Before we dive into this recipe for potential disaster, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding its ingredients, shall we? Alcohol. Check. We’re all very well acquainted. Adderall? You’ve probably heard of it.
But just in case you haven’t, here’s the skinny: Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in both kids and adults. With ADHD diagnoses on the rise, more and more people are being prescribed Adderall.
If that party involves alcohol, the answer is a firm nope, because alcohol is a depressant, whereas Adderall is a stimulant. And no, these opposing forces do NOT have a balancing ebony-and-ivory, yin-and-yang, peanut-butter-and-jelly effect.
These substances are anything but compatible. Instead, they compete with each other, and your body risks getting caught in the crossfire.
You see, Adderall stimulates your central nervous system by dialing up the dopamine and norepinephrine activity in your noggin, making you feel more focused and sharp (hence why it’s also used to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy).
Alcohol does just the opposite: It dulls excitatory activity in your brain’s nerve pathways and blocks communication between nerve cells.
So, yeah, getting your drink on with Adderall is #BadNewsBears for a number of reasons.
Drunk on delay
You might think you know your drink limit, but if you’re taking Adderall, you may want to think again.
This medication is processed by the same liver enzymes as alcohol, so you may feel the effects of one substance more than the other, depending on which one your liver is currently dealing with.
As a result, you might feel like you could knock back a few more when your body has already had its last call. Think of it like this: Your body has fully downloaded the alcohol, but your brain is still buffering.
No matter how drunk or sober you feel while on Adderall, overdoing it on the sauce becomes more likely, which can lead to alcohol poisoning and other regrettable behavior.
No, we’re not talking about drunk-texting your ex and getting left on read. We’re talking about literal damage to your heart.
All stimulants carry some risk of heart problems, and these risks increase if you drink while taking those stimulants, surpass your prescribed dose, or both.
An Adderall-alcohol combo could:
- increase your blood pressure
- increase your heart rate
- cause an irregular heart rate
- raise your body temperature
We all know drinking too much can spoil your mood and turn an ABBA-approved dancing queen into a veritable jerk.
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and encourages aggressive behavior — and not always for the better. Throw Adderall into the mix, and the risk of a bad buzz increases.
Everybody and every body is different, so mixing alcohol and Adderall can have unpredictable and varying results.
But certain factors — like your body weight, other medications you may be taking, how sensitive you are to stimulants, and dosage — can affect the side effects of mixing.
And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that abusing Adderall or taking it without a prescription puts you at an even greater risk for dangerous complications, whether or not you mix it with alcohol.
If you have ADHD, a few (or all) of the following symptoms may seem familiar:
- trouble concentrating or focusing on one task
- easy distraction
It’s not your fault. People with ADHD simply have an imbalance of dopamine and norepinephrine in their brains. These warm-and-fuzzy chemicals help your brain recognize when something good happens.
This is known as the reward mechanism, which feels like winning a prize or getting a text from your crush. Since alcohol can increase dopamine in the short term, people with ADHD may use it to self-medicate, which is definitely a bad idea.
In the long run, drinking depletes dopamine levels and can make your ADHD even worse. Basically the definition of a vicious cycle.
With all this talk of death and tremors, you may ask yourself why anyone would take Adderall in the first place.
Well, the symptoms of ADHD — hyperactivity, restlessness, etc. — can make daily life a challenge, and Adderall is very effective at correcting the irregularities in brain chemistry that cause those pesky behaviors.
If (BIG “if”) you need it, Adderall can be a real life- and time-saver. Furthermore, a 2017 study found that taking Adderall may reduce the risk of substance abuse in people with ADHD. So it’s not all bad when used as directed.
And the not-so-upside…
Adderall is a Schedule II drug, which means it’s a controlled substance with a high risk for addiction or abuse.
Unfortunately, non-medical use is on the rise — especially among college students, for whom abuse and misuse are becoming big problems.
In one study, 36 percent of collegiate Adderall users reported taking too much Adderall, and 19 percent said they used Adderall intentionally with alcohol or other drugs. Not such wise choices for those receiving a university-level education.
We’ll take a hard pass on this combination. While Adderall is an effective treatment for ADHD, it is by no means a cocktail mixer. And even when used on its own, this medication comes with considerable risks.
Don’t take Adderall without a prescription, and if you have one, just do what it says! That’s why doctors write them, after all.