Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. The exact way in which it works is unknown. However, its effects may be attributed to its ability to promote the activity of certain brain neurotransmitters called norepinephrine and dopamine.1
Adderall is the brand name for a combination of amphetamine salts. The amphetamine salts include dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, which are potent stimulants. The drug produces wakeful, euphoric, and aphrodisiac effects in some individuals. For this reason, it is often abused by athletes and students among other people. Up to 30% of students from one survey reported being asked to give, trade, or sell their Adderall.2
Another side effect of stimulants like Adderall is loss of appetite which may lend its off-label use for weight loss. Because of its potency and potential for abuse, Adderall is a schedule II drug. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and severe psychological and physical dependence.
Mixing Adderall And Alcohol
While Adderall is a stimulant prescription drug that promotes alertness, alcohol is the opposite. Whereas Adderall increases excitatory responses, alcohol inhibits NMDA and enhances the function of GABA, which causes an inhibitory response.
If you think that the effects will just cancel each other out, you are actually wrong. Adderall and alcohol will essentially compete to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain. This can cause a slew of problems that can lead to overdose and even death.3
An individual who uses Adderall may want to curb its negative side effects. They may drink alcohol to try and reduce jitteriness and anxiety. Another individual under the influence of alcohol may pop an Adderall so that they can keep partying all night. Little do they know that the effects of mixing Adderall and alcohol are unpredictable, which makes this combination even more dangerous.
Impairment And Abuse
Mixing Adderall and alcohol can cause significant impairment in both physiological and psychological processes. Someone using both substances may feel that the effects of the Adderall or alcohol is wearing off. This may influence them to take more Adderall or drink more alcohol to mitigate these effects. The complicated effects of Adderall and alcohol could lead to excess usage resulting in alcohol poisoning. More severe effects of stimulant overdose can include seizures.4
- An overdose of Adderall can lead to excessive agitation and hyperactivity followed by overt fatigue and possible cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke. In 2009, one individual with no prior heart issues, experienced a heart attack when mixing both Adderall and alcohol.5 These severe adverse events warrant the need for immediate medical attention. Even if a person lives to see another day, they may already be addicted and dependent on Adderall and/or alcohol. This dependence can lead to other negative events such as withdrawal and severe depression.
Mixing Adderall and alcohol never produces a good outcome. Many problems can arise if they are mixed, especially on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, Adderall and alcohol are one of the most common combinations of substances mixed by younger adults. College students may find themselves in situations where Adderall and alcohol may seem like a good combination for studying and partying. However, its effects are too unpredictable.
According to one survey, almost 50% of those who use Adderall also heavily drink alcohol.6 Abuse and addiction could inevitably lead to overdose and death, if it not treated. It is therefore important to always consult with a physician when initiating Adderall treatment. Likewise, it should never be shared with anyone else but the person it was prescribed for. Not only is it illegal, but it is highly dangerous.
- Kolar D, Keller A, Golfinopoulos M, Cumyn L, Syer C, Hechtman L. Treatment of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2008;4(2):389-403.
- Lakhan SE, Kirchgessner A. Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects. Brain and Behavior. 2012;2(5):661-677. doi:10.1002/brb3.78.
- Poteliakhoff A, Roughton BC. Two Cases of Amphetamine Poisoning. British Medical Journal. 1956;1(4957):26-27.
- Thomas S, Upadhyaya H. Adderall and seizures. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2002;41(4):365. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200204000-00005.
- Sichilima T, Rieder MJ. Adderall and cardiovascular risk: A therapeutic dilemma. Paediatrics & Child Health. 2009;14(3):193-195.
- Egan KL, Reboussin BA, Blocker JN, Wolfson M, Sutfin EL. SIMULTANEOUS USE OF NON-MEDICAL ADHD PRESCRIPTION STIMULANTS AND ALCOHOL AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS. Drug and alcohol dependence. 2013;131(0):71-77. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.12.004.