Caffeine is a habitually used stimulant—your morning coffee makes it the most frequently consumed drug in the world. Likewise, prescription stimulants such as Adderall are now widely used and abused.
Meant for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, Adderall is often taken by college students as a study aid. Mixing Adderall and caffeine is commonplace for an extra kick.
Many people perceive caffeine and Adderall as harmless, and in small amounts, side effects may be mild, but both stimulants do have risks. We aim to bring you facts about mixing Adderall with caffeine, and suggest alternatives if you just can’t wake up without them.
Key Takeaways: Adderall and Caffeine
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a stimulant medication that contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. In recommended doses, it can enhance focus and learning ability. For that reason, Adderall is used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is known to muddle concentration.
What is the most common treatment of ADHD in children?
Adderall vs. Caffeine: How Do They Work?
Amphetamines like Adderall stimulate the central nervous system and cardiovascular system—so does caffeine.
The stimulant drugs activate neurotransmitters in the brain, releasing the hormones norepinephrine and dopamine. These hormones give you a feeling of wakefulness and focus—they also spur the heart, making it work harder.
However, the drugs differ significantly, too. Adderall is a pharmaceutical drug and potent medication. As such, drinking coffee is less likely to lead to severe side effects or substance abuse.
Adderall’s Effects on the Body
Adderall has a powerful effect on the cardiovascular system, causing elevated blood pressure and a raised heart rate. This may make you experience heart palpitations, and in the long run, can increase the risk of heart disease.
These effects, combined with Adderall’s high potential for addiction, mean it’s important for you to recognize the signs of Adderall abuse.
Effects of Caffeine
Similar to Adderall, caffeine influences brain activity that raises blood pressure and increases heart rate. In high doses, such as those found in energy drinks and caffeine pills, the side effects can be serious. The FDA regulated the sale of energy drinks in 2018 to protect consumers from dangerously high levels of caffeine .
Side Effects of Mixing Adderall and Caffeine
The negative effects of both caffeine and Adderall are:
- Unhealthy sleep patterns.
- Heart health.
- High blood pressure.
- Dependence and withdrawal.
Both stimulants share similar adverse effects, but those felt from a simple cup of coffee are usually less severe.
Most people feel jittery when they drink too much coffee. That’s because it raises levels of cortisol and norepinephrine in the brain, which are stress hormones . The chemicals are known to spark our so-called fight or flight responses—a natural reaction to perceived threat and danger.
Because they artificially cause this powerful bodily response, the combination of caffeine and Adderall can cause panic attacks, too.
Unhealthy Sleep Patterns
All stimulants promote a feeling of alertness. Because of this, Adderall’s most common side effect in children is sleep disturbance .
Caffeine stops a brain chemical called adenosine that would usually be released when you are ready to sleep. When taken together, caffeine and amphetamine increase the likelihood of unhealthy sleep patterns and insomnia.
High Blood Pressure
Due to Adderall’s strong cardiovascular effect, anyone with elevated blood pressure or on blood pressure medication is unlikely to be prescribed the drug, as it can be dangerous.
For tea and coffee drinkers taking Adderall, it might benefit you to monitor blood pressure and caffeine consumption; caffeine is known to temporarily increase blood pressure.
Long-term substance abuse can have a detrimental impact on heart health. A high caffeine intake could also overwhelm the heart, and that’s more likely if taken in combination with amphetamine.
Dependence and Withdrawal
Both caffeine and Adderall are habit-forming, and if used often enough, will cause withdrawal. Common withdrawal symptoms of caffeine include:
- Upset stomach.
Adderall abuse is when the drug is used at higher than the prescribed dosage and for different reasons than doctors recommend.
Those abusing the prescription drug are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, which include:
- Intense craving for the drug.
- Mood swings, irritability, or aggression.
- Sleep problems and insomnia.
If you or someone you know is addicted to Adderall, you may require support from a professional treatment center.
Do Adderall and Caffeine Interact?
Yes. There is an interaction because the effects of each drug are enhanced, or made stronger, by one another.
Does Caffeine Affect ADHD Medication?
Taking prescription medications that are meant to treat ADHD with a great amount of caffeine can make the unpleasant side effects of the stimulant drugs more severe.
Best Adderall and Caffeine Alternatives: Nootropics
Whether you’re concerned about tapering off ADHD medication without a reliable backup, or you simply can’t kick your coffee habit, there is a range of herbal alternatives available that could help.
Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro is an expertly blended nootropic stack with ingredients that sharpen up memory, focus, and reaction times, lift mood, and help with concentration. The herbal supplement nourishes the brain as opposed to overstimulating it.
If you want to find out more, you can check out our Mind Lab Pro review.
Performance Lab Nootropics
The Performance Lab blend contains a focused mix of vitamins and medicinal herbs. It contains compounds that put your brain in a state more conducive to learning. Free from caffeine or other stimulants, you can take it with as much coffee as you would like.
For more on this, take a look at our Performance Lab Nootropics review.
Adderall and Caffeine vs Nootropics
Nootropics are brain-stimulating compounds too, but different from prescription medications and less likely to lend themselves to drug abuse. Nootropics for motivation are designed to help with focus and most of them are caffeine-free.
Below are some of your most commonly asked questions about caffeine and Adderall.
Does Coffee Have the Same Effect as Adderall?
The physiological effects are similar, but Adderall is a much more potent drug.
At levels found in coffee beans and tea leaves and in recommended amounts (less than four small cups per day according to the FDA), caffeine has a much less powerful effect than Adderall .
How Dangerous Is Adderall and Caffeine?
It depends on your dosage and how you consume your caffeine.
For instance, if you were to take a big dose of Adderall then consume a strong energy drink half an hour later, you’d be increasing the risk to your body due to the high levels of stimulants.
Does Adderall and Caffeine Cause Heart Attack?
Yes, especially if you have an existing cardiac weakness or you take too much of both drugs at the same time.
Does Caffeine Make Adderall Stronger?
Yes, it can. While there are possible short-term benefits to this, there are also potentially dangerous side effects.
Which Is Better, Caffeine or Adderall?
Caffeine and Adderall are two substances that could impact your life for the better or worse, depending on how you use them. Overall, caffeine is more universal and safe.
If you feel like coffee just isn’t cutting it anymore, you can try out nootropics for a cognitive boost without all the risks.
Caffeine is taken for granted as a way of helping people function and get to work on time. But when mixed with other stimulants, including ADHD medications, it could lead to a range of unwanted adverse effects.
Trying out a nootropic like Performance Lab Mind or Mind Lab Pro could be a sustainable solution that promotes long-term health.
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- Lovallo, William R, et al. “Cortisol Responses to Mental Stress, Exercise, and Meals Following Caffeine Intake in Men and Women.” Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2249754/.
- Stein, Mark A, et al. “Adhd Treatments, Sleep, and Sleep Problems: Complex Associations.” Neurotherapeutics : the Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Springer-Verlag, July 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441938/.
- Commissioner, Office of the. “Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much#:~:text=For%20healthy%20adults%2C%20the%20FDA,associated%20with%20dangerous%2C%20negative%20effects.