Adderall and caffeine are both substances that help you to wake up, improve your focus, and feel energized enough to tackle your day. They work exceptionally well for different people for different reasons, so it makes sense to consider adding caffeine to your daily routine.
However, the interaction between Adderall and caffeine can be unpredictable and even potentially unsafe in some cases. Before you grab that cup of coffee or energy drink, consider whether or not you should combine caffeine and Adderall.
How Adderall Works
Adderall is a mixture of amphetamine molecules that work by stimulating the brain and central nervous system to release dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. When you have ADHD, your brain has difficulty regulating these essential neurotransmitters so it struggles to perform effectively, causing symptoms like brain fog, memory issues, and focus problems. The imbalance is also to blame for annoying symptoms like fidgeting, restlessness, and hyperactivity due to the brain seeking stimulation to achieve a chemical balance.
In addition to increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, the stimulation of your nervous system also increases the bioavailability of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine so that your brain has what it needs to function. As a result, Adderall helps to improve focus, lower impulsivity, and regulate your mood to potentially even produce euphoric effects if too high of a dose is taken.
How Caffeine Works
Caffeine is a drug that also works by stimulating the central nervous system to produce more dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine while slowing the rate of dopamine absorption. It has similar effects as Adderall on the body - it increases heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate - but it also impacts your brain in a way that Adderall can’t.
Adenosine is a neuromodulator that slows down neural activity and causes you to feel tired when it binds to the adenosine receptors in your brain. Adenosine slowly builds up on the receptors over the course of your day to tell your brain and body when it’s time to sleep, and then they slowly decrease over the course of the night until you restart the process the next day.
Caffeine is an adenosine receptor antagonist that attaches to the same receptors that adenosine attaches to, blocking your receptors and limiting the amount of adenosine that reaches your brain. With less adenosine buildup, you’re going to feel less tired - and have a harder time sleeping.
So, caffeine doesn’t just stimulate you, it also makes it harder for your brain to regulate your tiredness and return your nervous system to a regulated state.
Is It Okay to Drink Coffee When Taking Adderall?
Coffee is the most consumed beverage worldwide, so knowing whether you can enjoy your favorite caffeinated brew in the morning alongside your life-changing medication is important.
Drinking a single cup of coffee with Adderall usually won’t cause any major side effects - especially if you sip on the same coffee throughout the morning. If you’re caffeine-sensitive, you might experience magnified effects from a single cup when adding Adderall into the mix, depending on the amount of caffeine and Adderall consumed. But, as long as you drink it in moderation (or save coffee for brunch to help space out the activating impacts of both stimulants), you’re unlikely to experience any debilitating symptoms.
If you’re already drinking coffee but are adding Adderall as part of your treatment plan, consider reducing the amount of coffee you drink until you see how Adderall affects you.
Interactions Between Adderall and Caffeine
Adderall and caffeine can both be great for getting your day started - and in theory, their benefits could work well together - but should you take both?
Due to their activating effects, taking both stimulants at the same time could cause an increase in the severity of the side effects that each causes. You might experience increased anxiety due to both drugs increasing cortisol levels in response to an increase in norepinephrine, or suffer from a high heart rate and blood pressure as both drugs work to activate your central nervous system. Sweating, chest pain, restlessness, the inability to sleep, and other uncomfortable effects can also follow overstimulation when recklessly combining Adderall and caffeine.
In terms of stimulation, mixing Adderall and caffeine is likely to feel like taking a higher dose of either drug than you’re used to, but there’s no evidence of caffeine increasing cognitive improvements provided by Adderall to ADHD sufferers. In fact, the diuretic properties of caffeine could actually reduce the effectiveness of your Adderall by encouraging the removal of the drug through frequent urination.
The effects of combining both Adderall and caffeine will be heavily dependent on the dosing of the drugs. Taking high doses of each will cause more serious effects - potentially even life-threatening symptoms like tachycardia or seizures - while lower doses of each and spaced-out dosing will produce fewer side effects. However, you should never change your Adderall dosage without consulting your doctor, so if you want to use both substances, be sure to regulate your caffeine intake and let your doctor know how much you’re consuming.
Achieve Better Results With Effective Dosing by Done
If you suffer from ADHD and feel like you need to supplement your Adderall or other medication with caffeine, your current prescription might not be working well enough.
At Done, our team of board-certified clinicians will work with you to find the right medication and dosing so that you can be your best without additional stimulants. After a brief assessment and meeting with a doctor, you’ll get personalized ongoing care that makes it easy to manage your ADHD. Join today!