Dexedrine Misuse and Addiction
Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) is a type of prescription stimulant—a medication class with a known potential for abuse. In 2021, an estimated 3.7 million Americans ages 12 and older misused prescription stimulants.1
Read on to learn more about the risks of Dexedrine misuse, signs of Dexedrine addiction, and how to get help if you or someone you love has lost control of their prescription stimulant use.
What Is Dexedrine?
Dexedrine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medicine prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the sleep disorder narcolepsy.2
People with ADHD who take Dexedrine may feel increased focus, alertness, and energy, as well as decreased impulsiveness and hyperactivity.2,3
However, prescription stimulants like Dexedrine are widely diverted and misused in ways other than how they are prescribed.2,4
Non-medical use of prescription stimulants is especially common among teens and young adults aged 18–25, who abuse these medications at higher rates than other prescription drugs and often use them as “study” drugs.5
Adults may also misuse prescription stimulant medications such as Dexedrine for a variety of different reasons, including to lose weight and stay awake. Some elderly individuals may misuse these medications to improve their memory.6
Is Dexedrine an Amphetamine?
Yes, Dexedrine is an amphetamine and brand-name version of the generic drug, dextroamphetamine.2
Dexedrine Side Effects
People who misuse Dexedrine may experience unwanted, adverse side effects. Common side effects of Dexedrine include:2
- Fast heartbeat.
- Decreased appetite.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Upset stomach.
- Weight loss.
- Dry mouth.
Misuse of prescription stimulants like Dexedrine at high doses can increase the risk of potentially serious effects, such as:2,3
- Dangerously high body temperature.
- Heart attack.
Research indicates that people who misuse prescription stimulants via non-oral routes (e.g., snorting or injecting) often do so for recreational purposes and are more likely to experience adverse health effects.5
It is possible to overdose on amphetamines or prescription stimulants like Dexedrine, especially when taken in high doses. Signs of a stimulant overdose include:2
- Tremors and convulsions.
- Rapid breathing.
- Panic states.
- High fever.
- Severe muscle pain and weakness.
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Prescription stimulants that have been diverted or purchased on the street may also contain potentially harmful—or even lethal—substances like fentanyl. In this case, an overdose could be caused by someone accidentally taking a toxic amount of a potent synthetic opioid or other drug.7
An overdose is a medical emergency. If you think you or someone else is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.
Other Risks of Dexedrine Misuse
Dexedrine misuse can pose other risks to a person’s health and well-being. These risks include changes to a person’s thoughts and behaviors, such as increased anger and aggression.2,3
In rare cases, prolonged or chronic misuse of prescription stimulants like Dexedrine can cause symptoms of psychosis that are similar to symptoms of schizophrenia.2,3,5
Dexedrine may also worsen pre-existing bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental health conditions.2
Additionally, prescription stimulants like Dexedrine do have the potential for addiction. Long-term misuse could ultimately lead to a substance use disorder or Dexedrine addiction.3
Research also shows that people who misuse prescription stimulants through non-oral routes are more likely to develop substance use disorders.5
A Dexedrine addiction occurs when a person continues to misuse the drug despite its negative effects on their life.
Of the 3.7 million people who misused prescription stimulants in 2021, 1.5 million (or 40%) met the criteria for a prescription stimulant use disorder.1
Signs of a Dexedrine Addiction
Medical professionals use criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose a Dexedrine addiction, or what’s clinically known as a stimulant use disorder. This criteria includes certain warning signs that could indicate someone’s drug use has become problematic, such as:9
- Taking a stimulant more often or in higher doses than recommended.
- Failing to quit or cut down on stimulant use.
- Spending lots of time seeking and using stimulants at the expense of other activities and responsibilities.
- Craving stimulants.
- Needing to take more and more of the drug to feel its effects (i.e., tolerance).
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when abstaining from stimulant use.
Dexedrine (Dextroamphetamine) Withdrawal
Dexedrine withdrawal results from physical dependence. Dependence is the body’s physiological adaptation to a substance, wherein the body becomes so used to the drug being present in the system that when the individual cuts back on their use or quits, withdrawal symptoms emerge.2,10
Someone who uses Dexedrine regularly at high doses may experience withdrawal if they suddenly stop or reduce their use of the drug. Symptoms of Dexedrine withdrawal can include:2
- Extreme fatigue.
- Sleep changes or problems.
Generally speaking, withdrawal from prescription stimulants is less physically distressing and medically intensive than the withdrawal syndromes associated with opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol.11
Dexedrine Addiction Treatment
Addiction is a complex and chronic condition, but it is treatable. Treatment for addiction to prescription stimulants like Dexedrine typically encompasses a combination of behavioral therapies.12,13
For example, contingency management (CM) is an evidence-based approach shown to be effective in the treatment of stimulant addiction. CM gives rewards—vouchers and even cash—to patients who meet certain treatment goals, such as staying drug-free. Alternatively, these rewards are withheld if a patient fails to meet their goals.3,13
CM is the one approach that has shown the most promise in treating stimulant use disorders.13
Additionally, some limited research suggests that alternative activities like physical exercise and meditation can be helpful in managing stimulant addiction and may lead to better treatment outcomes.13
There are currently no medications approved to treat stimulant addiction or stimulant withdrawal.13
Getting Help at Sunrise House
At Sunrise House, we offer different types of addiction treatment and personalized treatment plans designed to meet the individual needs of each patient. Our inpatient rehab in New Jersey also specializes in the treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders for patients who may be battling more than one condition at the same time.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone and the path to recovery is waiting for you at Sunrise House.
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