The Dangers Of Using Adderall With Opioids

Dangers Of Using Adderall With Opioids

Using Adderall with opioids (both prescription and illicit) can result in dangerous and unpredictable effects.

Often, formal addiction treatment is necessary to address Adderall and opioid abuse adequately.

The Dangers Of Mixing Adderall (Amphetamines) With Prescription Opioids Or Heroin

Adderall and opioids are two of the most commonly misused substances in the United States. Adderall is a prescription stimulant used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Opioids are a class of drug that includes legal, prescription medications, such as OxyContin, illicitly obtained substances, such as heroin, and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl.

The combination of Adderall and opioids can be very toxic. In general, it is never a good idea to mix a stimulant, such as Adderall with a depressant like opioids, as these medications have opposing effects. Adderall works to stimulate brain activity, and opioids work to slow brain activity.

The exact effects of mixing these two medications are dependent on several different factors. These factors include how much of each drug someone takes, an individual’s tolerance to each substance and overall metabolism.

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Possible dangers of mixing Adderall with opioids include:

  • cardiovascular symptoms
  • central nervous system symptoms
  • polysubstance addiction
  • overdose
  • intensified withdrawal symptoms

Cardiovascular Symptoms

Possible symptoms of mixing Adderall and opioids on the heart include spontaneous cardiac arrest, heart attack, or heart failure. These effects can be even more intense for individuals with congenital heart conditions and are more likely to result in death.

Central Nervous System Symptoms

The central nervous system (CNS) consists of both the brain and spinal cord. Adderall and opioids interact with the receptors in the CNS and influence the production absorption rates of dopamine and norepinephrine. Possible CNS symptoms of this mixture include dizziness, blurred vision, slowed or depressed breathing, and loss of consciousness.

Polysubstance Addiction

Polysubstance abuse, or the abuse of a combination of two or more substances, is common among individuals who misuse drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Mixing a psychomotor stimulant with opioids, sometimes referred to as a “speedball,” is one of the more popular combinations. The likeliness of polysubstance abuse advancing into polysubstance addiction increases when these medications are taken for non-medical purposes.

Overdose

One of the greatest potential dangers of mixing Adderall with opioids is the possibility of their effects masking possible overdose symptoms. For example, a hefty dose of opioids may cause someone’s breathing rate to become very depressed, but in combination with a large dose of Adderall, their breathing rate may still feel normal to them.

The effects of Adderall typically wear off before the effects of the opioids, which may cause an individual to experience difficulty breathing or possibly stop breathing altogether.

Intensified Withdrawal Symptoms

Individuals who use Adderall with opioids are at risk for intensified withdrawals from dependence to two highly addictive substances. Due to both drugs impact on dopamine levels in the brain, when someone suddenly stops using the drugs, they are more likely to experience severe depressive disorder.

Other possible withdrawal symptoms individuals may experience after stopping Adderall and opioid abuse, include:

  • flu-like symptoms
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sudden changes in mood
  • abnormal cramping
  • changes in sleeping pattern
  • fatigue and exhaustion

Withdrawal length will vary from one person to the next, depending on how long someone has abused these medications and the severity of their addiction.

Effects Of Mixing Adderall And Opioids

Mixing Adderall with opioids puts the body and brain under a lot of stress. Both substances can impact the levels of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain, namely dopamine and norepinephrine.

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Almost all potentially addictive drugs directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine helps to regulate emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure, and overstimulation of the reward system can produce the euphoric effects individuals who abuse drugs may be seeking.

Adderall and some opioids are only available through a doctors prescription. These medications are prescribed at the same time under very rare circumstances. Most doctors agree that the risks associated with using both drugs at once outweigh any possible benefit. It is a common misconception that abusing prescription opioids and Adderall is safer than abusing opioids and stimulants obtained illicitly.

Why Mix Adderall With Opioids?

There are a variety of reasons individuals may abuse Adderall with opioids. Some individuals use the combination because it produces effects greater than either drug alone (such as a more significant high or greater rush). Administration of one drug often decreases the side-effects of the other (such as the opiate decreasing Adderall-induced agitation or anxiety, or Adderall tempering opiate-induced sedation). The combination may also produce unique, desired effects specific to the individual who is misusing them.

Although some studies have examined these possibilities, there is still an incomplete understanding of the resulting interactions of the two substances, and of the behavioral consequences of coadministration of opiates and psychomotor stimulants, such as Adderall.

It is also possible for someone clinically diagnosed with ADHD to develop a co-occurring opioid use disorder. One study reports experiencing ADHD and a substance use disorder is a fairly common occurrence. It can be difficult to determine which symptoms are the result of ADHD and which symptoms are the result of opioid abuse, so it is vital that individuals in this situation seek professional, medical advice.

Treatment For Polydrug Abuse And Addiction

Polysubstance abuse and addiction can be more complicated to treat than a single substance use disorder. In most polysubstance abuse cases, detoxification is recommended. Detox is the process of removing substances from the body. Clinical studies have indicated that both Adderall and opioids should be tapered off when someone wishes to stop using them.

Inpatient rehab is one of the safest possible ways for people come off both substances and achieve lasting sobriety. With constant medical supervision, negative withdrawal symptoms can be dealt with and potentially help someone avoid relapse.

To find out more about the potential dangers of mixing Adderall with opioids, and Adderall and opioid addiction treatment, contact us today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics

National Institute on Drug Abuse - The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Opioids

U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Adderall

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