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Medically Reviewed

The Dangers of Mixing Ritalin and Alcohol

- 8 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

medically-verified

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health conditions diagnosed among children. Unfortunately, this condition tends to affect people into adulthood. According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), 4.4% of U.S. adults suffer from ADHD.

One of the most common medications used to treat ADHD is Ritalin. Ritalin is a stimulant drug that can lessen impulsivity and increase focus among people with this condition. While Ritalin is effective in treating ADHD, many people abuse it for its euphoric and energetic effects.

Whether you take Ritalin as prescribed or abuse it, you should never mix it with alcohol. Drinking alcohol while taking Ritalin can cause increased side effects and put you at risk of overdosing.

If you or a loved one mixes Ritalin with alcohol, you should be aware of the dangers. This type of substance abuse can lead to alcohol poisoning and increase blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, you could develop an addiction.

Thankfully, drug and alcohol treatment programs can help you overcome alcohol and Ritalin addiction. Contact PAX Memphis today to learn more about your treatment options.

What are the Effects of Ritalin?

Ritalin is the brand name for a substance known as methylphenidate. It belongs to a class of drugs known as central nervous system stimulants. If you do not have ADHD, it could cause you to feel euphoric, and energized, and have a lessened need for sleep.

The common effects of Ritalin include:

  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Stimulating effects like increased energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Stomach pain or heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • A rush of euphoria

If you are taking Ritalin for ADHD, it should improve impulsivity and increase focus. Those without ADHD might experience effects similar to other stimulant drugs like cocaine. Because of this, people without the condition may become addicted to Ritalin.

What are the Effects of Alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant drug, which means it slows down activity in your central nervous system. The sedating effects of alcohol can be addictive. People often misuse this substance to experience euphoria, relaxation, and lowered inhibitions.

The common effects of alcohol include:

  • Euphoria
  • Chattiness and increased confidence
  • Relaxation
  • Impaired judgment
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Memory loss

Some people who drink alcohol have a hard time controlling how much they drink. When you consume a lot of alcohol at once, this is known as binge drinking. The amount of alcohol you drink can impact the effects you experience.

According to the CDC, “One in six US adults binge drinks, with 25% doing so at least weekly.”

Binge drinking causes more serious side effects like being unable to walk, difficulties in speech, and even loss of consciousness. You could experience alcohol poisoning, which may lead to coma and death. In other words, you should always avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol at once.

The Risks of Combining Alcohol and Ritalin

Ritalin and alcohol have opposite effects on the brain and body. Alcohol is a depressant while Ritalin is a stimulant.

People might believe that combining the substances causes the effects to cancel each other out. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception. Mixing alcohol and Ritalin can lead to dangers like increased side effects, overdose, and addiction.

The main risks of combining alcohol and Ritalin include:

Increased Side Effects

Alcohol changes the way your body processes Ritalin. Instead of canceling the Ritalin out, it increases the amount that your body absorbs. As a result, you could experience increased side effects of Ritalin.

The side effects of mixing Ritalin and alcohol may include:

  • Racing heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in mood
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Extreme drowsiness

Because alcohol increases the side effects of Ritalin, you are at risk of experiencing heart attacks and stroke. Unfortunately, this can lead to sudden death.

Addiction

Both Ritalin and alcohol are known to cause addiction when abused. Mixing these substances can increase your chances of developing a substance use disorder.

The signs of addiction include:

  • Lowered performance at work or school
  • Frequently getting into trouble or risky situations
  • Engaging in secretive behavior
  • Having a hard time controlling how much of a substance you use
  • Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
  • Sudden mood swings or changes in behavior
  • Lack of motivation
  • Combining substances to experience a more potent effect
  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to misuse substances
  • Sudden changes in friend circles, hangouts, and hobbies
  • Legal issues related to substance abuse
  • Financial issues or stealing
  • Continuing to use a substance despite facing social, mental health, or physical health issues
  • Increasing the dose of a substance to experience the desired effect
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms when you stop using a substance

Ritalin Overdose

Because alcohol increases the effects of Ritalin, it could lead to an overdose. Being aware of the signs of a Ritalin overdose can help you determine whether your loved one needs emergency medical services.

The signs of a Ritalin overdose include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

Alcohol Poisoning

When you are mixing Ritalin and alcohol, you might not notice how much alcohol you consume. The effects of Ritalin could overpower the symptoms of alcohol intoxication. Unfortunately, this might cause you to drink too much, leading to alcohol poisoning.

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow and irregular breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Clammy skin
  • Dulled responses and choking
  • Extremely low body temperature, bluish skin color, or paleness

Find Help for Ritalin and Alcohol Abuse

If you or a loved one regularly combines Ritalin and alcohol, you might have a substance use disorder. Thankfully, drug rehab programs can help you overcome addiction. Rehab centers will use a combination of support groups and group therapy to help you identify the root causes of your addiction.

Contact PAX Memphis today to learn more about addiction treatment.