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Mixing Alcohol and Adderall: Risks and Side Effects

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/28/2022

Alcohol is a dangerous substance when mixed with other drugs or medications. While having a few standard drinks is typically safe when taking most medications, having a few drinks with some drugs can lead to adverse health effects. Alcohol can also interact with some medications and make them less effective. Adderall is no exception and can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol.

While Adderall is a safe medication prescribed to individuals who struggle with ADD or ADHD, it becomes dangerous when mixed with alcohol and other drugs. Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and alcohol is a CNS depressant, so the substances have the opposite effect on the CNS. For this reason, negative reactions can occur when the substances are mixed. 

In fact, Adderall can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning because many people who mix alcohol and Adderall report that Adderall masks alcohol’s intoxicating effects. When that happens, it’s harder for people to know when they’ve had too many alcoholic beverages.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication that’s prescribed to people who have an attention deficit disorder (ADD). It’s a combination of amphetamine salts and has equal parts dextroamphetamine and racemic amphetamine. Adderall requires a prescription from a medical professional and has a moderate risk of being abused when not taken properly. 

The four active ingredients in Adderall are dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, amphetamine sulfate, and dextroamphetamine sulfate. There are also a few different brands that manufacture Adderall. Some examples include Mydayis, Adzenys ER, and Adderall. For the treatment of ADD and ADHD, Adderall is known for being effective at most doses.

There are also a few different types of Adderall. Immediate release Adderall needs to be taken a few times per day and lasts for about 4-6 hours. Extended-release lasts for between 10 and 12 hours, so it only needs to be taken once a day. Both types of Adderall make people feel alert, less fidgety, and more focused.

Adderall is also used to treat more than ADD and ADHD. Because of its stimulant properties, Adderall can also treat narcolepsy and other conditions that can cause a loss of consciousness. While Adderall is a safe medication, we recommend against combining it with other drugs or medications.

How does Adderall Work?

People with ADHD and ADD can have an imbalance of dopamine and norepinephrine, which can decrease a person’s ability to concentrate. Adderall works by stimulating the central nervous system, which helps people focus and concentrate. 

According to Gene Beresin, a psychiatrist, Adderall interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for dopamine and norepinephrine. Releasing dopamine and norepinephrine increases a person’s attention span and focus. Adderall also interacts with the neurotransmitter responsible for serotonin. 

Adderall is often prescribed for ADD and ADHD. In fact, it’s one of the most effective treatment modalities for ADD with a success rate of between 70 and 80%.

What are the Side effects of Mixing Alcohol and Adderall?

Several side effects can occur when mixing Adderall and alcohol. Depending on the dosage of Adderall and how much alcohol was consumed, some side effects can be fatal. The side effects can also depend on individual factors like heart rate, body composition, and blood pressure.

The side effects of mixing alcohol and Adderall are listed below.

  • Feeling less intoxicated from alcohol
  • Increased body temperature 
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Changes in mood 

Adderall also has several side effects that can occur when taken without other drugs or medications. These side effects are listed below.

  • Fatigue 
  • Not feeling “normal”
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Headaches 
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Aggression 
  • Stomach problems 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Insomnia 
  • Nervousness 
  • Dry mouth 

Adderall is a safe medication for people with ADD and ADHD. People without these conditions or a prescription should not take Adderall.

What are the Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Adderall?

The mixture of alcohol and Adderall is dangerous and comes with many risks. Ultimately, several things can go wrong when alcohol is mixed with Adderall. These risks vary but some can be fatal.

The risks of mixing alcohol and Adderall are listed below.

  • Increased risk of heart attack 
  • Changes in blood pressure 
  • Increased risk of alcohol poisoning 
  • Increased risk of abusing other drugs 
  • Difficulty with breathing 
  • Death 
  • Coma 
  • More uncomfortable hangover 
  • Organ failure 
  • Lowered GPA 
  • Seizures 

To mitigate the risks that come with mixing alcohol and Adderall, we recommend against mixing the substances. While a few standard drinks won’t cause too much harm, bouts of binge drinking can be fatal.

How Long After Taking Adderall Can I Drink Alcohol?

Typically, you can drink alcohol between 24 and 48 hours after taking Adderall. Since Adderall can come in instant release (IR) or extended-release (XR) variations, the substance can remain in the body for different amounts of time.

IR Adderall is processed faster by the body. The medication is released instantly and remains in the body for about 24 hours. That said, the effects of IR Adderall peak after about 1 hour, and people no longer feel the effects of IR Adderall after about 6 hours. Therefore, some people can drink alcohol later in the evening if Adderall was taken in the morning. We still recommend waiting for at least 12 hours after taking IR Adderall.

On the other hand, XR Adderall takes longer for the body to process. By design, the medication releases into the body at several intervals. People begin to feel the effects of XR Adderall an hour after taking the medication and can feel the effects for up to 12 hours. Adderall XR peaks after about 6 hours. Based on how long it remains in the body, you should avoid alcohol until the next day (at least).

What Should You Not Mix With Adderall?

You should avoid mixing Adderall with other drugs unless you consult with your doctor. Adderall can cause changes to heart rate and blood pressure, so mixing it with some medications can be deadly. Mixing Adderall with other drugs can also increase the risk of overdose.

Below are the substances you should not mix with alcohol.

  • Antidepressants 
  • Xanax 
  • Marijuana 
  • Alcohol
  • Hallucinogens 
  • Melatonin 
  • Other amphetamines

Mixing Adderall with any of these substances can lead to severe side effects. Additionally, mixing Adderall with some drugs and medications can lead to overdose and death.

When taking Adderall, there are also some other substances to consider. Substances that increase gastrointestinal acid can reduce Adderall’s effectiveness and lower the absorption of Adderall. Some common substances that cause this problem are fruit juice, glutamic acid HCI, and ascorbic acid.

How is Alcohol and Adderall Addiction Treated?

Alcohol and Adderall addiction are treated in similar ways. For alcoholism treatment, people can enter into rehab programs. Rehab programs can help with detoxification from alcohol or provide therapy and counseling. Some alcoholism rehab programs are also inpatient programs that house recovering alcoholics for extended periods.

Treatment for Adderall addiction is handled in similar ways. While alcohol and Adderall work differently in the body, the mechanisms of addiction are similar. Therefore, Adderall Addiction can also be treated with outpatient rehab, inpatient rehab, or detox. The symptoms of withdrawal can be severe for both alcohol and Adderall addiction.

In rare cases, individuals can be addicted to Adderall and alcohol at the same time. These cases are known as co-occurring disorders and they’re more challenging to treat. Co-occurring disorders can require long-term therapy and detox medications. The therapy helps medical professionals identify the root cause of addiction, while detox medications help people remain comfortable as the body returns to normal.

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction or Adderall addiction it’s important to get help sooner rather than later.