Mixing alcohol with Adderall or another stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has become a common practice among high school and college students. Combining these substances is dangerous because it increases a person’s risk of developing addiction and adverse health effects. Drinking may exacerbate Adderall side effects such as euphoria, convulsions and irregular heartbeat. In rare cases, using both drugs can lead to death.
Adderall and alcohol are two of the most commonly used drugs among college and high school students. The substances are generally cheap and easily accessible. Alcohol is widely available at bars and stores, and Adderall is one of the most prescribed medications among young people.
Those without an Adderall prescription can easily access the drug. People who have a legitimate prescription may sell the medication to others or give it away. Students often use Adderall to pull all-nighters while cramming for tests. They also use it to party for longer periods of time.
Adderall is a stimulant drug that increases heart rate and blood pressure, and alcohol is a depressant that can slow heart rate and breathing. But when taken together, they do not negate the effects of each other. Adderall lessens the depressive effects of alcohol. Alcohol can increase the euphoria caused by recreational Adderall use.
People often mix alcohol with ADHD medications so they can drink more over longer periods of time. The stimulant effects of Adderall keep people alert and prevents them from passing out as they consume more alcohol. But as a result, they often fail to notice obvious signs that they have drunk too much.
The combined effects of Adderall and alcohol can cause individuals to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol in one sitting. Mixing the drugs can also cause health risks such as alcohol poisoning, cardiovascular problems, hallucinations and seizures. In rare cases, it can result in death.
According to researchers with St. Joseph’s Medical Center, concurrent alcohol and Adderall use has been linked to heart attack, arrhythmia and hypertension — even among individuals who had no prior risk factors for cardiovascular issues.
Combining Adderall and alcohol is also linked to symptoms such as:
These symptoms can lead to more serious health problems and permanent damage to the body. In some cases, mixing the substances can cause a heart attack or a fatal alcohol overdose.
The main reasons people choose to mix Adderall and alcohol are to party longer and to consume more alcohol. Adderall counteracts the depressive effects of alcohol. When people consume high amounts of alcohol, they become tired. Eventually, they pass out when they’ve had too much to drink.
Adderall allows people to bypass alcohol’s depressive effects and to continue drinking to greater levels of intoxication. The stimulant effects of Adderall also allow people to stay awake for longer periods of time.
The ability to drink for longer periods can easily cause people to ingest dangerous levels of alcohol, which could be lethal. Adderall makes it harder to notice the signs of dangerous alcohol consumption, which increases a person’s risk of alcohol poisoning.
In addition to the detrimental health effects of combining alcohol and Adderall, this pattern of misuse also can lower inhibitions. As a result, individuals are more likely to engage in dangerous decision-making that may cause serious harm to themselves and others.
Lowered inhibitions are a common side effect of alcohol consumption. But as Adderall use drives higher levels of intoxication from drinking, inhibitions may be lowered to a much greater extent.
In combination, Adderall and alcohol use compounds the risks of dangerous behaviors that people would normally avoid when they are sober.
The behavioral risks of mixing alcohol with Adderall or other ADHD medications include:
While alcohol and Adderall use is not the only factor that contributes to these dangerous behaviors, combining the two substances may change an individual’s mindset. The resulting loss of control can prevent people from hesitating before engaging in dangerous behaviors with potentially life-changing repercussions.
Adderall and alcohol are both addictive, and mixing the two substances may further increase a person’s risk for developing a substance use disorder.
Taking Adderall before or during drinking to party longer promotes binge drinking, which the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines as a pattern of drinking that elevates a person’s blood alcohol content to 0.08 grams per deciliter. Women typically reach this level of intoxication when they drink four standard beverages in two hours, and men may reach it after drinking five beverages in the same period.
Combining alcohol and Adderall allows individuals to easily surpass their normal rate of alcohol consumption.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, men who drink more than 14 alcoholic beverages per week and women who drink more than seven per week are considered at-risk drinkers. The institute reports that about 25 percent of at-risk drinkers have an alcohol addiction disorder, and the remaining 75 percent face a greater risk of developing alcoholism and related problems.
It is not uncommon for individuals who combine Adderall and alcohol to exceed weekly at-risk drinking limits in one drinking session. Repeating this behavior increases the likelihood of developing a physical dependence to both Adderall and alcohol.