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Adderall & Alcohol: Dangers of Mixing Both Substances

You shouldn’t mix Adderall and alcohol. Both substances can tax the liver, kidneys, and heart. The FDA explicitly warns against prescribing Adderall to people with a history of dependency or heavy abuse of alcohol or those with a similar type of dependence on or abuse of other drugs.

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If you intend to mix alcohol and Adderall, or feel you cannot stop drinking alcohol while taking Adderall, talk to your doctor about this.

Why Do People Typically Tend to Mix Alcohol & Adderall?

Mixing alcohol and Adderall is an example of polydrug use. This means an individual uses two or more drugs at the same time or sequentially. 

While it isn’t always dangerous to take multiple drugs together in this way, it is dangerous in the case of alcohol and Adderall due to their ability to stack effects in a way that increases a person’s risk of serious harm. Adderall can mask some of the effects of alcohol, making it easy to consume too much.

Intentional Abuse

Intentional polydrug abuse is often associated with young adults who party or are involved in club subcultures. People may abuse multiple drugs to elevate the high those drugs cause or sometimes to suppress unpleasant side effects of one of the drugs being used. 

Admittedly, data on the demographics of individuals who are most likely to intentionally mix alcohol and Adderall is limited, but research has made this connection with other types of polydrug abuse, such as mixing cocaine and alcohol. Polydrug users from those studies are more likely to score high on measures of drug-related sensation seeking and using drugs to deal with unpleasant emotions (albeit in an unhealthy way).

Accidental Misuse 

It’s important to highlight that not all polydrug use is the result of people intentionally abusing multiple drugs together to elevate their effects. For example, an individual with a legitimate Adderall prescription and who only uses it as prescribed may not realize it can mix dangerously with alcohol. If they then drink, that is an example of engaging in polydrug use, and it can still be dangerous, but the actual intent of the individual is different.

What Are the Risks & Dangers of Mixing Adderall & Alcohol?

The FDA warns those who have been prescribed Adderall to alert their doctor if you have ever abused or been dependent on alcohol (as well as any other substance). Adderall can increase a person’s risk of liver, kidney, and heart problems, which regular alcohol use can also do, whether a person is dependent on alcohol or not.

As a general rule, mixing these drugs is not advised due to this overlap of risk factors. Moreover, mixing these drugs becomes more dangerous the heavier and more frequent a person is using either substance. This is a common issue with alcohol, which is why it is usually recommended that a person stop drinking when prescribed a new medication until they first talk with their doctor and make sure it is safe to drink with their medication.

Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol if You Have a Legal Prescription of Adderall?

The legality of drug use doesn’t mean that the use is safe. It’s still possible to engage in dangerous polydrug use with a legal Adderall prescription while also obtaining the alcohol one is drinking legally. The actual danger is in the way these drugs can tax several of the same systems in the body.

While using Adderall only as prescribed does reduce the risk of a person developing complications, it doesn’t mean there are no risks involved with the drug or that you can otherwise ignore warnings that come with the medication and the advice of your doctor. Even if a small amount of alcohol on occasion is unlikely to cause you problems, it is better to be safe and avoid drinking while on Adderall.

The Importance of Speaking With Your Doctor Before Mixing Both Substances

You should always talk to a doctor before combining any type of drug use. Your doctor will know the way the drugs interact and the risks they can pose when used on their own or together. When a doctor prescribes a medication, they are usually doing so on the assumption that you will only use the medications they prescribed, not that you will also use other drugs like alcohol. 

If you intend to use alcohol or any other type of drug, whether it’s prescription, over-the-counter, or recreational, you should let your doctor know. They can then factor that into their recommendations and discuss whether that type of drug mixing may have dangers you weren’t aware of. 

Keep in mind that a doctor isn’t a police officer. Their goal is to help you stay safe and help you meet your medical needs. Hiding what drugs you intend to use from your doctor when they are trying to treat you has the potential to significantly impact your treatment and can potentially endanger your life.

Updated March 21, 2024
Resources
  1. Polydrug Use: Health and Social Responses. (October 2021). European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  2. Predictors and Comparisons of Polydrug and Non-Polydrug Cocaine Use in Club Subcultures. (June 2009). American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
  3. ADDERALL® (CII). (March 2007). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  4. Alcohol. (March 2022). National Library of Medicine.
  5. Extended Release Stimulant Medication Misuse with Alcohol Co-administration. (November 2008). Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  6. Polysubstance Use Facts. (February 2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  7. Prescription Stimulant Medication Misuse: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here? (October 2017). Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
  8. Prevalence and Correlates of Prescription Stimulant Use, Misuse, Use Disorders, and Motivations for Misuse Among Adults in the U.S. (April 2018). American Journal of Psychiatry.
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