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Is it ever OK to take Adderall and Xanax at the same time? Popping both meds might not seem like a big deal, especially if you only do it once in a while when you’re dealing with an acute bout of stress or trouble sleeping.

But, much like Juliet downing that potion without giving Romeo a heads-up, mixing these drugs just isn’t a good idea.

Doctors don’t typically prescribe Adderall and Xanax together — and for good reason. The drugs function in opposite ways, and layering one on top of the other could put you at risk for some serious problems.

Here’s a closer look at why you shouldn’t take both and what to do instead.

Adderall is a combo of the drugs dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It’s a stimulant medication that’s used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as narcolepsy.

How? Adderall speeds up activity in your brain by making neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine more available to the connections in your central nervous system. That can enhance your ability to focus and tune out distractions.

Side effects can include:

  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • headaches
  • difficulty sleeping
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • changes in vision

Xanax belongs to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are essentially tranquilizers. Benzos like Xanax are prescribed to help people cope with problems like anxiety and panic attacks.

How does it work? Xanax attaches to benzodiazepine receptors in your brain, which increases the activity of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA exerts a calming, sedative effect, minimizing feelings of overexcitement.

Side effects can include:

  • drowsiness or light-headedness
  • low energy
  • depression
  • headache
  • confusion
  • nervousness
  • fainting
  • restlessness
  • memory problems

Adderall is a stimulant, and Xanax is (basically) a tranquilizer. The two drugs have opposite functions in your brain, with one bringing you up and the other bringing you down.

Taking both at the same time isn’t a good idea. Here’s why.

The drugs could cancel each other out

Adderall and Xanax have totally different effects, so at the very least, taking them at the same time could make both drugs less effective. That could potentially spell trouble.

For instance, if your doctor prescribed Xanax for anxiety, taking Adderall could reduce Xanax’s calming effects and leave you feeling nervous or tense.

On the other hand, if you take Adderall for ADHD, popping a Xanax might leave you drowsy and cause you to have trouble concentrating.

You’re at higher risk of getting addicted

Both Adderall and Xanax are controlled substances — government-monitored drugs that have high rates of misuse, dependence, or addiction.

Users are at risk of getting addicted when they take just one controlled substance. Add a second one to the mix and your chances of getting addicted to both can go up.

You’re at higher risk of overdosing

You never know for sure how two different drugs might interact in your system, so why take the chance?

Benzodiazepines like Xanax already pose a significant risk for overdose, and adding a second drug to the mix can make an overdose even more likely.

There are some legit reasons why taking Adderall and Xanax together might seem like a good idea.

Maybe you need Adderall to focus but you’re going through something super stressful and having trouble sleeping. Or maybe you take Xanax for panic attacks but feel like you need a boost in the concentration department to do your best with school or work.

Those are real problems, but adding another drug to the mix on your own isn’t the solution. Instead, talk with your doctor. Together you can delve into your symptoms and talk about possible ways to address them that are both safe and effective.

For example: If you feel like Adderall is making it hard for you to sleep, you might be able to switch to a shorter-acting stimulant like Ritalin instead of also taking Xanax (which isn’t actually approved as a sleep med, BTW).

The bottom line

  • Taking Xanax and Adderall together is not a good idea.
  • Taking them together can increase your risk of addiction, overdose, and even death.
  • If you feel like you need the benefits of both drugs, chat with your doctor to find a safe and effective treatment plan to manage your symptoms.