Adderall and Alcohol: Risks, Effects & Interactions

Written by Theresa Valenzky

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

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Mixing Adderall and alcohol can lead to a variety of dangerous effects, including an increased risk of overdose.

If you or a loved one take Adderall while drinking, you may be concerned about interactions and side effects. Adderall is a stimulant medication often used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), while alcohol is a common depressant. Mixing the two agents can lead to many risks, including overdose, cardiovascular problems and mood changes. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of taking them simultaneously.

Can You Take Adderall With Alcohol?

It is best to avoid drinking if you take Adderall. This is due to multiple safety concerns about combining the substances, including:

  • Stimulants like Adderall can mask alcohol’s sedating effects, leading you to drink more than you otherwise might
  • People with ADHD have an increased risk of developing an alcohol addiction 
  • Increased chances of side effects if you combine Adderall and alcohol

The Dangers of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol

Mixing Adderall and alcohol is dangerous and can lead to multiple complications. These include an increased risk of alcohol poisoning, cardiovascular problems, impaired judgment and decision-making and mental health issues. It is important to avoid mixing the two substances.

Increased Risk of Alcohol Poisoning

The risk of alcohol poisoning increases when you mix alcohol with stimulants like Adderall. This is because of the stimulating effects of Adderall mask alcohol’s sedating effects. Because alcohol’s sedating effects often are the trigger to let people know they are becoming drunk, interference from a stimulant can increase the risk of alcohol overdose. 

Cardiovascular Risks

Dangerous cardiovascular complications can occur from mixing Adderall and alcohol. This is because Adderall and alcohol compete for the same liver enzymes that break down both substances. This competition leads to Adderall lingering in your system for longer than expected, increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems, which can include:

  • Increased pulse rate
  • Chest pain
  • Blood pressure changes

In rare but serious cases, people can even have heart attacks from mixing Adderall and alcohol.

Impaired Judgment and Decision-Making

Being drunk can impair your judgment and decision-making. People who struggle with alcohol are also more likely to have chronically impaired judgment and decision-making abilities. In addition, ADHD is known to impact a person’s judgment and decision-making abilities negatively. Drinking alcohol when you have ADHD may, therefore, exacerbate the underlying executive function issues a person has.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health problems like depression are common in people who drink heavily and in those who have ADHD. In fact, almost two-thirds of people who struggle with drinking also have depression. For this reason, it is important to be vigilant about the risk of mood disorders if you drink and have an underlying condition like ADHD.

How Long After Taking Adderall Can I Drink Alcohol?

You should avoid alcohol for a few days after taking Adderall. This is because Adderall’s half-life is around 14 hours, which is how long it takes your body to get rid of half of even a single Adderall dose. Because it takes five half-lives to remove a drug, Adderall may linger in your body for almost three days after the last dose.

Can You Overdose on Adderall and Alcohol?

It is possible to overdose when you mix alcohol with a stimulant like Adderall. This is because alcohol’s sedating effects are masked by stimulants like alcohol, making you feel less drunk. If you do not feel drunk, you may continue to drink, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Why Do People Mix Adderall and Alcohol?

People may mix Adderall and alcohol for different reasons. In some cases, people might intentionally want to mask alcohol’s depressant effects with the stimulating effects of Adderall to get more drunk than they normally would. In other cases, they may unintentionally mix the substances without realizing there is an increased risk of overdose when combining the two substances. Regardless, it is important for people to understand the risks of mixing Adderall and alcohol before taking them together.

Alcohol and ADHD

Regularly drinking alcohol can be risky if you have ADHD. This is because studies show that up to 43% of people with ADHD will develop an alcohol use disorder. 

Alcohol addiction is treatable, but complications can arise when it occurs with another medical condition like ADHD. These complications include:

  • Spending less time with loved ones 
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Undergoing rapid changes in behavior and mood
  • Taking excessive risks 
  • Suicidal thoughts

How To Recognize Adderall and Alcohol Abuse

When a person struggles with an addiction to Adderall, alcohol or both, they often start to show symptoms. Friends and family are often the first ones to pick up on these symptoms. As a result, it’s important to be vigilant about possible warning signs if you or a loved one take Adderall and drink alcohol.

Adderall and Alcohol Warning Signs

Warning signs of an Adderall or alcohol addiction often emerge when a person starts to rely on the substances. Signs usually begin to show up, which can include:

  • Unsuccessfully trying to stop or cut back on Adderall or alcohol 
  • Always thinking about the next time you’ll have Adderall or drink
  • Cravings for Adderall or alcohol
  • Spending a lot of time seeking, using or recovering from Adderall or alcohol 
  • Neglecting other responsibilities due to Adderall or alcohol
  • Interpersonal problems due to Adderall or drinking
  • Spending less time with friends, family and loved ones because of Adderall or alcohol
  • Engaging in risky behavior linked to Adderall or alcohol
  • Taking Adderall or alcohol despite knowing that doing so is harmful
  • Needing more Adderall or alcohol to achieve the same effects you had at first
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Adderall or alcohol

When To Seek Help

If you have two or more of the warning signs for Adderall or alcohol addiction, it is time to seek help. Two or three signs indicate a mild addiction, while four or five indicate a moderate addiction and six or more signs indicate a severe addiction. Fortunately, recovery is possible with addiction treatment and help.

Treatment for Adderall and Alcohol Abuse

If you struggle with Adderall and alcohol, recovery is possible with help and support. An addiction to multiple substances at the same time is called polysubstance abuse, and it requires knowledgeable experts to help support you in your recovery from Adderall and alcohol and treat the underlying reasons you began to rely on the substances in the first place.

Detox and Rehab for Adderall and Alcohol

The first step in recovery from Adderall and alcohol is detox. In a medically supervised detox setting, you will be gently weaned off Adderall and alcohol, with any withdrawal symptoms treated as medically appropriate. Round-the-clock care from doctors, nurses and a team of professionals will help ensure your progress.

Following detox, rehab can set you on the path to a full recovery from Adderall and alcohol. In rehab, you begin group and individual therapy to explore why you became addicted in the first place, and you start to learn healthy coping mechanisms and habits. Rehab often follows a progression from inpatient to outpatient programs to give you the support you need when you need it.

Counseling and Therapy

Individual and group counseling and therapy programs are a cornerstone of the recovery process. Through these programs, you can explore the unhealthy coping skills that led to addiction and begin to develop new, healthier skills for your Adderall and alcohol-free life. Counseling takes place in all rehab programs, and telehealth may be available.

Support Groups and Recovery Programs

After rehab, it is important to maintain your focus on your recovery over the long term to help ensure your long-term sobriety. To this end, support groups and alumni programs are available. By participating in these groups, you can continue to concentrate on your successful recovery over the months and years following medical detox and rehab.

If you or a loved one struggles with Adderall and alcohol, help is available. Our caring experts at The Recovery Village Indianapolis are with you every step of the way: contact us today to learn more about how we can help.


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