Do doctors prescribe Xanax for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Learn how the benzodiazepine can help people with ADHD and if addiction is possible.

When prescribed correctly, Xanax and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common combination.

Xanax, or alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety and panic.

Benzodiazepines make gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter, stick around longer in brain cells. In patients with anxiety, this effect has a near-immediate calming effect.

Someone with ADHD has a low attention span, and they are overly impulsive and overly active. ADHD affects mostly children. Two out of three children with ADHD go onto have it as an adult.

People with ADHD have difficulty managing racing or anxious thoughts. However, Xanax is not used to control symptoms of anxiety. Xanax is approved to treat people with panic and anxiety disorder. Both panic and anxiety disorders are debilitating conditions that make it hard for a person to function in usual situations.

Does Xanax Help or Hurt People with ADHD?

Xanax may be useful for people with both an anxiety condition and ADHD. Like other benzodiazepines, Xanax is habit-forming and should only be used short-term. Over time, Xanax loses the ability to manage anxiety symptoms but continues to be addictive even when it no longer works well for anxiety.

Therefore, Xanax may be helpful for certain people with anxiety and ADHD at first, but should not be used for a long period.

How Does Xanax Interact with ADHD Medication?

Xanax acts as a depressant but most medications that treat ADHD are stimulants. You should not combine these medications unless they are prescribed by a physician. ADHD medications and Xanax have the potential for abuse.

Some commonly prescribed medications for ADHD are:

  • Amphetamine salts (Adderall)
  • Atomoxetine (Strattera)
  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Xanax does not have any drug interactions with those ADHD medications. However, having no known drug interactions does not mean that the combination is safe.

Potential Side Effects of Mixing ADHD Medication with Xanax

People who abuse ADHD medication, whether it is prescribed or not, might take Xanax to ease some of the symptoms of stimulant abuse. Some symptoms of stimulant abuse include:

  • Change in sex drive
  • Grinding or clenching teeth
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness

Xanax can help reduce the unpleasant side effects of stimulant abuse. Stimulants are usually habit-forming, and using a second habit-forming drug to treat the side effects of the first can lead to developing a drug addiction.

Final Thoughts: Xanax and ADHD

Keep the following key points in mind regarding Xanax and ADHD:

  • Xanax is a habit-forming prescription drug that treats anxiety and panic disorder
  • People with ADHD can be hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive
  • Xanax should never be used to treat symptoms of ADHD
  • Xanax can be used for people with an anxiety disorder and ADHD
  • Stimulants treat ADHD and can be habit-forming
  • Sometimes people who abuse stimulants take Xanax to help ease the side effects of the stimulant
  • Both Xanax and many ADHD medications are addictive and may require inpatient rehab treatment

If you live with a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder, like having a Xanax addiction along with ADHD, contact The Recovery Village today and take the first step toward a healthier future. You deserve good physical and mental health, call today.

Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
Conor Sheehy
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

MedlinePlus. “Amphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” 2019. Accessed May 28, 2019.

National Institute of Health. ‌“DailyMed – XANAX- Alprazolam Tablet.” 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019.

WebMD. “Understanding ADHD the Basics.” 2002. Accessed May 28, 2019.

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.