Xanax and Adderall both work by altering the functions of the brain and central nervous system but in opposite ways. Because Xanax is a depressant (or “downer”) which slows brain activity, and Adderall is a stimulant (or “upper”) which increases brain activity, taking both medications together can drastically reduce the effectiveness of both.
This may lead to a patient’s symptoms getting worse, and a potential desire to increase dosages of one or both drugs to levels that are unsafe.
Both Xanax and Adderall have addictive properties, so taking both medications can increase the chances that a person will develop an addiction. Finally, combining Xanax and Adderall can exacerbate the side effects of both drugs.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax is the brand name of the drug generically known as alprazolam. Used primarily to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and anxiety associated with depression, this commonly prescribed medication belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines (often referred to as “benzos”).
Xanax is highly addictive and is most effective when used over a short period of time. Long-term use can lessen its effectiveness and require dosages to be increased.
How Does Xanax Work?
Xanax and other benzos—including Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium—are depressants/tranquilizers that produce a calming effect by acting on a person’s brain and central nervous system. These medications enhance the effects of a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
GABA reduces nerve activity in the brain, so when someone takes Xanax, their brain activity is actually slowed, which helps them cope with the symptoms of their disorder.
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What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a brand name stimulant made up of a combination of two different drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Its most common use is for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in both adults and children. It is also sometimes prescribed to treat the sleeping disorder, narcolepsy, and depression.
How Does Adderall Work?
Adderall stimulates a person’s brain by raising levels of neurotransmitters, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all of which aid in the transfer of signals between brain cells. This increases brain activity and can help improve a person’s ability to pay attention and focus on activities. In some cases, Adderall can also aid in managing behavioral problems like impulsiveness.
Potential Side Effects Of Combining Xanax And Adderall
Individually, Xanax and Adderall both have their share of side effects.
For Xanax, these include:
- difficulty concentrating
- sexual dysfunction
- shortness of breath
- memory issues
- mood changes
- suicidal thoughts
Some side effects of Adderall are:
- lack of appetite/unhealthy weight loss
- difficulty concentrating
- shortness of breath
- rapid heartbeat
- increased blood pressure
When the two medications are taken together, the severity of the side effects from either drug can increase dramatically. Because both drugs act on the central nervous system, the risk of seizures also becomes greater, as does the chance for problems with major organs like the brain, lungs, and heart.
Depressants slow the heart rate, while stimulants increase it. Taking both medications at the same time can send the body mixed messages, which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure. Other complications can include a shutdown of essential body functions, like breathing, and can even cause death.
Why Do People Mix Xanax And Adderall?
The most common reason people mix Xanax and Adderall is to counteract the effects of one drug or the other. If someone who is taking Xanax is feeling too down, they may think taking a stimulant like Adderall will provide them with a boost of energy. Conversely, a person taking Adderall may feel excessively energetic, so they may decide to try taking Xanax to help calm themselves.
Another reason someone may mix Xanax and Adderall is to experience what is called a “pharmaceutical speedball.” In the world of recreational drug use, a speedball is the combination of a stimulant and a depressant, which are both administered simultaneously.
Abuse of stimulants delivers a quick high and boost in mood, followed by a long-lasting state of euphoria, which is then offset by the calming properties of the depressant. Traditionally, speedballs involved the use of street drugs like cocaine and heroin, but today, pharmaceutical drugs often take their place.
Treatment For Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is becoming more common in the U.S. all the time, yet many people don’t receive the help they need in overcoming this abuse. With the right help and an adequate addiction treatment program, individuals struggling with abuse of or addiction to prescription drugs can learn to manage addiction and taper off use of these drugs.
Treatment programs vary, and in some cases, people struggling with Xanax abuse may need a medical detox program, which allows them to rid their body of harmful toxins gained during abuse. Behavioral therapy has also proven effective at helping people addicted to prescriptions like Xanax and Adderall implement behavioral changes which help them manage addiction long-term and prevent relapse.
Contact us to learn more about prescription drug abuse and treatment options today.