Adderall and Adderall XR (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) are commonly prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As stimulant drugs, they can help people living with these disorders to focus and/or stay awake. Unfortunately, because it is a potent stimulant drug, Adderall is commonly abused. Some young adults use it to increase their ability to achieve a great deal of work in a short period of time, improve their grades in high school or college, or improve their ability to get into grad school or land an entry-level position in a competitive industry. Others use it to accomplish a great deal in their work or school life while also managing an active social life. The end result is that they often mix recreational substances – like alcohol – with their use of Adderall and inadvertently experience dangerous medical emergencies as a result.
Work and Play
While many people purposefully use and abuse Adderall with the goal of increasing their work and school performance, many use the drug so they can more easily manage a busy overall schedule – one that includes studying for tests or completing projects at work while also connecting with friends on the weekends. Though they may not intentionally take Adderall and chase it with a beer or a cocktail, they may have taken Adderall earlier in the day with the goal of working on a project and then hitting the bars or parties when they were done. With Adderall still in their system, they may have a drink – or multiple drinks – thus inadvertently putting themselves in a situation where the two drugs are combined. Others purposefully take Adderall when they go out for the night with the intention to drink. Why? They are hoping that the stimulant effect of alcohol will allow them to stay out and drink longer without realizing that the combination of the two drugs can trigger adverse effects. These can include:
- Accident under the influence
- Increased risky behaviors that can translate into life-changing issues (e.g., unprotected sex that leads to an unplanned pregnancy or an STD)
- Medical emergency due to overdose
- Mental health symptoms that vary depending on the dose
There have been some studies that point out that the intentional combination of alcohol and Adderall is increasingly common among those who are seeking psychoactive effects of the two substances. Yet another form of abusing the stimulant pills, it’s one more thing for the doctor to consider before prescribing the drugs, something to look out for during treatment, and an important note for family members who may recognize that their loved one is struggling since starting use of their new prescription but are unsure what exactly is going on.
Freedom From Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Though some people purchase the medication from others who have a legitimate prescription, many go to a doctor and report the symptoms that will garner them an ADHD diagnosis and their own prescription for these pills. The problem for concerned family members can be in identifying the difference between side effects experienced despite a genuine need for Adderall and the effects of abusing the drug.
In either case, however, it is important to note that mixing of Adderall and alcohol can be a life-altering, if not deadly, choice. If you note the co-use of Adderall and alcohol in your loved one, don’t wait to intervene. Treatment can help them to find non-stimulant alternatives if there is an underlying medical diagnosis of ADHD and also assist them in learning how to live without the abuse of alcohol, Adderall, or any substance.