Adderall is a medication commonly prescribed to treat the symptom of ADD/ADHD (attention-deficit disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, respectively). Adderall consists of stimulants useful for legitimate medical purposes at proper doses but can potentially be abused. For this reason, the DEA currently classifies it as a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S. It is sometimes referred to as an “amphetamine salt combo” drug as it contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
Stimulant drugs such as Adderall work by boosting adrenaline and dopamine, neurochemicals in brain regions that can improve alertness and a person’s ability to focus in those who have ADD or ADHD.
Conversely, alcohol works to enhance the function of the inhibitory neurochemicals glycine and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid. Alcohol is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant that can produce euphoria, dizziness, fatigue, lowered inhibitions, and various other symptoms when used in excess.
Many health specialists consider using these two substances to be among the riskiest combinations of intoxicants, and unfortunately, it is also one of the most prevalent. Some individuals who ingest this cocktail of alcohol and stimulants do so naively without knowing the potential adverse consequences, while others do so to experience feelings of euphoria.
People who ingest these two together to get high may erroneously believe that the effects of alcohol and Adderall can neutralize the unwanted effects of each other because they are different classes of substances with competing properties. And although a stimulant can initially mask some symptoms of inebriation related to alcohol, it does not entirely prevent the body from being impacted by alcohol or succumbing to its intoxicating and potentially dangerous effects.
Dangers of Combining Adderall and Alcohol
When an individual mixes Alcohol and Adderall, they may experience:
- Increased body temperature
- Elevated or irregular heart rate
- Blood pressure changes
- Psychosis, including paranoia
- Impaired coordination
- Poor decision-making
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle twitching
As noted, stimulants, such as Adderall, can mask the effects of depressants, such as alcohol. This means that ingesting these two in conjunction can prevent an individual from tracking how much alcohol they have consumed because the stimulant partially camouflages the slowed-down effects of being intoxicated.
Moreover, because the person cannot feel exactly how drunk they are, using both substances at once can rapidly result in an overdose or alcohol poisoning.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:
- Profound confusion
- Blackouts and brownouts
- Nausea and vomiting
- Depressed or labored breathing
- Bluish, cold, or clammy skin
- Changes in body temperature
- Being unable to be awakened
Adderall can accelerate the rate at which the body processes alcohol, increasing how rapidly an individual becomes inebriated. This can also result in alcohol poisoning.
Severe and potentially hazardous side effects of mixing alcohol and Adderall include the following:
- Cardiovascular issues, such as cardiac arrest and stroke
- Amnesia and memory impairments due to being heavily intoxicated
- Head trauma, broken bones, or bruises from falls caused by severely impaired coordination
- Psychosis, and hallucinations, and paranoia leading to aggression and erratic behavior
Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
When an individual has progressed to a state of alcohol dependence, they will experience withdrawal symptoms shortly following discontinuation of use. Withdrawal is often very uncomfortable and sometimes painful both physically and emotionally. Therefore, many heavy drinkers will return to their past behavior despite the incurrence of adverse consequences to delay the onset of withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal transpires because continuous, excessive alcohol use will eventually alter brain functioning and disrupt neurochemicals that transmit messages throughout the CNS (central nervous system). The primary neurochemical associated with feelings such as relaxation and sedation is GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA also helps boost levels of endorphins in the brain, which serve to produce feelings of reward and well-being.
Excessive alcohol use is associated with an imbalance of GABA and commonly leads to several adverse mental and physical withdrawal symptoms, such as the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Accelerated heart rate
- Anxiety and depression
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Shakiness and tremors
Delirium tremens, a severe and potentially life-threatening form of alcohol withdrawal, can cause symptoms, such as the following:
- Altered mental functioning
- Deep sleep
- Fear and paranoia
- Disorientation and confusion
- Sudden mood swings
Other severe symptoms of acute withdrawal include the following:
- Irregular heart rate
- Kidney/liver dysfunction
- Seizure-related head injury
- Severe dehydration
In addition to alcohol’s dehydrating effects, detox itself can be dangerously dehydrating to the body. Moreover, the body uses any means necessary, such as vomiting and diarrhea, to expel alcohol and its toxic byproducts. Combining an alcohol user’s pre-existing dehydrated condition with withdrawal-related dehydration can produce life-threatening seizures.
Due to abrupt alcohol withdrawal having the potential to cause coma and death, persons seeking to detox should do so under medical supervision in an addiction treatment center or hospital rather than attempt it alone.
Adderall withdrawal symptoms are pretty much the opposite of the medication’s desired effects. While Adderall can improve concentration and cause euphoria and feelings of energy, the crash that follows after a person ceases using the drug prompts a reversal of these effects.
Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Increased appetite
- Impaired concentration
- Body aches
- Suicidal ideations
Duration of Withdrawal
The duration of withdrawal from Adderall can vary from person-to-person. Some individuals experience symptoms subsiding in as little as five days, whereas it may take weeks for others, especially on an emotional level.
Significant factors that can impact the length of withdrawal are the average dose ingested as well as the frequency of use/abuse and duration of time this has continued. Moreover, persons who used excessive amounts more frequently and for a prolonged period can expect withdrawal symptoms to persist for longer than some others with milder abuse issues.
Who Is More Likely to Combine Alcohol and Adderall?
Teenagers and young adults, especially college students, may be more prone to mixing Adderall and alcohol than others. Many students misuse Adderall illicitly to stay awake and alert when cramming for an exam or finishing a paper.
According to studies, Adderall does not increase concentration capabilities or the ability to learn in those who do not have an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. However, it is still commonly assumed by many that taking stimulants, such as Adderall, will help them enhance their academic performance, at least in the short-term.
Young people are also more likely to drink excessive amounts of alcohol at bars, clubs, parties, etc., even if they are underage. If a student has taken Adderall as a study aid then attends a social gathering and drinks, they could severely injure themselves, overdose, and die.
Certain persons do this to enhance the high from Adderall or mitigate its adverse effects with other substances such as paranoia or aggression.
Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
If you have been abusing Adderall, alcohol, or other substances, you are urged to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Just Believe Recovery center offers a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment that includes therapeutic services, such as behavioral therapy, substance abuse education, individual and family counseling, peer group support, relapse prevention, and more.
We employ caring, highly-skilled addiction professionals who provide these services to those we treat with compassion and expertise. We equip individuals with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to maintain long-term sobriety and well-being.