Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common condition that affects people’s behavior. It is estimated that around 6.1 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD (9.4%) while the prevalence among adults is estimated at 0.96% (many children will outgrow their symptoms). Symptoms of ADHD include impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity, which can put a strain on a person’s overall quality of life.
Adderall is a popular and effective treatment option for ADHD, though it is often mixed with alcohol. This can be dangerous and actually worsen a person’s ADHD over time. In this blog post, we will look at the rise and dangers of Adderall and alcohol abuse.
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What is Adderall?
Adderall is a stimulant medication, which is used to manage the symptoms of ADHD in both children and adults. While we have noted that ADHD is most common in children, adults are the biggest consumers of Adderal in the United States.
Many adults take Adderal to stay hyper-focused, though this comes with its risks, including becoming addicted. Side effects of this include headaches, sleep problems, nervousness, hallucinations, heart disease, and dizziness.
Adderall is an FDA-approved prescription drug. It is known as a Schedule 2 drug, which means that it is a controlled substance and has a high potential for abuse and addiction.
In its treatment for ADHD, the benefits of Adderal include reduced impulsivity and improved focus and attention. It helps people with ADHD by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which leads to increased activity in the central nervous system.
As we will see below, alcohol use depletes dopamine, which can make the symptoms of ADHD worse.
Risks of Taking Adderall With Alcohol
In this section, we are going to highlight the risks of mixing ADHD with alcohol. While alcohol is a depressant, Adderal is a stimulant, and they compete with each other within the body. This can result in serious problems.
Here, we will look at the common risks of mixing stimulants and depressants, namely affecting dopamine levels, heart problems, behavioral issues, and alcohol problems.
Affects Dopamine Levels
ADHD is linked to lower levels of dopamine, as well as norepinephrine, in the brain. They are known as feel-good neurotransmitters and are part of the body’s reward system. These chemicals kick in when a person experiences something positive, such as getting good news or falling in love.
We have noted that Adderal helps to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. Some people, in an effort to better manage the symptoms of ADHD, turn to alcohol which in the short term can actually increase dopamine levels. However, it is important to understand that, over time, alcohol use depletes dopamine which can make a person’s ADHD worse.
Stimulant drugs like Adderal do carry a risk of heart problems. This risk increases if a person takes a higher dose than what they have been prescribed by a doctor.
The risk of heart problems is greater still if Adderal is taken with alcohol. Some of the effects of mixing Adderal and alcohol here may include increased heart rate, raised body temperature, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of irregular heart rate.
Drinking has the effect of reducing a person’s inhibitions, which can result in aggressive behavior. When Adderall is added to the mix, there can be an increase in these effects (reduced inhibitions and more aggressive behavior).
One of the effects of Adderal is that it can dull the symptoms of being drunk. That means that a person who uses both alcohol and Adderal may not be aware of the amount of alcohol they have consumed.
The knock-on from this is an increased risk of over-drinking. Related consequences include alcohol poisoning and risky behavior.
The Rise of Abuse With Adderal
When taken in the right way, as prescribed by a doctor, Adderal is a safe and effective treatment for ADHD. However, it can be abused.
Non-medical use of ADHD drugs such as Adderal is on the rise in the United States. One study has found that more than 7% of people between the ages of 18 and 49 years abuse ADHD medications. Importantly, the study found that more than half of the people who abuse these drugs also consume alcohol while taking their medication.
Full-time college students are the largest group abusing ADHD drugs. They are often taken with the intent of performing better in school, as well as reducing their need to sleep. A high percentage of students who abuse Adderal also consume alcohol to excess, which can result in the issues we have highlighted above.
Get Help for Adderall and Alcohol Abuse
The bottom line is that while Adderal can play an important role in helping people with ADHD live more productive lives, it is a strong medication that should only be used as prescribed.
When combined with alcohol, it can result in serious consequences. These include heart problems, alcohol poisoning, and behavioral issues, as well as making ADHD worse. While taking Adderal, alcohol should be avoided.
Here at APEX Recovery in San Diego, we can help with your Adderall and alcohol abuse. We offer accredited care for five levels of substance abuse treatment programs. Please note that we don’t accept Medi-Cal at this time but do accept self-pay options.
For more information on getting effective treatment, contact us today for a free consultation.