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Adderall and Alcohol

Adderall and alcohol are two of the most commonly used and abused substances in the United States. Both substances are legal, although Adderall requires a prescription. Mixing these two substances can be extremely dangerous, as the effects of both compete in the body.

Adderall

Age of inappropriate adderall users

Adderall is a prescription pill typically used by those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is characterized by impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. This disorder affects children, teenagers, and adults. Adderall is classified as a stimulant, and is also sometimes used to treat those who suffer from narcolepsy.

Unfortunately, many people fall victim to the addictive nature of Adderall. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found “it is mainly 18-to-25-year-olds who are inappropriately taking Adderall” (1). Young adults are especially susceptible to addictive substances like Adderall, as this age group’s brains have not fully developed yet, particularly in the Frontal Cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for decision making and executive functioning. Thus, when young adults find a prescription they can take advantage of, perhaps from family members or friends, the consequences can be disastrous.

So, how would one know if their young-adult child is abusing Adderall? Some typical characteristics include:

  • Weight loss
  • Excessive excitability
  • Aggression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Running out of prescriptions early
  • Mania
  • Impulsivity
  • Emotional outbursts

Some other side effects of Adderall to be aware of include depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It is important to address Adderall abuse issues quickly, as overdose can occur. Overdose is more common when the pill is crushed and snorted, due to the possibility of heart attack, stroke, or liver failure. Adderall is an effective medication when taken properly for legitimate mental health disorders; however, its potential for abuse is high and the potential consequences are deadly.

Alcohol

By itself, alcohol is a substance used recreationally all over the world. Alcohol is legal, and classified as a depressant. The substance itself is actually ethyl alcohol, and is made when yeast ferments the sugars in fruits, grains, and vegetables. For as long as we have been around, humans have used alcohol to relax, socialize, and have fun.

Unfortunately, many people abuse alcohol, and for some it can become a full-blown addiction. The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that an Alcohol Use Disorder is a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using” (2). It is a spectrum, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. The statistics on how many people suffer from an AUD is staggering; the NIH reports that 16 million people in the United States alone suffer from this (2). The way that this occurs is multifaceted. Some people may not realize they are abusing alcohol until it is too late, and they are already addicted. Some are genetically predisposed to an AUD, and recreational use turns into addiction quickly. Regardless, the dangers of an Alcohol Use Disorder are prevalent.

It is not always easy to tell if someone is abusing alcohol. However, some common signs include:

  • Drinking before noon
  • Binge drinking
  • Blackouts/memory lapses
  • Hiding alcohol
  • Refusing to abstain from drinking when alcohol has caused employment, relationship, social, or other issues

Overdose is also common with alcohol. Alcohol overdose occurs when basic life-support functions (breathing, heart rate, temperature control) begin to shut down (3). This can cause permanent consequences, and even be fatal. Furthermore, alcohol is one of the only substances that can cause death due to withdrawal. Other drug withdrawals, such as heroin or methamphetamine, are extremely uncomfortable, but are not life-threatening the way that alcohol can be.

Adderall risks

Mixing Adderall and Alcohol

It has been clearly established that both substances, Adderall and alcohol, can be extremely dangerous when abused. However, what is not commonly talked about is the danger of mixing these two substances at the same time. Many young adults experiment and recreationally use various substances, but are not aware of how dangerous this can be.

Alcohol is a depressant, whereas Adderall is a stimulant. One common misconception is that these two effects “cancel each other out.'' This is simply not true. Rather, the two substances compete in the body. In fact, Adderall use actually increases the risk of things like heart-attack, stroke, and other conditions brought on by alcohol abuse. This is because alcohol abuse can actually increase one’s heart rate and blood pressure (4). When combined with a stimulant, these risks are compounded.

Treatment

As described above, the dangers of mixing Adderall and Alcohol are numerous. Many young people are exposing themselves to risks they are not even aware of. Here at Mountainview Recovery, we work extensively with our patients to address substance abuse issues, as well as underlying mental health concerns. If you or a loved one need help, please visit us at https://mountainviewrecoveryco.com/ or call (855) 544-8462.