Adderall is a stimulant medication. It’s used to manage the symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children. As more people are diagnosed with ADHD, more people are being prescribed this medication.
Adderall is a Schedule 2 drug. That means it’s a controlled substance with high potential for abuse and addiction. Adderall comes with risks. Learn about Adderall abuse and the hazards of mixing the drug with alcohol.
Can I take Adderall with alcohol?
Adderall is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant. This does not mean that the two substances cancel each other out. Instead, they compete with each other in your body. This effect can cause serious problems.
Adderall can dull the symptoms of being drunk. So people who use Adderall and alcohol together are often not aware of how much alcohol they’ve consumed. This can lead to over-drinking and related consequences such as alcohol poisoning and risky behavior.
Adderall and other stimulant drugs carry some risk of heart problems. This risk is higher if you take a higher dosage than what’s prescribed to you. The risk is also greater when you take the drug with alcohol. When used together, Adderall and alcohol may:
- raise your body temperature
- increase your heart rate
- increase your blood pressure
- cause an irregular heart rate
Drinking too much can reduce your inhibitions. It can also lead to aggressive behavior. Adding Adderall to the mix can increase both these effects.
What to do
You should not drink alcohol during treatment with Adderall. Not only can combining the two cause dangerous effects on your body, but it may also make your ADHD worse.
Effects of alcohol on ADHD
People with ADHD may have a problem in the parts of the brain that link to self-control, attention, critical thinking, and impulsivity. Symptoms of ADHD include:
- trouble concentrating and staying on task
- easy distraction
ADHD is also linked with lower levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. These are known as the feel-good neurotransmitters. They are part of your body’s reward system. Both chemicals kick in when you experience something positive. This can include falling in love, getting a promotion, or winning a prize.
In an effort to manage symptoms better, people with ADHD may turn to alcohol or other substances. In the short term, alcohol can increase dopamine levels, which may appear to ease ADHD symptoms.
Over time, however, alcohol use actually depletes dopamine. This can make your ADHD worse. People with ADHD should not drink alcohol due to this effect.
Adderall as prescribed
Stimulant drugs like Adderall are the first-line treatment for people with ADHD. Adderall is one of the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications. It’s a blend of several different amphetamine salts.
This medication works by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. It improves concentration and reduces impulsivity and hyperactivity in people with ADHD.
Some people may wonder if using a stimulant leads to substance abuse even when you use it with a prescription. In reality, if you have ADHD, taking a stimulant medication may actually reduce your risk of drug and alcohol abuse. A study in Pediatrics looked at the effects of ADHD psychotropic medication, such as Adderall, on risks for substance use disorders. The study found that people treated with stimulants for ADHD had an 85 percent reduction in risk for substance use disorders. The study also found that untreated ADHD is a significant risk factor for substance use disorders.
Taking Adderall can be effective and safe for treating ADHD. However, you must use the drug as prescribed by your doctor.
Adderall and abuse
Though Adderall is safe when it’s used the right way, the medication can be abused. According to a study in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, non-medical use of ADHD drugs is on the rise. The study showed that more than 7 percent of adults ages 18 to 49 years abused ADHD medications. The same study found that over half of the people who abused ADHD drugs also drank alcohol while using the medications.
The largest group abusing these drugs is full-time college students. Students may use the drugs in an effort to perform better in school and reduce their need to sleep. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 90 percent of students who abuse Adderall also binge drink alcohol.
Talk with your doctor
Adderall has an important role in helping people with ADHD live better, more productive lives. But it’s a powerful medication, and it should only be taken as prescribed.
Adderall and alcohol make a dangerous combination. Mixing the two can lead to alcohol poisoning, heart problems, and behavioral issues. Alcohol can also make your ADHD worse. Many people who abuse Adderall also abuse alcohol. Even if you have a prescription for Adderall, you should not drink alcohol during treatment.