Can you mix Adderall and caffeine? This is a worryingly common question we see asked on nootropics forums, as well as on some of our “study drug” articles.
It is understandable why somebody might want to try mixing Adderall and caffeine; they are both stimulants, and they both produce somewhat similar effects which, on paper, may seem complimentary. Importantly, both caffeine and Adderall have distinct mechanisms of action; in combining them, you would not be just taking more of the same, but rather taking advantage of two different pathways to enhanced cognition and more mental energy.
So, is it a good idea to mix Adderall and caffeine?
NO! Combining Adderall and caffeine is extremely dangerous; it will elevated heart rate and blood pressure to a dangerous degree. Caffeine potentiates Adderall, making the effects even stronger.
To explain why it is so dangerous to mix Adderall and caffeine, it’s worth epxlaining how both of these nootropic drugs work.
How caffeine works
Caffeine works by blocking your Adenosine receptors. Adenosine is the body’s sleep/wake switch (the circadian rhythm you’ve all heard of helps time sleep, but it doesn’t control it – adenosine does).
Basically, when you’re awake, adenosine is constantly building up in the brain. When it reaches a certain point, you are forced into sleep, which is when adenosine is “destroyed” and the cycle repeats.
By binding to adenosine receptors, caffeine tricks the body into thinking there is less adenosine than there actually is; this makes you feel alert, awake, and energized.
In some people, caffeine may also have a dopaminergic effect, whereby dopamine is released. Others experience a slight norepinephrine release when they consume enough caffeine in a single sitting. However, it is by binding to adenosine receptors that caffeine really works.
How Adderall works
Adderall works completely differently to caffeine despite the fact that many people see them as essentially the same (but with one significantly more powerful than the other – something else not necessarily true).
Adderall primarily works by stimulating the production of norepinephrine in the brain. Norepinephrine is responsible for triggering your ‘fight of flight’ response to threats, as well as the exciting “adrenaline rush” you get when you do something scary but come out of it fine.
Adderall triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, as though you were facing an imminent threat. As a result, your focus sharpens, your reaction times increase, your ability to take in and process information is dramatically accelerated, and your fatigue essentially disappears. In other words, you become ready to get out of imminent danger.
Taking Adderall and caffeine together
Because caffeine and Adderall have different mechanisms of action, it may seem like a good idea to ‘stack’ them; the idea being that taking them together produces effects stronger than the sum of the parts.
Well, this logic is correct, but it is a very good reason NOT to take Adderall and caffeine together.
Caffeine can be said to heighten or potentiate the effects of Adderall, but a more accurate statement would be that caffeine and Adderall heighten each other’s SIDE EFFECTS.
Both caffeine and Adderall have side effects, some of which overlap. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Elevated heart rate
- Behavior changes
- Stomach cramps
- Elevated risk of heart attack
- Elevated risk of stroke
These side effects are all amplified when you use both caffeine and Adderall together.
This is why it is so important for you not to mix these two nootropic drugs.
The risk of experiencing a dangerously elevated heart rate or a panic attack from either caffeine or Adderall alone is already quite high. But when you mix these two drugs together, even in small doses, the chances of experiencing side effects – and the severity of those side effects – increases almost exponentially.
This is a compounding effect we see with all stimulants, which is why we recommend using a high quality energy supplement that combines a single stimulant – ideally caffeine – with other ingredients known to temper the adverse effects of caffeine while promoting energy metabolism, focus, and motivation.
Can you take Adderall with coffee?
Mixing Adderall and coffee is a slightly different story to mixing Adderall and caffeine.
While coffee certainly does contain a significant amount of caffeine (around 70-120mg per average cup depending on which coffee you use), the caffeine in coffee does not ‘hit’ the same way that purified, supplemental caffeine does; caffeine supplements tend to hit much harder and much faster than the caffeine you get from coffee.
So the dangers are not quite the same when mixing Adderall and coffee as they are when mixing Adderall and pure caffeine.
However, that is not to say that it is completely safe to mix these two extremely powerful drugs. As with all of these things, how safe it is to mix caffeine from coffee with Adderall depends on the amounts being consumed, your tolerance, and your current physical state.
Ingesting a small amount of caffeine from coffee with Adderall is unlikely to be harmful, but mixing these two stimulant drugs is still not a good idea. If you or your child has a prescription for Adderall, it’s best to limit yours or their caffeine intake from coffee.