Concurrent Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse
The Problem of Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse
Just because two substances can each be obtained legally does not mean that they are safe together. The risk associated with alcohol and amphetamine use increases when these addictive substances are used simultaneously.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Being a stimulant means that amphetamines can increase activity levels, attention, alertness, and energy in a way similar to cocaine.
There are several brand names for oral amphetamines, with Adderall being the most recognized.
When used as prescribed, these medications are effective with some side effects but, when combined with alcohol, problems frequently occur.
The stimulant properties of amphetamines can mask intoxication from alcohol. Conversely, the depressant effects of alcohol can blunt the stimulant effects of amphetamine. As a result, when consumed in combination, users can end up using dangerous, toxic levels of both.
Teen Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse
Due to their levels of access to the substance, teens and young adults abuse amphetamines at levels higher than the rest of the population. Unlike other types of drug use that have decreased in this demographic, amphetamine abuse is increasing overall, especially in high school students. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that between 2011 and 2014:
- Lifetime amphetamine abuse has increased from 5.2% to 6.7% among those in 8th grade.
- Past-year amphetamine abuse has increased from 6.6% to 7.6% among 10th graders.
- Past-year use of Adderall specifically has increased from 6.5% to 6.8% of 12th grade students.
When you pair this information with that statistic that 60.2% of 12th graders abused alcohol in the last year, the prevalence of alcohol and amphetamine abuse becomes clearer.
Prevention is a key factor in limiting amphetamine abuse by teenagers. To prevent abuse:
- Educate yourself and your teen regarding the addictive qualities of amphetamine medications and the myth that they aid academic performance.
- Keep an accurate count of amphetamine medication in the home.
- Be sure that your teen takes the medication rather than saving it to abuse later.
- Keep the prescription in a safe, locked location.
Signs and Symptoms
When abused, amphetamines have the ability to minimize the tired and groggy feelings associated with alcohol intoxication. Abusers will take amphetamines when drinking to extend the time that they can drink heavily. This extended time increases the risk of alcohol poisoning from overconsumption, leading to organ damage and death. In turn, alcohol can intensify the pleasurable influence of amphetamines.
Effects of Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse
There is no debate that alcohol and amphetamines are both very addicting when abused. Additionally, over time, people develop tolerances to these drugs, which means that more of the substance is required to achieve the same results. This increases the risk of overdose. Long-term, concurrent abuse of amphetamines and alcohol can lead to:
- Serious depressive, anxious, or psychotic symptoms.
- Skin disorders from picking and scratching.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Major organ problems including heart and liver damage.
- Rhabdomyolysis, or muscle necrosis.
- Thoughts of suicide.
- Convulsions and seizures.
Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse Treatment
People addicted to alcohol and amphetamines need to seek professional treatment. Suddenly stopping use without observation can be difficult, uncomfortable, and potentially deadly due to withdrawal symptoms.
Once someone decides to stop abusing alcohol, a period of supervised detoxification is necessary to avoid these risks.
Detoxification is a medically supervised process of allowing the body to process and remove any remaining trace or influence of drugs. During this process, medical professionals will:
- Monitor vital signs.
- Administer medications to improve comfort.
- Discuss follow-up treatment options.
After detoxification, treatment of alcohol abuse and amphetamine abuse will focus on several areas, including:
- Drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Drug and alcohol treatment will emphasize the role that the substances play in the life of the user. Work will be done to minimize people, places, and situations that maintain and encourage use. Relapse prevention will be discussed to avoid future use.
- Mental health treatment. Many people seek drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate mental health issues. Specific mental health treatment can target symptoms and encourage healthier coping skills to improve functioning. Some rehabs may incorporate co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis treatment for mental health and drug abuse into their programs.
- Medication. In an attempt to maintain recovery, a doctor may prescribe medication. Several medications exist to reduce the pleasure associated with alcohol use. If a doctor prescribed the abused amphetamine to treat ADHD symptoms or another condition, a non-stimulant medication will be more appropriate here.
Don’t wait to get your life back. Many recovery programs are designed to treat those who have struggled with the use of multiple substances. Call for free at to discuss addiction treatment options. All calls are confidential and will address your individual needs.
Resources, Articles and More Information
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