Dexedrine is a powerful drug with a high potential for addiction. Because of its effects, it became popular to abuse, especially for students and employees who believed it could enhance their performance at school or work. In fact, stimulants like Dexedrine are now the second most–abused drugs among college students, after marijuana.1,2 According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 6.2% of admissions to treatment facilities in 2010 were due to stimulants such as Dexedrine.3
What Is It and Why Is It Misused?
The generic name for the drug commercially available as Dexedrine is dextroamphetamine, which is a central nervous system stimulant that has been used therapeutically for children and adults to control narcolepsy or symptoms related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as difficulty focusing or staying still. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels dextroamphetamine as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse.3
The stimulant effects Dexedrine elicits make it a commonly misused drug. College students reportedly use it non-medically to increase their focus and attention and to stay awake for long periods of time, such as for pulling an all-nighter to cram for a test. Some people who abuse Dexedrine have a prescription for the medication but misuse it by taking more of the drug than they were instructed to. Other times, people sell pills to friends or family that they were prescribed, who then take them illegally to enhance school or work performance. Still others take Dexedrine simply to get high.4
As with any stimulant, when taken as prescribed by people who have a legitimate need for it, Dexedrine has useful benefits. However when abused, especially in the long-term, it can result in several harmful health effects such as seizures, psychosis, and heart problems.1
Other potential side effects include:2,5
- Restlessness or nervousness.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Loss of appetite.
- Stomach pain or diarrhea.
- Weight loss.
- Dry mouth.
Some of the more severe side effects associated with Dexedrine misuse could indicate the need for immediate medical attention, including:2.5
- Racing pulse or heart palpitations.
- Abnormal movements.
- Weakness in arms or legs.
- Changes in vision.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pains.
- Psychotic features such as paranoia and hallucinations.
- Hostility or aggression.
Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal
Physical tolerance can develop as the body becomes accustomed to a particular drug over time. When you build up a tolerance, your body doesn’t respond the same way it used to when you first took the drug and you need more and more of the drug to produce the original desired effect.6 As tolerance builds and people consume greater amounts of the drug to achieve a high, the risk of developing amphetamine dependence increases. Increasingly large doses and more frequent use also increases the likelihood of overdose. People who develop significant physiological dependence may experience what’s known as an acute stimulant withdrawal syndrome.
While stimulant withdrawal is seldom accompanied by severe physical symptoms, it may result in some adverse effects, including:5,7
- Extreme fatigue.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Increased appetite.
These symptoms can last from anywhere to a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the person’s addiction.7
The Detoxification Process
Detoxification is the process by which the body clears itself of drugs. If you have been abusing Dexedrine for some time and think you need help withdrawing from it, you may benefit from the services of a supervised detox program. Stimulant withdrawal is rarely associated with medical dangers or severe discomfort, however some people may be at risk of developing a pronounced dysphoria that, when severe enough, could be accompanied by suicidality.7 Supervised detox programs are perfectly suited to closely monitor individuals at risk for or already experiencing such developments. While there are no specific medications to taper someone off Dexedrine, doctors may prescribe certain supportive medications, such as sleep aids and analgesics for headaches and other uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Detox usually lasts around 1–3 days and is only meant to help you physically withdraw from Dexedrine but is not considered full addiction treatment. An addiction to Dexedrine has underlying causes, so if you only go through a physical detox program without addressing these reasons in an ongoing treatment program, you could be more likely to relapse when you encounter the triggers to use in your everyday life.7
What Treatment Entails
Dexedrine addiction treatment is delivered in a wide variety of settings using an array of approaches. Treatment may occur in inpatient facilities, outpatient facilities, or residential settings. Substance abuse treatment is often delivered by a multidisciplinary team comprised of physicians, nurses, counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers. Just as treatment settings vary, so do the types of interventions, services, and amenities provided.
Dexedrine rehab focuses on recovery and learning new patterns of behavior. Often, a combination of individual and group behavioral therapy will be provided, both of which focus on accomplishing set goals, developing coping skills, and building strategies to reduce the risk of relapse. Your primary counselor is usually responsible for making referrals to other agencies based upon individual needs.8 A person may also be encouraged to attend structured support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Choosing the Best Option
Many factors should be taken into consideration when searching for the right Dexedrine treatment center, including time, cost, location, accessibility, health insurance coverage, services offered, treatment duration, and the philosophy of the program. It is important to remember that studies have shown that the longer people are in treatment, the greater the chances of recovery and the less likely they are to relapse.8
Addiction is a serious disease that often goes untreated. According to research, in 2015, only 10.8% of the more than 21 million people aged 12 or older who needed treatment for a substance abuse problem got the help they needed.9 If you are one of the people who needs help, don’t suffer alone—find the right treatment today.
- Lakhan, S. E. & Kirchgessner, A. (2012). Prescription Stimulants in Individuals with and Without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Misuse, Cognitive Impact, and Adverse Effects. Brain and Behavior, 2(5), 661–677.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Dextroamphetamine.
- Substance Abuse Mental Health and Services Administration. (2012). Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS): 2000-2010. National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Drug Facts: Prescription Stimulants.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2017). Dexedrine.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2007). The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction: Definition of Tolerance.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Services: Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal from Specific Substances.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment.
- Lipari, R. N., Park-Lee, E., & Van Horn, S. (2016). America’s Need for and Receipt of Substance Use Treatment in 2015.