Understanding the Risks of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol

Last Medical Review On: May 27, 2024
Updated On: May 27, 2024
4 min read
Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Medical Review by:

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., M.S.

Adderall and Alcohol
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    It’s not unusual for people to seek medications to improve their lives. Adderall and alcohol are two of the most common drugs available for these purposes. More than half of US adults report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.[1] However, the combination of alcohol and Adderall can pose significant risks that are easy to underestimate.

    What is Adderall commonly used for?

    Adderall is prescribed to manage the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, as well as narcolepsy. It contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These are stimulant medications that increase the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.

    What are the intended effects of Adderall?

    The effect Adderall has on you may vary depending on several factors, including dosage, tolerance, and whether it has been prescribed by a doctor or is being used recreationally. The positive effects of Adderall include:

    • Increased alertness: Adderall is a prescription stimulant. It may help you feel more awake and attentive.
    • Improved focus: It may also enhance your ability to concentrate on tasks and maintain attention over time.
    • Enhanced cognitive function: Adderall may improve your memory and cognitive performance.
    • Increased energy: Adderall use often boosts energy, making it easier for you to perform tasks.
    • Decreased appetite: Adderall is often an appetite suppressant, so you may feel less hunger.
    • Elevated mood: You may have feelings of happiness and low-level euphoria while taking Adderall.

    What are the negative effects of Adderall?

    When used incorrectly or when the user has an intolerance, Adderall can have negative effects, as well, including:[2]

    • Insomnia: Adderall may interfere with normal sleep cycles, leading to difficulty falling asleep.
    • Anxiety: You may experience increased feelings of anxiety or nervousness, especially at higher doses.
    • Increased heart rate: Adderall is a stimulant. Stimulants can elevate heart rate and blood pressure. This can be risky if you have cardiovascular issues.
    • Loss of appetite: The appetite-suppressing effects of Adderall can lead to significant weight loss if not monitored closely.
    • Headaches: You may experience headaches as a side effect of taking Adderall.
    • Substance abuse and addiction: Adderall has a high potential for abuse. Heavy use can lead to Adderall addiction and dependence.

    What is alcohol commonly used for?

    Common uses of alcohol

    Alcohol is a common drink that people use for a huge variety of reasons.

    • Socializing: Many people consume alcohol in social settings with friends or family.
    • Relaxation: Alcohol is a depressant. It’s often used to destress and unwind.
    • Celebrations: Drinking alcohol is a part of many cultural and social traditions, such as weddings, holidays, birthdays, and many more.
    • Culinary purposes: Alcohol is often used in cooking to enhance flavor and aroma.

    What are the intended effects of alcohol?

    Moderate alcohol use can have a positive effect. These include:

    • Relaxation: Moderate alcohol consumption may help you unwind and reduce stress.
    • Social lubricant: Alcohol can facilitate social interactions by reducing inhibitions and making you feel more comfortable in social settings.
    • Cardiovascular benefits: Some research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may have cardiovascular benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease.
    • Enjoyment and celebration: Alcohol may add to your enjoyment of special occasions.

    What are the negative effects of alcohol?

    High-intensity drinking is defined as drinking two or more times the binge-drinking thresholds for women and men.[3] This can lead to a variety of negative effects.

    1. Impaired judgment and coordination: Alcohol can impair your cognitive functions and motor skills. This may lead to poor decision-making and an increased risk of accidents.
    2. Health risks: Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with various health risks, like liver disease, cardiovascular problems, weakened immune system, digestive issues, and an increased risk of cancer.
    3. Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction: Alcohol is addictive. Approximately 17% of adults binge drink and 7% report heavy drinking.[4] Regular drinking can lead to dependence. This makes it difficult to control your consumption and may lead to withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit.
    4. Mental health issues: Alcohol abuse can contribute to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
    5. Social problems: Heavy drinking can impair performance at work or school, disrupt social relationships and relationships with loved ones, and lead to social isolation and stigma.

    The Clear Dangers of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol?

    Mixing Adderall and alcohol can have unexpected consequences. The combination poses serious risks to both your physical and mental health, including:[5]

    • Masked intoxication: Adderall and alcohol can mask the effects of each other, leading to difficulty in accurately judging your level of intoxication.
    • Increased risk of overdose: The inability to estimate your level of intoxication significantly raises your risk of alcohol poisoning as well as Adderall overdose, as you may consume more alcohol or Adderall than you can safely tolerate.
    • Exacerbation of negative side effects: Combining Adderall and alcohol may amplify the negative side effects each substance presents, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and impaired judgment.
    • Heightened risk of accidents: The combination of impaired judgment and coordination can lead to a higher risk of accidents.
    • Long-term health consequences: Repeated mixing of Adderall and alcohol can result in long-term health issues such as liver damage, cardiovascular problems, and mental health disorders.

    Why should you avoid mixing Adderall and alcohol?

    Making sure you do not take Adderall and alcohol at the same time is important due to the severe risks associated. Combining these substances can easily lead to life-threatening consequences. Prioritize your well-being and safety by choosing zero-proof drinks and abstaining from this dangerous combination.

    When To Seek Help

    If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse or Adderall abuse, you don’t have to face it alone. Many outpatient and inpatient treatment programs and treatment centers are available that can help save your life.

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    Frequently asked questions about mixing Adderall and alcohol


    Can Adderall and alcohol be used together safely?


    Mixing Adderall and alcohol is not safe in any capacity. Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat conditions like ADHD. Alcohol is a depressant, which is the opposite of a stimulant. When combined, these drugs may have unpredictable and dangerous effects. It’s essential to prioritize health and safety by avoiding the simultaneous use of Adderall and alcohol. If you have concerns or questions about medications and alcohol, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.


    How long after using Adderall should you wait before using alcohol?


    The interaction between Adderall and alcohol will vary quite a bit based on factors like your physiology, your dosage levels, and how often you use these medications. It’s usually recommended to avoid consuming alcohol while Adderall is still active in your system. Adderall typically has a duration of action of about 4 to 6 hours, but this can vary between individuals. Consult a healthcare professional for guidance on safe practices.


    How long after using alcohol should you wait before using Adderall?


    Make sure to give your body enough time to eliminate any alcohol from your system before taking Adderall. The exact amount of time will vary depending on factors such as the amount of alcohol you consume and your metabolism. It’s best to consult a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate waiting time after drinking alcohol before taking Adderall.


    What are the most common Adderall withdrawal symptoms?


    Adderall withdrawal symptoms may vary in severity and duration based on several personal factors. Some common withdrawal symptoms include:[6]

    • Fatigue: You may face extreme tiredness when you stop taking Adderall.
    • Increased appetite: You may experience increased hunger and subsequent weight gain after its appetite-suppressant qualities wear off.
    • Depression: Feelings of sadness, irritability, or mood swings are common during withdrawal.
    • Anxiety: Adderall withdrawal can also trigger feelings of anxiety.
    • Insomnia: Disrupted sleep is a common withdrawal symptom. You may have insomnia or sleep excessively.
    • Difficulty concentrating: Withdrawal can lead to difficulties in staying focused.
    • Cravings: You might get intense cravings for Adderall, which can make withdrawal more challenging.
    • Physical symptoms: Head and muscle aches are also possible during Adderall withdrawal.

    What are the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms?


    Alcohol withdrawal can produce a range of symptoms, including:[7]

    • Anxiety: Feelings of nervousness, tension, or unease are common during alcohol withdrawal.
    • Shakiness: Tremors may occur as your body adjusts.
    • Nausea: You may experience nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset during withdrawal.
    • Sweating: Profuse sweating can be a symptom of alcohol withdrawal.
    • Insomnia or disturbed sleep: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is also very common during withdrawal from excessive alcohol use.
    • Headaches: Alcohol withdrawal can be accompanied by headaches or migraines.

    CDC – Data and Maps – Alcohol. (2019). CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/data-stats.htm


    Adderall: Mild to serious side effects and how to manage them. (2023, March 23). Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drugs-adderall-side-effects#serious-side-effects


    NIAAA. (2017). Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Nih.gov. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-dangers-of-alcohol-overdose


    CDC – Data and Maps – Alcohol. (2019). CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/data-stats.htm


    Dangers of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol. (2014, September 30). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-and-alcohol#takeaway


    Coping with the Comedown: Managing Adderall Crash. (2014, October 17). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-crash#adderall-crash


    Mayo Clinic. (2022, May 18). Alcohol use disorder – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243

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