Substance Use

Methylphenidate and Alcohol Substance Abuse

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

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Mixing Alcohol With Methylphenidate: What Are the Dangers?

Methylphenidate is a stimulant most commonly prescribed in the treatment of ADHD. For those with ADHD, methylphenidate can help increase alertness and focus, but it has a very different effect on people without ADHD.

One of the most common ways that methylphenidate is misused is with the combination of alcohol. If you or someone you love is misusing methylphenidate, it’s essential to get accurate information. Contact Zinnia Healing on our website or call us today at (855) 430-9439 for more information. 

What Is Methylphenidate?

Methylphenidate is commonly prescribed to individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s sold under multiple brand names, but the most common is Ritalin. The purpose of methylphenidate is to stimulate the central nervous system, which results in increased focus and cognition.

The reason why methylphenidate is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance is that its use in ADHD patients is widely recognized. Still, it is considered to have a high risk of addiction — particularly in those without ADHD. 

Especially in people without ADHD, methylphenidate can lead to feelings of euphoria that can be addicting. The “high” feeling produced by methylphenidate has to do with its impact on the brain. Stimulating the production of dopamine (the “feel good” chemical) activates the reward center in someone’s brain. Therefore, methylphenidate and other stimulants can worsen drug use and impact behavioral health.

The majority of people who misuse methylphenidate do not have ADHD. While someone with ADHD could misuse methylphenidate, the effects work differently on neurotypical individuals. The prevalence of misinformation about stimulant medications like methylphenidate has led to more use, especially amongst young adults.

When it comes to how methylphenidate is misused, individuals can take more than the standard dose to achieve and intensify the “high” feeling that makes methylphenidate appealing for recreational use. However, another way to misuse methylphenidate is to mix it with alcohol. 

The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Methylphenidate

One of the biggest dangers of mixing alcohol with methylphenidate is that it tricks you into thinking that you can drink more. Because you “feel” fine, you are at an increased risk of alcohol poisoning. Additionally, combining a stimulant and a depressant sends conflicting signals to your body, which can lead to life-threatening side effects.

While alcohol tends to sedate and slow down the body, stimulants, like methylphenidate, increase your heart rate and energy levels. When you put the two together, unexpected side effects can arise and quickly become serious. For instance, you might experience severely impaired cognition, fainting, and trouble breathing. 

Even if you don’t experience negative side effects when mixing alcohol with methylphenidate first, continued use can lead to additional risks. For instance, since methylphenidate leads most individuals to drink more than usual, they can rapidly develop a tolerance to alcohol and physical dependence. This can lead to the development or worsening of an alcohol use disorder.

Drugs like methylphenidate are marketed as “study drugs” designed to increase focus and cognitive performance. Misusing methylphenidate can lead individuals down the path of trying other drugs. Prescription stimulants can also harm mental health by contributing to insomnia and anxiety.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance misuse, it’s okay to ask for help. Contact Zinnia Healing on our website or call us today at (855) 430-9439 for more information. 

Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Methylphenidate?

Since alcohol is a depressant and methylphenidate is a stimulant, some think they can counteract each other’s negative effects. This belief is a common misconception that can turn deadly.

Individuals often take methylphenidate before a party or big night out because its stimulant effects can reduce the depressant or sedative effects of drinking alcohol. This means that someone can have more drinks or party longer before feeling the “down” that comes with alcohol. However, methylphenidate in no way eliminates the effects of alcohol within the body.

Instead, all methylphenidate does is lessen a person’s ability to feel those effects. This effect means an individual will end up drinking far more, leading to alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. Stimulant drugs like methylphenidate also have multiple side effects and risks, even without alcohol.

Using the two together leads to a complex form of substance abuse known as “polydrug” use. This type of prescription drug use can be more challenging to treat as it requires two kinds of addiction treatment plans, one for methylphenidate and one for alcohol.

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol With Methylphenidate

While most people try mixing alcohol with methylphenidate to counteract the negative effects of alcohol consumption, they often find themselves in a more dangerous situation. Methylphenidate can suppress the initial side effects of your first few drinks, but additional damage occurs inside the body.

By the time most people have a few drinks, they’ll experience dizziness, drowsiness, and concentration issues that are far more intense than if they had only consumed alcohol. However, with additional impairment, individuals may continue drinking more, putting them at risk of alcohol poisoning. 

Heart failure and respiratory depression can also become fatal if someone does not quickly recognize the signs and get medical attention. In the long-term, mixing alcohol with methylphenidate can also lead to psychiatric side effects, including developing or worsening depression, anxiety, and insomnia. 

Together, these side effects can worsen an individual’s overall mood and outlook, especially if they start misusing methylphenidate and alcohol to escape negative thoughts and feelings. It can also contribute to liver disease, psychosis, and high blood pressure.

For all these reasons, you must check in with those around you and seek professional help for those suffering from a substance use disorder. 

Zinnia Healing Can Help

Mixing alcohol with methylphenidate is dangerous and can even become deadly, but it’s often a sign of a bigger underlying problem. Drug abuse combined with alcohol abuse presents a complex issue. Addiction to either leads to serious withdrawal symptoms that are both uncomfortable and dangerous. Addiction to both requires a specialized treatment program with the involvement of caring healthcare providers.

With a holistic residential treatment facility like Zinnia Healing, you can get the support and guidance you need to identify the cause of your addiction and move forward. Are you interested in learning more about your treatment options? Contact Zinnia Healing on our website or call us today at (855) 430-9439 for a free and confidential conversation with one of our recovery specialists.