Mixing Adderall And Ativan: Dangers And Side Effects

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 31, 2023

Because Ativan and Adderall have opposite effects, mixing them can reduce the effects of both, leading people to take more of the drugs. This can result in a life-threatening overdose or other serious health problems.

Dangers Of Mixing Adderall And Ativan

Adderall and Ativan are prescription medications prescribed for ADHD or anxiety respectively.

Ativan slows the central nervous system response to stress people, reducing anxiety. Adderall speeds it up, but in those who have ADD or ADHD, it has more of a calming effect that allows them to focus.

Unfortunately, some people mix these drugs together as a form of abuse. Mixing drugs is a way for people to extend the high they feel or mitigate negative side effects.

Is It Safe To Mix Adderall And Ativan?

Any abuse of prescription drugs is unsafe.

Adderall and Ativan create opposing effects in the body, mixing them can mute side effects of the drugs within the body.

This means a person may take more of either or both drugs before the first dose has worn off, which can cause a buildup of the drugs in a person’s system, increasing the risk of overdose.

The other concern is the method of abuse, such as crushing and snorting the pills instead of ingesting them orally.

Medication is meant to take effect slowly over time will produce effects on the body more quickly than taking it as prescribed.

How Adderall And Ativan Work

Ativan is classified as a benzodiazepine, anticonvulsant, and antiemetic.

It is prescribed mainly to people who have insomnia or an anxiety disorder because it has a sedative effect on the body’s central nervous system.

Adderall is an amphetamine, which works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine.

Adderall causes neurotypical people to feel energetic, anxious, and aggressive, but Adderall actually has a calming effect on someone with ADD or ADHD, allowing them to function with more ease.

Reasons People Mix Prescription Drugs

People abuse multiple prescription drugs at the same time for several reasons.

Some people engage in polysubstance abuse to extend or intensify the high or feeling of euphoria they get from one of the substances they are taking.

Others believe that taking one drug will mitigate the negative side effects of the other.

For example, amphetamines, like Adderall, can cause a person to feel tense and anxious. They might take benzodiazepines, like Ativan, with amphetamines because they believe this counteract the anxiety.

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Side Effects Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is an amphetamine, so it is classified as a stimulant. When Adderall is used as directed, it helps people with attention disorders concentrate.

When abused, it excites the central nervous system, causing a high.

Adderall abuse can cause the following adverse side effects:

  • hallucinations
  • mania
  • high blood pressure
  • tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • aggression
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • paranoia
  • hostility

Side Effects Of Ativan Abuse

In contrast, Ativan (a benzodiazepine) works to depress or slow the central nervous system. Use of benzodiazepines can lead to physical dependence and psychological addiction.

Ativan abuse also causes severe side effects, such as:

  • trouble urinating
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • bradycardia (slowed heart rate)
  • tremors
  • shuffling when trying to walk
  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • kidney failure
  • memory loss
  • internal bleeding
  • confusion
  • seizures

Dangers Of Mixing Adderall And Ativan

One of the most common misconceptions about mixing Adderall and Ativan is that the opposing effects of the drugs will cancel each other out. This is far from the truth.

Adderall and Ativan only mask each other’s side effects, giving the illusion of cancellation. This increases the risk of overdose because people don’t feel the symptoms that tell them they’ve taken too much.

Another danger of mixing Adderall and Ativan is that the medications have a long half-life in the body. Ativan stays in the body for about 12 hours. Adderall wears off in about 14 hours.

When the medications are taken together, the heart, lungs, and brain stay stressed for nearly half a day, as they get pushed and pulled in two different directions.

Developing Addiction And Dependence

Both Adderall and Ativan are potentially addictive. One of the most dangerous parts of taking either medication is that they can cause physical dependence very quickly.

Physical dependence occurs when someone’s body becomes so used to having a drug present that it begins to adapt all of its important systemic responses to adjust to the changes.

Neurochemicals in the brain and functioning of the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing are all altered accordingly.

When someone tries to stop taking the medication, this causes severe withdrawal symptoms until their body is able to reestablish normal operations again.

Increased Risk Of Overdose

There is an increased risk of suffering from an overdose when Adderall and Ativan are combined because a person might attempt to take extra medications to try to balance themselves out.

For example, since benzodiazepines cause severe fatigue, more Adderall might be used to increase energy. If someone is feeling anxious and having trouble sleeping from too much Adderall, they might take more benzodiazepines.

Unfortunately, an overdose to this particular combination isn’t easy to treat because no medications can be given to treat the overdose until the effects of both medications have worn off.

Sometimes, doctors can try to remove the extra pills by pumping out the contents of a person’s stomach. This is only beneficial if the pills haven’t dissolved yet.

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This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 31, 2023
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