Mixing Alcohol and Dexmethylphenidate Side Effects and Interactions

Dexmethylphenidate is a prescription drug, also sold under the brand name drugs Focalin and Focalin XR. Dexmethylphenidate stimulates the central nervous system and is primarily prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Off-label, dexmethylphenidate is also used to treat narcolepsy. Focalin and Focalin XR have a black-box warning due to their potential for abuse and addiction. Dexmethylphenidate, and its brand name variations, are similar to drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs can cause a euphoric high. Dexmethylphenidate specifically works on brain neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine and dopamine. This drug can increase alertness, energy levels, focus and concentration.

Sometimes, people abuse dexmethylphenidate in order to lose weight. The drug speeds up certain body processes and reduces appetite, which is why they’re popular as weight loss aids. Dexmethylphenidate is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S. This indicates that the federal government has determined that dexmethylphenidate has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Anyone with a history of substance abuse or addiction should let their physician know before they begin using dexmethylphenidate. Using dexmethylphenidate outside of how it’s prescribed increases the chances of developing an addiction.

Dexmethylphenidate Mixing It and Alcohol

There are different reasons that people might mix alcohol and dexmethylphenidate. First, dexmethylphenidate is often used by people to stay awake and study for long periods of time. They might also mix it with alcohol recreationally. Some people might mix alcohol and dexmethylphenidate as a way to come down from the stimulant effects of the drug as well. Regardless of the reason for mixing alcohol and dexmethylphenidate, the practice is dangerous and can have detrimental side effects.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Dexmethylphenidate is the opposite—it’s a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. Since dexmethylphenidate is a stimulant, it not only affects certain brain neurotransmitters, it also causes changes in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Alcohol, as a CNS depressant, slows down thinking, coordination and causes side effects like slurred speech and a lack of judgment and control. Some people might think that a CNS depressant could cancel out a stimulant when the two substances are combined. This is not the case. Alcohol changes the way the body processes and metabolizes dexmethylphenidate. This can lead to side effects like increased heart rate, mood problems, anxiety, drowsiness and high blood pressure. For people with pre-existing heart conditions, drinking alcohol with dexmethylphenidate can increase the risk of severe or deadly side effects like a heart attack or stroke.

When a person mixes alcohol and dexmethylphenidate, they are at a higher risk of overdosing as well. The increased risk of overdose occurs because alcohol leads to higher concentrations of dexmethylphenidate in the blood and body. When people use extended-release versions of dexmethylphenidate, such as Focalin XR, the risk of overdose is even higher. This happens because the presence of alcohol in the system releases more dexmethylphenidate into the body -all at one time. Someone who mixes alcohol and dexmethylphenidate is more likely to experience alcohol poisoning. Dexmethylphenidate conceals the symptoms of intoxication and effects of alcohol, so the individual isn’t necessarily aware of how much they’re drinking. They may drink a dangerous amount accidentally without realizing it. Alcohol poisoning can cause respiration problems, confusion, loss of consciousness and death. Someone who is mixing these two substances may also have memory impairment, and they may put themselves in dangerous situations or cause harm to others.

Along with the dangers and potentially deadly side effects, there are other complications and risks associated with mixing alcohol and dexmethylphenidate. Someone who is regularly mixing substances may develop an addiction or dependence upon both substances. If someone is physically dependent upon alcohol and dexmethylphenidate, it can make withdrawal symptoms more severe as the individual detoxes. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, nausea, sweating, fatigue, tremors, depression and sleep problems. When someone is addicted to multiple substances simultaneously, their complex addiction profile has to be specifically addressed during addiction treatment.

To learn more about treating multiple simultaneous addictions or dependencies, contact The Recovery Village. We specialize in working with participants to create treatment plans, tailored to their needs, in order to provide the best chances of successful recovery.

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