Adderall and Xanax: Is It Safe to Use Them Together?

Medically reviewed by Alan Carter on June 8, 2016Written by University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group on June 8, 2016

Introduction

If you take Adderall, you likely know that it’s a stimulant medication often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can help you pay attention, stay alert, and concentrate. It can also help you avoid impulsive and hyperactive behaviors.

Xanax, on the other hand, is a drug called a benzodiazepine. It's used to treat generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Xanax can make you feel calmer, more relaxed, and even drowsy.

If you’re wondering if you can take these two drugs together, you’re right to do some research. These drugs can have dangerous effects when taken together.

Dangers of combining Adderall and Xanax

In general, you should not take Adderall and Xanax together. There are two main reasons.

Increased risk of addiction

Both Adderall (amphetamine-dextroamphetamine) and Xanax (alprazolam) are controlled substances. This means the government monitors their use. Your doctor would also closely monitor your use of either of these drugs. In general, using controlled substances can lead to misuse or dependence and addiction. Taking two controlled substances at the same time raises your risk of misuse or addiction from either drug.

Learn more: Recognizing the signs of addiction »

Decreased effectiveness of both drugs

The use of these medications together can make both drugs less effective. This means that each drug may not work well to treat the condition it’s prescribed for.

Because Adderall is a stimulant, it can make you feel more focused and awake. It can decrease the effects of Xanax. For example, if you have anxiety, Adderall can make you feel more anxious. And if you have panic disorder, it can increase the number of panic attacks you have. Adderall can also cause trouble sleeping.

On the other hand, Xanax works as a sedative. It reduces anxiety, stress, and excitement levels. It can also cause drowsiness. These effects can counteract the effects of Adderall. Xanax can make you sleepy and make it harder for you to concentrate.

Read next: Effects of Adderall on the body »

What to do

There are several reasons why you may be interested in taking Xanax while you’re taking Adderall. You may feel anxious or you may have trouble sleeping. You may also have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.

No matter the reason, the best thing for you to do is to talk with your doctor. Adderall interacts with many drugs. You should get your doctor’s approval before mixing it with any other drugs. These include prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Your doctor will help you find a treatment for your anxiety, sleeping trouble, or other reason for your interest in Xanax. If Adderall is causing you sleep problems, keep in mind that you shouldn’t take it later than 10 a.m. If taking it before 10 a.m. doesn’t resolve your sleep problems, talk with your doctor. They may change your Adderall dosage or make further changes to your treatment schedule.

Xanax is not approved to treat sleep problems. Although it can cause drowsiness, it’s not a good solution to sleep problems caused by Adderall.

Talk with your doctor

When you talk with your doctor, feel free to ask questions. You might want to ask the following:

  • Do any of the drugs I’m currently taking interact with Adderall or Xanax?
  • What other drugs might help address the problem or symptoms I’m having?
  • Are there lifestyle changes that could help relieve this problem?

By working with your doctor, you can make sure you’re using your Adderall or Xanax safely. Your doctor can also address any other health issues you’re having.

Q:

What should I do if Adderall is making me anxious?

A:

Talk with your doctor. They may have some solutions that don’t involve taking a medication to help you relax. For instance, they may suggest switching you from Adderall, a stimulant, to a nonstimulant ADHD drug, such as Strattera (atomoxetine). Nonstimulants typically don’t cause anxiety. As a result, you may no longer feel the need for a drug like Xanax.

Healthline Medical TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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