Mixing Alcohol and Ritalin Side Effects and Interactions
Ritalin is used to treat symptoms of ADHD in children and adults. Less commonly, it is used to treat narcolepsy. Ritalin’s generic name is methylphenidate. When someone takes Ritalin as prescribed, it changes certain chemical concentrations in the brain in order to help improve focus and to reduce impulsive behaviors. Despite the benefits for people with ADHD, Ritalin and other central nervous system stimulants are often abused. These drugs can create feelings of euphoria, sociability, energy, motivation and loss of appetite. Since Ritalin and other ADHD stimulant drugs affect brain neurotransmitters and reward pathways, an addiction can develop. The risk of addiction is higher in people with a history of substance use disorders, or someone who recreationally abuses Ritalin.
Ritalin is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S. The Drug Enforcement Administration has determined that Ritalin has a high potential for abuse and has many of the same effects as amphetamines and cocaine. The DEA also points out that there are severe risks associated with the abuse of Ritalin, including damage to the blood vessels and lungs, cardiovascular complications, psychotic episodes and severe psychological addiction.
According to the DEA, Ritalin is commonly abused by young people because there are so many prescriptions for it, making it easy to obtain. Young people, such as high school or college students, are also more likely to mix alcohol and Ritalin. This is a dangerous combination since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and Ritalin, on the other hand, is a stimulant. While the effects of each substance can be masked by the other, that doesn’t mean that they cancel each other out. For example, mixing alcohol and Ritalin can disguise the feeling of being drunk that usually come with drinking. A person may not feel severely intoxicated when they are -which puts them at risk for alcohol poisoning when they drink with Ritalin. Alcohol poisoning can cause respiratory problems, unconsciousness and 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.
Many of Ritalin’s most dangerous side effects are also increased when the drug is combined with alcohol. This is because alcohol alters how the body processes Ritalin. The result can be increased concentrations of Ritalin in the body. Side effects associated with mixing alcohol and Ritalin can include high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, anxiety, drowsiness and a racing heart rate. Mood problems like depression can also occur. The most severe possible side effects of mixing alcohol and Ritalin can include heart attack, stroke or sudden death.
Mixing alcohol and Ritalin also increase the likelihood of a drug overdose because alcohol increases the amount of Ritalin in the body. The risk of overdose is even higher with an extended-release version of Ritalin. Signs of a Ritalin overdose can include vomiting, tremors, hallucinations, palpitations, sweating, fainting and blurred vision. Other Ritalin overdose symptoms may include seizures, confusion and rapid heartbeat.
Mixing alcohol and Ritalin is never a good idea. There are not only physical risks, which can be deadly, but it can also create complicated drug abuse problems. It is more complex to treat simultaneous addictions to alcohol and Ritalin than one substance alone. It can also complicate withdrawal and make the experience more difficult as well. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, tremors and nausea. Ritalin withdrawal can include depression, fatigue and sleep disturbances. Detoxing from both substances at the same time can be significantly more difficult and uncomfortable for patients. Physical risks of mixing alcohol and Ritalin include drug overdose, alcohol poisoning, extreme intoxication and cardiac events.
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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.
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