What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants refer to different kind of drugs, all of which speed-up or stimulate the brain and central nervous system. Stimulants are psychoactive drugs, and when someone uses them, they can increase awareness, focus, mood and alertness. Some stimulants are prescription drugs, while others are illegal street drugs. Stimulants are considered addictive. Along with substances like caffeine and nicotine, other stimulants include cocaine, prescription stimulants like ADHD medications and methamphetamine. Cocaine is one of the most often misused drugs in the U.S., and it has short-lived effects. Prescription ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have become increasingly misused, especially among teens and young adults. These drugs are readily available because there are so many prescriptions written for them. Methamphetamine is a dangerous, illegal drug that can lead to long-lasting highs but also serious effects such as brain and organ damage.

When someone uses stimulants, it affects their central nervous system, and more specifically, it makes more of certain neurotransmitters available. These neurotransmitters include norepinephrine and dopamine. When there is more availability of these brain chemicals, a person experiences a euphoric high and sense of confidence and sociability. Other desirable effects of stimulant misuse can include increased cognitive function, wakefulness and energy, and weight loss because of appetite suppression. With those sought-after effects, there are unfortunately quite a few negative effects. Stimulant misuse can cause addiction, brain damage, cardiac problems and damage to the organs and tissues. Stimulant misuse can also cause strokes and seizures.

Mixing Alcohol And Stimulants

Mixing alcohol and stimulants is never a good idea, whether it’s prescription or illicit stimulants. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so it has an oppositional effect as compared to stimulants. Due to the effect, the side effects of both substances can be amplified, rather than canceling each other out. The use of alcohol can also increase the concentration of drugs in the system of the individual, which makes it more likely they will overdose. Specific risks of mixing alcohol and stimulants include:

  • When alcohol is mixed with a stimulant such as amphetamine, it can cause the person to drink more than they would normally. This is because the stimulant is masking the effects of intoxication. The result can be alcohol poisoning. Mixing alcohol with ADHD drugs can also make it more likely the person can experience cardiac problems, stroke or seizures. Even the mild symptoms of mixing alcohol with prescription stimulants can include nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
  • Alcohol and cocaine is an all-too-common combination. People may mix alcohol and cocaine to intensify their high or to help them come down from the stimulant effects of the cocaine. However, mixing alcohol and cocaine makes the risk of sudden death 20 times higher than it is with the use of either substance alone. Cocaine and alcohol used together can increase the chances of violent behavior, and it’s an unpredictable combination that can affect someone differently every time they use it.
  • Methamphetamine is arguably one of the most dangerous stimulants and drugs there is. Meth mixed with alcohol can dangerous or violent behavior. Mixing the two can make the crash from meth more severe, and it can trigger thoughts of suicide or depressive periods. A person who’s mixing alcohol and meth may underestimate how much of either substance they’re using, putting them at risk for an overdose or death.

Summing Up Side Effects And Interactions Of Mixing Alcohol And Stimulants

Mixing a central nervous system depressant like alcohol with any stimulant can lead to an unpredictable outcome. Symptoms can be mild, such as nausea and vomiting, or it can lead to severe problems like heart attack, stroke or seizure. Mixing alcohol and stimulants, particularly at high doses, can also cause sudden death. Those aren’t the only concerns, however. Mixing alcohol and stimulants creates more of a likelihood of addiction and dependence developing to both. Treating multiple simultaneous addictions can be more complex, and withdrawal can be more severe and challenging as well.

The Recovery Village works with people with all types of addictions and provides them and their families with the hope that treatment can bring. Reach out to us to learn more.

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.