February 2019: Adderall Addiction
Mixing Adderall and Alcohol
Adderall is a brand name drug that combines two stimulants: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is used to treat hyperactivity, distractability, inattention, and/or impulsivity, as well as any other symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD).
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. An alcohol use disorder is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.
Combining these two drugs poses significant health risks to the body, including increasing the risk of overdose and alcohol poisoning. Adderall increases dopamine and norepinephrine in areas of the brain that improve focus and alertness whereas alcohol decreases the effects of neurotransmitters in the brain, slowing down bodily processes and mental function. Both drugs together can mask the effects the other while still actively working on the body, leading to an increase in use of one drug or both.
The Risks & Dangers
Adderall functions as a central nervous system stimulant, while alcohol functions as a central nervous system depressant. As a result, when Adderall and alcohol are mixed, there can be a feeling that both drugs aren’t “working” and particularly delay the onset of effects from alcohol that would normally stop someone from consuming more. This effect has been well documented and creates a much greater danger of overdose.
Breaking the Misconceptions
Some individuals believe that because Adderall is a stimulant and alcohol a suppressant, that by mixing the two they can cancel the effects of both. If someone is actively taking Adderall but want to come down from the drug, they may think by drinking they can ‘even out’. Others intentionally combine the two drugs in an attempt to delay the sleepiness of alcohol and party longer. Both views are false and misconceptions. Both drugs are still present in the body and effect the body in different ways depending on the amount of each drug consumed.
Effects of Adderall and Alcohol on the Body
As Medical News Today highlights, there is not a lot of research into the exact effects of mixing Adderall and Alcohol, outside of the negative side-effects from over-consuming each drug independently. The studies available show that combining the two drugs together tends to greatly increase the risk of experiencing symptoms such as:
- heightened or lengthened period of euphoria while drinking
- delayed onset of the sedating symptoms related to alcohol
- altered perception of being drunk
- intensified or exaggerated symptoms of Adderall or alcohol use
Significant Cross-Over Between Adderall Abuse & Binge Drinking
The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found nearly 90% of full-time college students using Adderall non-medically in the past year were past month binge alcohol users. Additionally, the survey found among full-time college students aged 18 to 22, those who used Adderall non-medically in the past year were more than 1.5 times as likely as their counterparts to have used alcohol in the past month (95% vs. 63%), more than twice as
likely to have been binge alcohol users (89% vs. 41%), and more than 3 times as likely to have been heavy alcohol users (55% vs. 15%) .
Facts on Mixing Adderall & Alcohol
A 2013 SAMHSA report found that 19% of the emergency room visits related to ADHD medications in the United States, involving people aged 18 to 25, also involved alcohol use.
The 2009 (NSDUH) survey found nearly 90% of full-time college students using Adderall non-medically in the past year were past month binge alcohol users.
A 2006 study from the University of Michigan found that men and women with alcohol problems are 18 times more likely to use prescription drugs for non medical reasons than people who don’t drink at all. (Addiction Blog)
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Adderall addictive?
While stimulants have the potential for addiction, when used properly and monitored in coordination with a physician, there is minimum to no likelihood of becoming addicted to Adderall. It’s function, when used as directed, assists brain neurons in operating normally. When misused or used by individuals without a prescription, Adderall as with any other stimulant can be addictive.
Can Adderall increase my intelligence?
TIME magazine’s article Adderall May Not Make You Smarter, But It Makes You Think You Are highlights a study on whether Adderall actually offered improvement on tests. The study’s results, not surprising from the title, indicated that students didn’t actually perform better on tests of cognitive function. The drug did however provide students with an inflated sense of productivity, likely from the increase in dopamine released in the brain by the drug.
Do I have an Adderall addiction?
According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5), there are eleven criteria defining a substance use condition including:
- Taking more of the substance than prescribed or for longer than the prescription indicates
- If you have cravings or urges to continue or overuse the substance
- Continuing to use the drug, even when you know its having negative physical or psychological effects
- The development of withdrawal symptoms when you cease taking the drug
If you think you may have an Adderall addiction, CONTACT US today and speak with our admission team to talk about how to get help.
What are the side effects of Adderall use?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) large doses of stimulants can result in psychosis, seizures, and cardiovascular events. Additional potential risks include: anorexia, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, insomnia, jitteriness, irritability, nausea, and sexual disfunction. Misuse can also affect and raise the body’s temperature which can present additional cardiovascular risks for athletes misusing the drug.
The Signs of Adderall Abuse
Adderall abuse can be difficult to identify for parents, friends, or relatives if they aren’t aware of the side-effects and signs of abuse. While symptoms and affects can vary between people, common signs of Adderall abuse include:
- Weight loss, the drug has the side effect of suppressing hunger.
- Disruption in sleep patterns or sleeping difficulties. You may notice your teen staying up throughout the night repeatedly.
- Sudden or gradual deterioration in self-care (showering, grooming, etc.) is an indication drug abuse may be occurring.
- Behavior changes, including theft, may occur to fund their continued use. You may also notice an increase in social isolation.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an Adderall addiction, it’s important to get help. Adderall overdoses can cause a coma, brain damage, or death. Significant dosages not only affect the brain, but the body’s core temperature, and can lead to cardiovascular complications. An addiction treatment center can be effective for getting clean from Adderall. The initial decline in dopamine levels from cessation can be a big struggle for someone looking to come off of the drug. An experienced clinical team of psychologists can help offer the therapy, support, and education for them to overcome this challenge.
Long-Term Effects of Adderall Abuse
Mood or behavior changes as Adderall can alter the brain if misused over a long period
Drug-induced psychosis has been reported in 8%–46% of regular users of amphetamines (NCIB)
Heart disease and other cardiovascular complications
Anxiety and increased aggression
Depression, paranoia, stroke, and seizures may occur in some cases
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If you think you have an Adderall addiction, our experienced team can offer help at one of our modern locations in Colorado. Adderall addiction can be difficult to overcome by yourself. The first step is reaching out. We help people from across the United States get the help they need. Contact us today if you need help or would like more information.
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