What Is Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)?

Focalin is a brand name drug that is primarily used for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The generic name for the drug is dexmethylphenidate. Focalin is available as an extended-release drug as well. Focalin is a central nervous system stimulant that is similar to other ADHD drugs like Ritalin and Adderall. When someone uses Focalin, especially in high doses or recreationally, they may feel a euphoric high or a rush of energy. Focalin can increase many bodily functions, including the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. Focalin works on the brain by affecting certain neurotransmitters -which include dopamine and norepinephrine.

Along with creating a sense of euphoria or a rush of energy, recreational use of Focalin can lead to other effects that some may see as desirable. For example, because Focalin reduces appetite some people abuse it as a way to lose weight. It can also help people stay up for long periods of time, so it’s often used as a work or study aid. Focalin improves concentration, which is another reason it’s used by people who want to be able to focus on tasks for long periods of time.

Focalin is a federally-controlled substance, meaning that possessing it or using it without a valid prescription can lead to serious legal penalties. Nevertheless, Focalin and other prescription stimulants are commonly abused. Focalin also comes with a black box warning about the potential for abuse and addiction that can develop with the use of this drug.

Certain people shouldn’t be prescribed Focalin. This includes people with a history of substance abuse, as well as individuals with a history of cardiac problems. People with anxiety, high blood pressure, mental illness or seizures may also not be good candidates for using Focalin. Some serious side effects of Focalin that can occur with both prescribed use and recreational abuse can include changes in heartbeat, shortness of breath, slowed speech or changes in vision. Chest pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, and extreme fatigue are also dangerous warning signs.

Mixing Alcohol and Focalin

Mixing alcohol and Focalin is more common than some might think. Focalin, and other similar ADHD drugs, are prevalent on college campuses and are often either intentionally or unintentionally mixed with alcohol. Alcohol can be used as a way to come down from the stimulant high of Focalin as well.

Regardless of the situation, there are tremendous risks associated with mixing alcohol and Focalin. All of the symptoms of alcohol and Focalin, on their own, are amplified when the two substances are mixed. Focalin is a central nervous system stimulant, while alcohol is a depressant. Some people think that the two can cancel each other out because of this; however, in reality, the combination actually makes the effects worse. For example, if someone mixes alcohol and Focalin, they are at a higher risk of severe side effects like increased heart rate, raised body temperature, increased blood pressure and an irregular heart rate. Other side effects can include changes in mood or symptoms of depression or anxiety, stroke or sudden death.

There is an increased risk of overdose when mixing alcohol and Focalin as well. Alcohol causes higher concentrations of Focalin in the body, which is why the chances of an overdose increase. With extended-release Focalin, this is an even bigger risk because alcohol releases the drug into the body all at once.

When someone is mixing alcohol and Focalin, there is an increased likelihood of alcohol poisoning since the drug masks and hides the symptoms of intoxication that a person would normally feel. When someone is on a stimulant like Focalin, they may keep drinking but not feel drunk. This increases the potential for alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning causes depression of the central nervous system and can lead to confusion, loss of consciousness or death.

Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. 
If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.

Summing Up Side Effects, Interactions and Blackouts of Mixing Alcohol and Focalin

Mixing alcohol and Focalin is never a good idea or something anyone should do. Mixing alcohol and Focalin can lead to relatively mild side effects, such as drowsiness, changes in mood, or even short-term memory loss. However, mixing alcohol and Focalin can also result in severe side effects such as heart problems or a dangerously high body temperature.

It’s also more complex to treat a polysubstance dependence or addiction problem. Withdrawal symptoms for someone who is dependent upon both alcohol and Focalin can be more difficult to manage. An addiction treatment program should address the abuse or addiction to both alcohol and Focalin separately, but within the context of one another as well.

We believe that recovery is possible for everyone. Sometimes the hardest part is making the first step. You can take the first step now by contacting The Recovery Village.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.