Dexedrine Misuse, Side Effects, and Treatment

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a startling 3.7 million Americans ages 12 and older misused prescription stimulants in 2021.1 These medications were most frequently misused by individuals ages 18 to 25 than any other age group within that same year.1

Dexedrine, a brand name for dextroamphetamine, is a commonly prescribed stimulant medication that is often misused.2,3  When used as prescribed, however, Dexedrine can help those experiencing specific neurological conditions ease their symptoms.2

In this article, we will discuss the approved therapeutic uses for Dexedrine and its potential side effects, as well as the risks that this prescription stimulant can potentially cause for someone who is misusing it.

What is Dexedrine Used For?

Dexedrine is FDA approved to treat both attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.3 When used as directed, Dexedrine can be highly effective in managing symptoms associated with these conditions, including hyperactivity and impulsiveness in ADHD and excessive daytime sleepiness in narcolepsy.3,4 Though their precise therapeutic mechanism isn’t entirely understood, psychostimulant drugs like Dexedrine increase the activity of two neurotransmitters—dopamine and norepinephrine— in ways believed to influence their potentially rewarding effects in addition to several physiological effects, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate .2

Dexedrine Side Effects

Dexedrine may have some side effects, many of which are mild. However, more serious effects have been reported and may be more likely to occur with misuse. Some of the more common side effects associated with Dexedrine use can include:3

  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Dizziness.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Tremors.

The misuse of Dexedrine can increase the likelihood of more serious adverse effects developing, including:3,5

  • Behavioral changes (e.g., aggression and hostility).
  • Psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
  • Increased stroke and heart attack risk.
  • Increased seizure risk.
  • Addiction.

Dexedrine Misuse

Dexedrine is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has high risk for misuse.6 Prescription drug misuse can involve:2

  • Taking medication in a manner or dose that is not reflective of how it was prescribed.
  • Taking medication that was prescribed for someone else.
  • Taking medication only to achieve the desired effects (i.e., getting high).

Prescription stimulant misuse is not uncommon, as these medications are sometimes misused by college students attempting to increase their academic performance and/or for recreational purposes.2,5 Past estimates have indicated that as many as 20% of college students misuse prescription stimulants like Dexedrine, most frequently by taking someone else’s prescription.5 Additionally, prescription stimulant misuse may also occur in older individuals who are looking to improve memory.2

Misusing a substance and being addicted to it are not the same, however, the continued misuse of a prescription stimulant like Dexedrine can increase the risk of eventual addiction development.1

Dexedrine Addiction

Addiction develops as a person begins to no longer have control over continued misuse of a substance despite experiencing negative consequences as a result of that misuse.7 Known diagnostically as a stimulant use disorder, the compulsive patterns of stimulant use associated with Dexedrine addiction can lead to serious physical and mental health issues, some of which can be potentially fatal.3,8

As outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), there are 11 diagnostic criteria that professionals use to evaluate someone for potentially having a stimulant use disorder.8 In order to receive this diagnosis, a person must have exhibited or experienced 2 of these 11 criteria within a 12-month period. These criteria can include, but are not limited to, the following:8

  • Taking a larger dose of the substance, or using it for a longer period of time than originally intended
  • Repeatedly trying but being unsuccessful at cutting back or quitting use
  • Cravings or powerful urges to use the substance
  • Continuing to use the substance despite knowing that it has caused or worsened a physical or mental health problem

Only a healthcare provider can diagnose Dexedrine addiction. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms or are concerned that you may be addicted to a substance like Dexedrine, reach out to your doctor or another treatment provider to obtain a professional assessment.

Health Effects and Risks of Dexedrine

The misuse of Dexedrine can increase the risk of several adverse health effects, such as those previously mentioned. Dexedrine misuse can also result in amphetamine overdose toxicity, which can be fatal. The signs and symptoms of a Dexedrine overdose can include:3

  • Panic.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Dangerously elevated body temperatures.
  • Rhabdomyolysis (muscle tissue breakdown).
  • Cardiovascular problems including arrhythmias, unstable blood pressure, and circulatory collapse.
  • Serotonin syndrome (characterized by symptoms including high heart rate, seizures, tremors, and delirium).
  • Hyperreflexia.
  • Seizures and convulsions.
  • Loss of consciousness /coma.

Dexedrine Withdrawal

It is possible for a person who is misusing Dexedrine to become dependent on it.3 The term “dependence” refers to the physiological adaptations that develop as a result of continued substance misuse that may ultimately trigger certain withdrawal symptoms when the use of the substance ceases entirely.7 Someone who is significantly dependent on Dexedrine can experience withdrawal if they drastically reduce the amount of Dexedrine they normally consume or if they stop use altogether.3

Symptoms reported in association with Dexedrine withdrawal include extreme fatigue and depression.3 As a general class of drugs, other stimulant withdrawal symptoms may include:9

  • Irritability.
  • Changes in sleep patterns (hypersomnia or insomnia).
  • Slowed mental and physical activity.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Drug craving.

Withdrawal from stimulants like Dexedrine does not typically present medical dangers, meaning professional detox services may not always be necessary.9 However, it can still be beneficial to engage in a professional treatment program to address any complications that arise and to facilitate additional, more comprehensive rehabilitation beyond the early withdrawal period.9 If you or a loved one are concerned about Dexedrine withdrawal or addiction, professional treatment can help.

Dexedrine Addiction Treatment

If you are struggling with Dexedrine misuse, Laguna Treatment Hospital offers addiction treatment that can help you to overcome active addiction. Our Orange County rehab center offers various levels of care, including medical detox and residential treatment.

For more information about how to start addiction treatment, contact one of Laguna Treatment Hospital’s admissions navigators for a free, private phone consultation today. They can answer your questions about paying for rehab with health insurance, explore different rehab payment options, and find out which treatment option is right for you.

Get started right now and have your insurance verified with us by filling out our secure online .

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