The Effects of Mixing Dextroamphetamine and Alcohol
It’s never a good idea to mix alcohol with drugs. Whether it’s done absentmindedly or intentionally, the practice can be harmful for a number of reasons. In some cases, negative interactions can occur even when the alcohol and drug in question are ingested some time apart from each other.1
When it comes to the commonly abused prescription drugs, adding alcohol to the mix can result in either intensified side effects or a dangerous masking of effects that would otherwise serve to help an individual monitor the amount they had ingested. Both of these scenarios apply in the case of dextroamphetamine and alcohol.
While there isn’t a specific chemical interaction between alcohol and dextroamphetamine, there are several risks associated with combining the two substances. Alcohol can exaggerate the cardiovascular effects of amphetamine drugs. Mixing alcohol with dextroamphetamine increases the risk of high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, chest pain, and other serious cardiovascular effects. For those taking dextroamphetamine as a prescribed medication, using alcohol at the same time is strongly discouraged.1,2
Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Adderall) is a potent central nervous system stimulant prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and in rare cases for obesity.2,3
Dextroamphetamine helps improve concentration and working memory, increases alertness, lowers the appetite, and decreases the need for sleep. Dextroamphetamine and other related stimulants are often misused by people who are trying to lose weight. College students and athletes who seek to improve their performance may also abuse dextroamphetamine. Because the drug induces feelings of well-being and euphoria, it has high potential for abuse.4
Long-term dextroamphetamine use can lead to the development of tolerance and dependence. Users will start to need higher doses to experience a euphoric effect. People addicted to dextroamphetamine typically exhibit a “crash and binge” cycle, where excessive amounts of the drug are taken followed by a crash later. The crash usually consists of severe depression and anxiety, extreme tiredness, and drug cravings.
Chronic dextroamphetamine abuse can induce a psychosis that is similar to schizophrenia. This psychosis may be characterized by erratic and sometimes violent behavior, auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, and picking at the skin.2
The Issues of Mixing Alcohol with Other Stimulants
The Side Effects of Taking Dextroamphetamine With Alcoholic Drinks
Because dextroamphetamine is a popular drug choice for college students, it is commonly mixed with alcohol at parties. Taking alcohol with dextroamphetamine can significantly increase the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects, even in people with no known cardiovascular problems.4 Mixing alcohol with dextroamphetamine can also intensify other side effects of dextroamphetamine, including dizziness and nausea.
Another concern is that the heightened alertness produced by dextroamphetamine will make users less aware of the sedative effect of the alcohol. This can cause people to drink too much alcohol, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.1,2,5
There are many short-term adverse effects of dextroamphetamine that may be amplified by the use of alcohol, including:2,3
- High body temperature.
- Elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
- Dry mouth.
- Changes in sex drive.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Stomach pain.
- Uncontrollable shaking.
- Weight loss.
- Loss of appetite.
More serious effects may arise as a result of mixing dextroamphetamine and alcohol, including sudden death. If any of the following side effects develop, a doctor should be contacted immediately:3
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Fast/pounding heartbeat
- Weakness/numbness in the limbs
- Excessive fatigue
- Slow or difficult speech
- Motor or verbal tics
- Loss of coordination/physical collapse
- Aggressive or hostile behavior
- Vision changes
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, or throat
Although research on the effects of dextroamphetamine and alcohol on driving ability remains unknown, driving under any psychoactive influence can still be dangerous. Some experts theorize that dextroamphetamine might reduce the sedating and impairing effects of alcohol, thus improving driving ability in situations where alcohol has been consumed. To operate a vehicle under this misguided assumption would not only be foolish, but illegal. The combination of these two substances can seriously impair judgment, increase risk-taking behavior, and otherwise negatively impact a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.6
Treatment for Addiction to Dextroamphetamine and Alcohol
A treatment program for addiction to dextroamphetamine and alcohol that works well for one person may not work for another person. Fortunately there are many different types of rehabilitation programs available for those suffering from addiction. Treatment for dextroamphetamine addiction and alcoholism typically consists of some combination of the following treatment strategies:7
- Detox programs
- Individual counseling and therapy
- Group/family counseling and therapy
- 12-step programs/support groups
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Art/recreation therapy
- Relapse prevention
People recovering from addiction to dextroamphetamine and alcohol may choose to receive treatment on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. Inpatient treatment takes place in a residential rehab facility that provides around-the-clock care every day of the week. Inpatient rehab programs generally run somewhere between 30 and 90 days. These treatment programs are intensive, allowing little to no contact with the outside world so that people can focus solely on recovery. These programs are usually a better choice for those with severe or recurring addictions.
Outpatient treatment for addiction to dextroamphetamine and alcohol is usually chosen by those who wish to remain active in their personal and professional lives. People struggling with addiction will usually come to an outpatient center for approximately 20 hours each week for therapy, counseling, support groups, and medical appointments. This allows those recovering from addiction to continue working and attending school if desired.7
Hotline to Call
Please call our 24-hour hotline if you need information about treatment for addiction to dextroamphetamine or alcohol for yourself or for a loved one who’s experiencing the effects of mixing dextroamphetamine and alcohol.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014). Mixing alcohol with medicines.
- Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013). Amphetamines.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. (2016). Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.
- Lakhan, S. E. & Kirchgessner, A. (2012). Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects. Brain and Behavior, 2(5), 661–677.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Fact sheets – Alcohol use and your health.
- Simons, R., Martens, M., Ramaekers, J., Krul, A., Klöpping-Ketelaars, I., & Skopp, G. (2012). Effects of dexamphetamine with and without alcohol on simulated driving. Psychopharmacology, 222(3), 391–399.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts: Treatment approaches for drug addiction.