, which both are central nerve stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulsive actions. Adderall is designed to help users concentrate, and it can also provide a calming effect. In 2011, almost 14 million prescriptions were written for Americans ages 20-39.
Adderall is not safe to use if a person is also suffering from other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, overactive thyroid, or heart disease, or if a person has a history alcohol or drug addiction. Also, if a person has any history of agitation, severe anxiety, or tension, Adderall should be avoided, as it may contribute to worsening of symptoms a person is already experiencing.
The ingredients in Adderall can have a negative reaction with other medications, so it is important to only take Adderall as prescribed by a medical professional. If a user does not properly take Adderall, they may experience severe side effects. Adderall, like alcohol, may impair a person’s reactions and distort their way of thinking. It is important to not take Adderall if driving or engaging in any other activity that would require the user to be fully alert.
Users should also only take Adderall if they have one of the disorders it is designed to treat. Some users take Adderall for recreational purposes, or to help them concentrate. It is sometimes referred to as a “study drug,” as people take it in an effort to improve performance in school or at work.
When a person abuses Adderall, they may experience various physical and mental consequences. A user may have feelings of paranoia and hostility. It can cause their personality to drastically change, feelings of depression, or even thoughts of suicide. Hallucinations have also been reported in some cases of Adderall abuse. Adderall has caused other health-related problems, such as dangerously high body temperature, erectile dysfunction, seizures, irregular heartbeat, and cardiovascular failure.
When Alcohol and Adderall Are Taken Together
Alcohol and Adderall do not make a good combination. Adderall is a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant. Though it may seem as if the two would cancel out each other’s functions, this does not happen; instead, the substances can compound the negative effects of each other.
Adderall and alcohol are both highly addictive. Both lower inhibitions, and this can lead to injuries, accidents, and increased risk-taking behavior. Adderall can cause a user to feel less drunk than they actually are. Adderall also changes the way alcohol is broken down in the body, which can lead to higher blood alcohol levels. When a person uses alcohol and Adderall together, they may not be aware of just how much alcohol they have ingested. This can lead to a user consuming much more alcohol than their body can handle, and this can lead to risks related to drunkenness, unsafe behavior, and overdose.
Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that can result from mixing alcohol and Adderall. Alcohol poisoning is the consumption of too much alcohol in a short period of time. Some symptoms of alcohol poisoning include changes in body temperature, seizures, confusion, irregular heart rate, gag reflex problems, and slow breathing. It also has the potential to result in a comatose state or even death. If a person is experiencing alcohol poisoning, medical attention is needed immediately.
Some users who combine alcohol and Adderall experience other unusual behavioral issues. Because the mixture lowers the ability to filter thoughts and actions, many users are often more aggressive and irrational, and not as thoughtful or aware of consequences.
Adderall increases the risk of heart problems in users and poses an even greater threat if not used as prescribed. The risk is even higher when the drug is mixed with alcohol. Some other physical problems users may experience when combining Adderall and alcohol are increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and extremely high body temperature.
Denise Leung, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, recommends drinking no more than one serving of alcohol while taking Adderall. Even then, that use should be cleared with the prescribing doctor. Other facts should be considered, such as how long it has been since the last dosage of Adderall was taken and if the medication is short-acting (immediate release: lasting about four hours) or long-acting (extended release: designed to last all day). It is best to wait until the medication wears off completely before even drinking any type of alcohol.
How Common Is the Practice of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol?
People who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are at a higher risk of developing substance abuse problems. Approximately 20-50 percent of adults who are diagnosed with ADHD also abuse either drugs or alcohol.
Many individuals with ADHD have difficulties controlling their impulses, and these issues with impulse control can make it more difficult for people with ADHD to monitor alcohol consumption. In many cases, it’s advisable for people with ADHD to avoid drinking altogether.
Both Adderall and alcohol have negative effects individually, and these effects only intensify when the substances are mixed. Adderall should not be taken in any way other than as prescribed. The best practice is to avoid drinking if you are taking Adderall. If you take Adderall regularly, discuss drinking practices with your prescribing doctor. Recreationally, the two substances should never be combined.