Stimulants and alcohol are common sources of addiction. They can be used together or separately. Either one can be deadly, but they are more harmful when combined. This article will take a look at both substances and provide information on what you can do if addiction occurs.
Stimulants are substances that raise activity in the brain to promote feelings of pleasure, focus, and wakefulness. Stimulants increase dopamine1 and norepinephrine2 in the body. Dopamine induces feelings of pleasure in the body while norepinephrine affects the nervous system as well as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.
Stimulants are often prescribed to people with ADHD to increase focus, but some people use them to promote feelings of pleasure. Others may take stimulants to feel more awake or alert.
There are several prescription amphetamines on the market, including:
Adderall: Adderall changes the balance of natural substances in the brain. It is made from a mix of amphetamine salts. It is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.
Ritalin: Ritalin is similar to Adderall in that it changes the chemical balance in the brain. It is also used to treat ADHD and sleep disorders.
Adderall vs. Ritalin: The main difference between Adderall and Ritalin is that Ritalin hits the body and produces effects sooner. However, Adderall stays in the body longer.
Some amphetamines that can only be bought on the street, including:
Meth: Methamphetamine (also known as crystal meth) is a white crystalline drug that is in the same drug class as cocaine. It can be snorted, injected, or smoked. Crystal meth produces feelings of hyperactivity and false confidence.
Cocaine: Cocaine is a tropane alkaloid made from cocoa leaves. It is usually snorted, but it can also be smoked. It can also be taken as crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is a free base form of the drug that is smoked to produce short, intense stimulating effects.3
Some people think alcohol is a stimulant because it produces stimulating effects. Alcohol can boost energy and heart rate and give you a false sense of confidence. However, alcohol eventually slows down your body and decreases heart rate, thought clarity, and blood pressure. Therefore, alcohol is primarily considered a depressant.
Some people may combine Adderall and alcohol as a stimulant. They may enjoy the increased feelings of pleasure they both bring on initially. They may also use the alcohol to bring themselves down from the Adderall high so they can sleep better.
Adderall and alcohol are dangerous substances to mix. Adderall dulls the effects of alcohol so people may not realize how drunk they are. They may end up poisoning themselves. Adderall can also cause heart problems, and this risk increases when combined with alcohol.
Ritalin and alcohol are another common stimulant and alcohol combination. Like Adderall and alcohol, many people combine Ritalin and alcohol to counter each other. The alcohol counters the Ritalin high to produce a sense of calm.
Ritalin dulls feelings of drunkenness, causing people to overindulge. It can also increase side effects like high blood pressure, a racing heart, and anxiety, and it may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Meth and alcohol may be the most dangerous stimulants and alcohol combinations listed so far. When people are high on meth, they may use alcohol to increase their high or they may count on alcohol’s depressing effects to reverse it.
When you take this dangerous combination, you may experience serious symptoms almost immediately. These symptoms include hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, seizures, coma, anxiety, blackouts, heart problems, brain damage, liver damage, and more.
Some people may take cocaine and alcohol together to intensify feelings of pleasure or they may use alcohol to bring them down from the cocaine high.
Cocaine and alcohol are a dangerous mix. When the two substances combine in the liver, they can produce a substance called cocaethylene that builds up in the body and damages the heart and liver. 4
The combination can also cause lapses in judgment that can lead to self-harm as well as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, breathing problems, and more.
Stimulants’ ability to promote feelings of pleasure in the brain makes them addictive. They can also become addictive if someone commonly needs to turn to stimulants to feel more awake and alert.
In some cases, people that are prescribed stimulants may become addicted. They may purposely take high dosages to increase the pleasurable effects, or they may not feel that they are getting the results they are looking at a lower dosage. They may ask their doctors for more of the drug, and if they don’t get it, they may look to street dealers as a source.
Stimulants are meant to increase focus and feelings of alertness, but over time, they can begin to produce unwanted side effects.
Short-term effects include:
Long-term effects include:
It is possible to overdose on stimulants. An overdose is even more likely to occur after stimulants and alcohol are combined.
Here are some overdose symptoms to look out for:
Fortunately, there are treatment options for people that are addicted to stimulants. A good first move is to check into a rehab center. From there, treatment professionals will guide you through detox to eliminate harmful substances from the body. Detox will be followed up with treatments such as:
Various therapies can be used to treat addiction. Therapy aims to determine the underlying cause of the addiction and treat it at its root. Therapists help patients find healthy reactions to stressors to replace addictive behavior.
Therapy can be ongoing, but at some point, you will be given the ‘all clear’ to leave the rehab facility. It is recommended that patients continue with an outpatient treatment that will prepare them for sober living.
Medications may also be prescribed as part of treatment. Prozac5 is often used to improve mood in patients that feel depressed or anxious after becoming sober. Naltrexone6 is effective in helping people overcome stimulant dependence.
If you or someone you know is addicted to stimulants and alcohol, Iris Healing® can help. We provide end-to-end rehab service including detox, therapy, and outpatient treatment. We will get you on the right path when it comes to overcoming underlying issues and getting your life back.
Don’t let addiction take over your happiness. Call Iris and look forward to enjoying life again.