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Concurrent Alcohol and Methylphenidate Abuse

Man with pills on table and alcohol

Many people use methylphenidate to improve their lives and help manage certain mental health symptoms. However, many also abuse this drug in an attempt to achieve a high or even to alleviate their symptoms more than the prescribed dose will.

Further, when methylphenidate use is combined with drinking behavior, the combination can become very dangerous, as each drug can dull the effects of the other—markedly increasing the risk of overdose.

The Problem of Alcohol and Methylphenidate Abuse

Methylphenidate is an effective central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medication that treats symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which include hyperactivity and poor focus in both children and adults.

The medication is marketed as the short-acting Ritalin and the longer-acting Concerta. Other trade names include: Metadate, Methylin, and Focalin. While considered safe for medical use, methylphenidate is often abused for its euphoric high and feelings of wakefulness and alertness.

When these substances are combined, the risk of overdosing and experiencing alcohol poisoning presents a danger, since methylphenidate can decrease the user’s perception of drunkenness.


Signs and Symptoms

Methylphenidate

  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Irregular or quickened heart rate.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Decreased quality and quantity of sleep.
  • Irritability.
  • Anxiety/suspiciousness.
  • Seizures.
  • Strokes.

Alcohol

  • Erratic mood.
  • Decreased coordination.
  • Poor memory and focus.
  • Slurring speech.
  • Poor decision-making skills.

Intensified Symptoms/Increased Dangers

As mentioned above, alcohol and methylphenidate are commonly taken together to create a more euphoric high that decreases some of the potentially less desirable side effects of each drug (like sluggishness or jitters, at opposite extremes).

Here’s how it works: the stimulation from methylphenidate mixes with the depressant qualities of alcohol, so that the user feels less agitated and less drunk, but the body still experiences the effects of each. This can result in issues such as:


Effects of Alcohol and Methylphenidate Abuse

When used long-term, methylphenidate and alcohol are each drugs of dependence. This means that your body will build a tolerance to the substances, requiring greater amounts to achieve the same results. This makes overdose more likely.

Additionally, long-term abuse of these substances can lead to:

  • Poor nutrition.
  • Liver disease.
  • Cardiac disease.
  • Depression and irritability.
  • Poor energy.
  • A change in sleep patterns.

Learn more about the effects of alcohol and methylphenidate use.


Alcohol and Methylphenidate Abuse Treatment

Treatment for psychological addiction and physical dependence varies widely between patients. Because of this, consider these generalities when seeking substance abuse treatment:
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Alcohol and methylphenidate abuse is complicated, but it can be treated when appropriate action is taken. Call for free at to talk to someone about how to find the treatment options best for your situation.


Key Statistics

Alone, methylphenidate is responsible for many calls to poison control and emergency room visits. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that:

  • Almost 10,000 calls to poison control in 2011 involved methylphenidate.
  • More than 6,000 visits to emergency rooms in 2011 involved methylphenidate, a significant increase from the year before.

In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that:

  • In 2009, there were over 650,000 ER visits due to alcohol only or alcohol combined with another drug.
  • Of those visits, almost 230,000 were because of alcohol combined with other agents, including stimulants like methylphenidate.

Alcohol and Methylphenidate Abuse in Teens

Both prescription drug use and alcohol use have increased among teens and young adults. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) found that:

  • The number of students abusing prescription stimulants shot up by 93% from 1993 to 2005.
  • More than 1,700 student fatalities had resulted from alcohol poisoning or overdose and injuries related to alcohol.

Prevention

Preventing teen alcohol and methylphenidate abuse means staying vigilant, especially if your teen has a Ritalin or Concerta prescription. Make sure to monitor any prescriptions and to educate your child on the dangers of both substances and the risks incurred when combining these drugs.

Learn more about teen alcohol misuse, drug misuse and alcohol misuse prevention.


Resources, Articles and More Information

See the following articles for additional information on alcohol and methylphenidate abuse, addiction, and treatment:

To learn more about rehab programs and treatment options, contact a caring admissions navigator with American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at .

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