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Dexedrine Addiction, Overdose, and Treatment

Dexedrine is a stimulant medication indicated for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.1 Prolonged use or misuse of Dexedrine has the potential to lead to Dexedrine dependence and addiction.1

This article will discuss Dexedrine side effects, signs of Dexedrine addiction, risk of overdose, and types of addiction treatment.

What Is Dexedrine?

Dextroamphetamine sulfate, the generic name for Dexedrine, is a commonly prescribed central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.1 In combination with behavioral therapy, Dexedrine can serve to stabilize distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity in people with ADHD ages 3 and older.1 Adderall is a medication that contains both dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.11

Generic dextroamphetamine comes in the form of immediate-release or sustained-release tablets, extended-release capsules branded as Dexedrine, and in liquid injectable form.2

Dexedrine and other amphetamines are Schedule II controlled substances under the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug schedule because of a high potential for misuse, with use potentially leading to physiological dependence.3 People with a history of drug misuse will generally not be prescribed amphetamines like Dexedrine.1

Effects of Dexedrine Use

Common side effects of amphetamines like Dexedrine include:1

  • Fast heart rate.
  • Tremors.
  • Sleep issues.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Weight loss.
  • Dry mouth.

More serious side effects include slowed growth in children taking Dexedrine, seizures (mostly a risk in those who have a history of seizures), and changes in eyesight or blurry vision.1

It is generally advised that Dexedrine not be taken by anyone with:1

  • Heart disease.
  • Moderate to severe high blood pressure.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Anxiety, or who is tense and agitated.

People with bipolar disorder are generally not prescribed Dexedrine as it could worsen symptoms of mania.1

Is Dexedrine Addictive?

Yes, taking Dexedrine has the potential to result in addiction. Like other drugs with addiction potential, such as fentanyl and cocaine, Dexedrine is considered a Schedule II drug due to the high potential for misuse and use that can result in severe physiological dependence.3

Dexedrine misuse occurs when it is taken in a way other than prescribed, such as being taken recreationally in an effort to get “high.”6 Misuse of prescription stimulants occurs when the drug is taken in a form other than prescribed. This includes crushing the pill or contents of a capsule and taking it orally, smoking or snorting the powder, or dissolving it in water and injecting it into the vein.6

Misuse of a prescription stimulant in this manner or at high doses can significantly increase the activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. This can cause a “rush” of euphoria that reinforces repeated use and quicken the development of tolerance and dependence. It also puts a person at risk of developing an addiction.6

In 2021, 3.2 million people aged 12 and older misused stimulants like Dexedrine and other prescribed amphetamines.7

Signs of Dexedrine Addiction

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, 5th Edition (DSM-5), an addiction to prescription stimulants like Dexedrine is classified as a stimulant use disorder.8 Medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or other qualified mental health clinicians diagnose a stimulant use disorder when 2 or more of the 11 criteria from the DSM-5 are met over a 12-month period. Some of the criteria include:8

  • Taking the stimulant in larger amounts and for longer than intended.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit using stimulants or cut down on use.
  • Significant time spent engaged in activities to get stimulants, use them, and/or recover from stimulant use.
  • A strong desire to use the stimulant.
  • Repeated stimulant use that ends up in failure to fulfill major obligations at work, home, or school.
  • Continuing to use the stimulant despite negative consequences.
  • Important hobbies or activities are reduced or given up because of stimulant use.
  • Repeated stimulant use in hazardous or unsafe situations.
  • Continued use of stimulants when they know they have physical and/or psychological problems that may be exacerbated or caused by stimulants.
  • Experiencing tolerance by needing to take more of the stimulant to get the desired effect, or not feeling the same effects when using the same amount of stimulants.
  • Experiencing withdrawal and/or taking the stimulant to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

People who think they meet the criteria for a stimulant use disorder may benefit from seeking advice from their doctor or an addiction treatment professional.

Dexedrine Overdose

An overdose occurs when a person takes more of a substance than the body can process effectively and safely, leading to a life-threatening reaction.6 If someone is experiencing a drug overdose, call
9-1-1 immediately.

Response to amphetamines varies widely from person to person, so any amount may contribute to symptoms of overdose.1

Some signs of prescription stimulant overdose include:16

  • Tremor.
  • Restlessness.
  • Confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Panic.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • High body temperature/fever.
  • Muscle pains and weakness.

Overdosing on a stimulant often leads to cardiovascular or heart problems. These can include:

  • An irregular heartbeat leading to a heart attack.
  • Nerve problems that can lead to a seizure.
  • Intense stomach issues including cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

These all necessitate immediate medical attention.6 Medical professionals can attempt to restore blood flow to the heart or stop the seizure under a physician’s guidance.6

Dexedrine Addiction Treatment

There are several approaches to treating a stimulant use disorder that depends on each person’s needs and the severity of the addiction. A person may require detox under the supervision of medical professionals to help manage symptoms of withdrawal more comfortably.

Prescription stimulant withdrawal symptoms may include:6

  • Vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Sleep troubles.
  • Appetite changes.

The level of care recommended for a person needing addiction treatment depends on:10

  • Their willingness to engage in treatment.
  • Their need for detox.
  • Preexisting medical conditions or co-occurring mental health conditions.
  • Relapse potential.
  • The level of recovery support in their living environment.

Each of these areas is typically accounted for in an individualized treatment plan.10 Treatment settings may include, dexedrine detox, inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment may include living independently at home or in pre-arranged recovery housing. Treatment interventions in both inpatient and outpatient settings may include individual and/or group therapy, medication management, and aftercare planning to help with relapse prevention.10

If you or a loved one is struggling with Dexedrine addiction or any other type of substance use disorder, treatment is available. Getting help is a brave step toward recovery. If in need of support, contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) at to learn more about treatment options and if your insurance will help cover the cost of treatment. We’re ready to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so you can start healing today.

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