What Are The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Stimulants?
While stimulants speed the body’s systems up, depressants like alcohol slow them down. These two substances do not counteract each other, but instead send mixed signals to the central nervous system that can result in severe side effects such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, addiction, and overdose.
Can You Drink on Stimulants?
You should not combine stimulants with a depressant like alcohol.
Stimulants are drugs typically used to treat conditions such as narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. They work by increasing the activity of certain chemicals in the brain, including dopamine and norepinephrine. This can lead to increased alertness, wakefulness, and energy levels.
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it tries to slow down activity in the body. Stimulants and depressants don’t cancel each other out — instead, they intensify the risks and adverse reactions of both substances. As such, mixing alcohol with stimulants can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can strain the cardiovascular system and lead to heart attack or stroke.
How Long After Taking Stimulants Can You Drink Alcohol?
Since stimulants and alcohol should not be combined, you should consult with your doctor before drinking if you have been prescribed a stimulant. If you’re using stimulants recreationally, you should wait at least 24 hours after taking them to give your body time to clear them out of your bloodstream before you add alcohol to the mix.
For those using stimulants for certain health conditions, such as ADHD, you may need to abstain from alcohol all together to avoid worsening your condition. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s safe to drink, talk to your doctor about alcohol’s effects on the body and the risks it poses to you.
Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Stimulants?
The most commonly reported reasons for drinking alcohol with stimulants are to offset the depressant effects of alcohol, fight fatigue, and increase confidence/ reduce inhibitions.
Some people also mistakenly believe that stimulants will help them sober up by neutralizing the effects of alcohol. In reality, combining alcohol with stimulants can impair judgment and make it more challenging to assess risky situations, increasing the likelihood of accidents or injury.
People may also begin drinking and not realize that they’re taking stimulants. For instance, they may be taking prescription stimulants, such as ADHD medications, and be unaware of the potential dangers and interactions.
You’re on stimulants if you have ingested:
- Amphetamines (e.g., prescription medication like Adderall or Concerta)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- Energy drinks
Whenever you consume any of these things, you should avoid alcohol and other depressants.
Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Stimulants with Alcohol?
Alcohol and stimulants can also have a synergistic effect on the brain. This means that the combined effect of alcohol and stimulants is greater than the sum of the two drugs when taken separately. When alcohol is mixed with stimulants, it can lead to increased toxicity and a greater risk of sudden death through overdose or alcohol poisoning.
Even combining alcohol with highly accessible stimulants like energy drinks can lead to:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Memory loss
- Heat stroke
Mixing alcohol with stimulants is a type of polysubstance use, and it comes with additional risks — such as the rapid development of a substance use disorder (more commonly known as addiction).
Are you looking for a confidential treatment program that can help you overcome stimulant use or get your alcohol consumption in check? Zinnia Health can help. Call our team today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our treatment options.
What Can Happen if You Drink on Stimulants?
If you drink alcohol after consuming stimulants, the initial effects might feel uplifting and energizing.
However, as the body begins to process both substances, you may start to feel uncomfortable side effects, such as:
- Fast and/or irregular heart rate
- Increased body temperature
For someone suffering from high blood pressure or heart problems, taking stimulants can be particularly dangerous, and combining them with alcohol use will only compound the problem.
Long-term concurrent use can worsen heart conditions and damage the liver and kidneys. other negative effects may include reduced cognition, impaired judgment, and loss of motor control.
Ultimately, if you drink while taking stimulants, you are putting yourself at risk of a number of negative health outcomes along with short-term risks. For instance, while under the influence, you may be more likely to engage in risky behavior, which can lead to injuries, car accidents, and accidental death. You may also suffer from a fatal overdose.
What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol with Stimulants?
The immediate symptoms of drinking alcohol with stimulants may look like intoxication with a person slurring their words and seeming more outgoing and upbeat than usual. As the body continues breaking down these substances, the adverse side effects may become clearer. For instance, the person may become:
Since alcohol and stimulants can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning or overdose, it’s important to know the signs that require immediate medical attention. These include loss of consciousness, difficulty waking, and vomiting. An overdose requires immediate medical attention.
If a person continues to mix stimulants and alcohol over time, they may begin to form a dependence on either substance, which is marked by symptoms like:
- Changes in mood and behavioral health
- Weight loss and changes in appearance
- Increased drinking
- Increased use of other substances, like cannabis
- Withdrawing from hobbies and social circles
- Irritability, anxiety, and depression
Drug use looks different for everyone and young adults are especially vulnerable when it comes to easily accessible stimulants.
If you’re worried that someone you love is dealing with drug abuse, it’s time to reach out to a team of healthcare providers who are experienced with addiction and recovery.
How to Get Help For a Stimulants Addiction
It’s no secret that many people use drugs or alcohol to escape their problems. Whether it’s to cope with anxiety, relieve boredom, or numb pain, substances can provide a temporary respite from life’s challenges. However, what starts as recreational use can often lead to addiction.
Once someone is addicted, they may find it difficult or impossible to stop using without help. Stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine are particularly addictive, partly due to their effects on the brain. Alcohol is also highly addictive, and chronic abuse can lead to serious health problems like liver disease.
If you’re ready to take the next step toward getting help, here’s what you can do:
- Confide in a trusted friend or family member: They can help you talk through your challenges and support you by helping you get to your first appointment
- Ask your doctor: Even if you don’t want to tell your doctor about your use of stimulant medications or alcohol, they can tell you about mental health counselors in your area
- Call a helpline: Many treatment facilities operate 24/7 confidential helplines to connect you with resources, dial (855) 430-9439
- Go to a nearby hospital: If you want urgent help recovering from substance use, go to your nearest hospital or urgent care facility and they will help you. You will never be turned down, even if you can’t cover the cost of your care