Dexedrine Misuse, Side Effects, and Treatment

Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) is a prescription stimulant medication that is sometimes misused as a recreational drug or as a seemingly quick and easy fix to maintain mental alertness or support cognition.1,3 In 2021, 3.7 million people in the U.S., aged 12 and older, reported any prescription stimulant misuse in the past year; of those, 86% (3.2 million) misused  of amphetamine-based medications.2

This page will explain what Dexedrine is, health effects of misuse, and how to find treatment if you or a loved one is struggling with dependence on or addiction to Dexedrine.

What Is Dexedrine and What Is it Used For?

Dexedrine is a brand name for dextroamphetamine sulfate, a prescription stimulant medication.1 Like Adderall, Ritalin, and other prescription stimulants, Dexedrine is used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.1

Dexedrine works by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.4 For people with ADHD, stimulant medications, like Dexedrine, help them to regulate behavior, improve attention, and reduce impulsivity.5

Dexedrine vs Adderall

Dexedrine and Adderall are both brand name prescription stimulants that are commonly prescribed to manage symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.4 While Dexedrine contains only one type of amphetamine salt, dextroamphetamine sulfate, Adderall is a combination of this substance and three other amphetamine salts.4

Dexedrine Side Effects

There are some common side effects associated with Dexedrine use. These include:1

  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Tremors.
  • Headache.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Dizziness.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Weight loss.
  • Dry mouth.

The FDA warns that there is also a risk of developing certain severe cardiovascular or psychiatric side effects from Dexedrine use in those with certain health conditions or a family history of certain health conditions. These conditions include:1

  • Heart-related problems, including high blood pressure and heart defects.
  • Mental problems including psychosis, mania, bipolar disorder, or depression.
  • Tics or Tourette’s syndrome.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Seizures or any EEG abnormalities.
  • Circulation problems in the extremities, including numb, cool, painful, or discolored toes or fingers.

Overdosing on Dexedrine

It is possible to overdose on Dexedrine. Some of the symptoms of Dexedrine or amphetamine overdose include:1

  • Restlessness.
  • Tremor.
  • Hyperreflexia, or overactive body reflexes.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Confusion.
  • Aggression or assaultiveness.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Panic.
  • Hyperpyrexia, or an extremely high fever.
  • Rhabdomyolysis.
  • Severe cardiovascular effects, including arrhythmias, changes in blood pressure, and circulatory collapse.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

Is Dexedrine Addictive?

Dexedrine is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means that it has a known risk of misuse, potentially leading to physiological dependence and addiction1  “Misuse” of a prescription medication can include taking it differently than prescribed (e.g., in larger amounts or more frequently), taking someone else’s prescription, or taking it to get high.4

People taking Dexedrine, particularly at high doses, sometimes report feeling a “rush” or euphoric high.  This is primarily attributed to the increased dopamine activity caused by the drug which is also believed to reinforcing continued drug taking.4

A 2023 study of more than 1,600 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 found that Dexedrine was one of the most commonly misused prescription stimulants, second only to Adderall.7 Further research has indicated that young people might be likely to misuse prescription stimulants because of a belief that they can improve mental performance or academics, experiencing the “high” from taking Dexedrine at higher-than-therapeutic doses, or for perceived weigh loss benefits4,9

Dexedrine Misuse Signs and Symptoms

Misusing Dexedrine and other amphetamines is associated with certain symptoms of amphetamine intoxication. Although rare with oral amphetamine use, these can include:1

  • Skin lesions (dermatoses).
  • Marked insomnia.
  • Irritability.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Social disability and isolation.
  • Psychosis in extreme cases.

While only a qualified healthcare provider can diagnose a stimulant use disorder – the clinical term for addiction to Dexedrine or other stimulants – knowing what the signs are can be useful in getting you or a loved one the help they need. There are 11 criteria that healthcare providers use to diagnose a stimulant use disorder, some of which include: 8

  • The stimulant is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control stimulant use.
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the stimulant, use the stimulant, or recover from its effects.
  • Continued stimulant use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the stimulant.
  • Stimulant use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the stimulant.

Health Effects of Dexedrine Misuse

Misusing prescription stimulants, including Dexedrine, particularly at higher doses, can lead to someone experiencing more severe side effects of Dexedrine and may lead to other serious health consequences, including  potentially fatal severe cardiovascular symptoms (i.e., arrhythmias, heart failure), renal failure, stroke, seizures, and psychosis.9

Dexedrine Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’re physiologically dependent on a prescription stimulant like Dexedrine and abruptly stop using it or cut back dramatically on your use, you may be at risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.4 Some of the symptoms of stimulant withdrawal include:4,8

  • Fatigue.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or hypersomnia).
  • Increased appetite.
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation.

Some people, particularly those likely to experience severe depression following high-dose stimulant use, may benefit from medically supervised detox to manage severe depression that could lead to suicidal ideation and help facilitate your entry into substance use treatment.

Stimulant Use Disorder Treatment

If you or someone you care about is experiencing Dexedrine addiction or may have a stimulant use disorder, help is available. For those located in New England, the following treatment options may be a good fit:

  • Medical detox in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Detox is often the first stage of addiction recovery, consisting of short-term acute treatment (usually 3 to 10 days) intended to help you safely withdraw from Dexedrine under the supervision of a healthcare provider.10
  • Massachusetts inpatient addiction treatment or inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Rhode Island. Inpatient treatment is typically held in a hospital or clinic setting, and participants stay overnight to participate in programs staffed by medical and mental ‘health professionals.10
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP) in New England. IOPs are a combination of group and individual therapy that meets multiple times per week, but participants are only at the facility during the time treatment is occurring and go home at night.10
  • New England outpatient addiction treatment. Outpatient treatment are an effective treatment option for individuals who may not be able to commit to more intensive treatment (e.g., inpatient), and can include either individual or group therapy, meetings, or other forms of care.10
  • Telehealth addiction treatment. If none of these options feel right for you, telehealth treatment is available, too. Many people prefer participating in addiction treatment from their own homes over a safe, secure internet platform.

Don’t hesitate another day. Contact an admissions navigator at AdCare Treatment Centers by calling and get the Dexedrine misuse or addiction help you need today. They can provide information about AdCare locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, explain your insurance coverage for rehab, and help you start admissions into treatment today.




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