Dexedrine Addiction and Treatment

Dexedrine Addiction and Treatment

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Dexedrine addiction and treatment

Dexedrine is an amphetamine-based drug that is sometimes prescribed for conditions like attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorders, like narcolepsy. The drug works by promoting the creation of dopamine as well as inhibiting its removal from the body, so it is effective for any condition caused by low natural dopamine levels1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3666194/. The drug is sometimes known by its generic name, dextroamphetamine, and is one of the stronger amphetamine-based drugs.

As a strong amphetamine, Dexedrine can, and is, abused and can be highly addictive. The potential for misuse and addiction is increased by the relative ease with which it can be obtained; although alternatives like Adderall and Ritalin tend to be prescribed first, Dexedrine is still offered when other treatments are ineffective2https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12954-021-00500-9. Like any prescription drug, when used correctly it can have positive effects for the patient, but abuse and addiction are potentially dangerous.

What is Dexedrine misuse?

Abuse or misuse is, technically, the use of any drug outside its medically directed purpose. A patient with a valid prescription, therefore, is technically abusing the drug if they were to take extra medication, even if they felt it was medically needed, that was not directed by their doctor. Most abuse of Dexedrine tends to be motivated either by a desire to enhance performance, or as a recreational drug.

Dexedrine, along with other amphetamines, are commonly taken under the belief that they will enhance cognitive ability. Studies attempting to demonstrate this effect have had mixed results, with some concluding that they may actually harm performance, and some finding that they can produce a modest, but measurable, improvement3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842881/. Regardless of the research, the belief remains persistent. Some surveys have suggested that as many as one-tenth of high school students have used an amphetamine-based stimulant in the hope of better grades. Self-reported surveys of college-level students suggests that as many as a third have used amphetamines in the hope of boosting their academic performance.

Amphetamines are also abused to improve athletic performance. Dexedrine will increase strength and reaction times, while also allowing athletes to continue to perform beyond the usual limits of their stamina. Although amphetamine use is banned in competitions, some athletes will take a risk, or use amphetamines to increase the effectiveness of their training when away from a testing regime.

Finally, Dexedrine is abused recreationally. Dopamine is associated with pleasure, so drugs that increase the levels of dopamine in the system will create positive sensations for the user. The drug can produce feelings of euphoria and act as an aphrodisiac. Because amphetamines can also leave users feeling more alert and energetic, they have also become associated with club culture.

What is Dexedrine addiction?

Because of the way they affect the brain chemistry, amphetamines, especially powerful ones like Dexedrine, can be highly addictive.

Dopamine is produced naturally by the body, and while levels will rise and fall naturally, Dexedrine will artificially elevate those levels for people whose levels are low. This creates the desirable effect that those who take the drug recreationally seek, but those who abuse the drug for other reasons will experience too. This sense of pleasure and euphoria can create what is known as a motivational salience, essentially a cognitive effect that drives the individual to repeat that behavior.

However, as well as being motivated to repeat the drug-taking behavior, the body will also respond by reducing dopamine production to regulate levels. This will result in a dependency, in which the drug becomes required for normal operation, and, as the tolerance of the drug increases, so does the need for higher doses.

What are the signs of abuse and addiction?

Just as the side effects of a drug in an individual cannot be predicted, the signs of abuse will vary from person to person. However, there are many common symptoms. Mild symptoms will include dry mouth, headaches, and loss of appetite. Prolonged abuse might result in weight loss, insomnia, and circulatory problems, such as increased blood pressure and even chest pain. More severe abuse and addiction can result in mental health problems, such as increased anxiety, but can cause mood swings and behavior changes, hallucinations and psychosis.

And, like any addiction, those with a problem will find it hard to stop, and need to take bigger and bigger doses for the same effect. They will also have experience a negative impact on normal life, such as giving up on other social activities, relationship problems with others and adopting behaviors to hide their drug use.

Dexedrine Street Name

More commonly known by it’s street names (Black Beauty, uppers, and speed), early warning signs of addiction include irritability and nausea and Dexedrine is highly addictive and can cause considerable physical, psychological, and social damage. Once addicted, users can develop heart complications, hallucinations, and paranoia. A strong tolerance to the drug develops quickly, forcing the user to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects.

Dexedrine works by allowing the release of hormones that increase alertness and energy. This make it extremely effective in reducing restlessness and increasing a person’s ability to concentrate, and also increases attention span. Even though Dexedrine should be obtained legally though a prescription from a health care provider, it can be found on the black market because of its high-street value. Dexedrine is available in release tablets with the strengths of 5, 10 and 15 mg. (Philippa Gold, Physis Recovery)

How is Dexedrine abuse treated?

The first step is to acknowledge a problem and discuss it with a medical professional, they will be the best placed to advise on effective treatment. When the addiction is mild, it might be possible to manage in an outpatient environment. However, for any drug addiction, inpatient treatment is usually considered the best option.

The first stage of addiction treatment is always detoxification, usually known as detox. This is the natural process during which the body will rid itself of toxins, such as amphetamines. It usually takes about a week for the body to rid itself of all traces of a drug. During this period, an addict can experience severe withdrawal and cravings. Additionally, they will have to manage the effects caused by their body’s adaptation to the drug, such as abnormally low dopamine levels. Inpatient treatment does not just mean they are in a clean environment, reducing the risk of relapse or developing a substitute addiction, but also means that help is constantly available.

Rehabilitation will start alongside detox, and will begin the transition to living a drug-free life. This will include therapy, where the addict can explore the reasons behind their addiction, as well as developing strategies to prevent relapse. It is also likely to include group work, such as a twelve-step group that will become an ongoing support.

Finally, the addict will be ready to begin recovery. This will be adapted to meet individual needs, and will make the transition from inpatient treatment to normal life. Recovery is a life-long stage, for which the addict has been prepared by their facility, and will use the strategies they learned, along with the support from a group, to live a drug-free life.

Dexedrine Addiction

References: Dexedrine

  1. Hoots B, Vivolo-Kantor A, Seth P. The rise in non-fatal and fatal overdoses involving dexedrine with and without opioids in the United States. Addiction. 2020;115(5):946–58.[Article]
  2. American Psychiatric Association. Text Revision. 4th. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. []
  3. Bergfalk H. Gothenburg, Sweden: Qbtech AB; 2003. Qb Test User Manual. []
  4. Borcherding BG. Keysor CS. Cooper TB. Rapoport JL. Differential effects of methylphenidate and dexedrine on motor activity level of hyperactive children. Neuropsychopharmacology. 1989;2:255–263. [PubMed]
  5. Halmoy A. Fasmer OB. Gillberg C. Haavik J. Occupational outcome in adult ADHD: Impact of symptom profile, comorbid psychiatric problems, and treatment: A cross-sectional study of 414 clinically diagnosed adult ADHD patients. J Atten Disord. 2009;13:175–187.[]
  6. Vogt C. Willimas T. Early identification of stimulant treatment responders, partial responders and non-responders using objective measures in children and adolescents with Hyperkinetic Disorder. Child Adolesc Ment Health. 2011;16:144–149. []
  7. Adler LA, Weisler RH, Goodman DW, et al. (2009) Short-term effects of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate on cardiovascular parameters in a 4-week clinical trial in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Clin Psychiat 70: 1652–1661 [PubMed]
  8. Bolden-Watson C, Richelson E. (1993) Blockade by newly developed antidepressants of biogenic amine uptake into rat brain synaptosomes. Life Sci 52: 1023–1029 []
  9. Cheetham SC, Kulkarni RS, Rowley HL, et al. (2007) The SH rat model of ADHD has profoundly different catecholaminergic responses to dexedrine enantiomers compared with Sprague-Dawleys. Society for Neurosciences. Abstract 386.14. Available online at: www.sfn.org
  10. Fleckenstein AE, Volz TJ, Hanson GR. (2019) Psychostimulant-induced dexedrine alterations in vesicular monoamine transporter-2 function: Neurotoxic and therapeutic implications. Neuropharmacology 56: 133–138 []
  11. Heal DJ, Smith SL, Findling RL. (2020) Dexedrine: Current and future therapeutics. Curr Top Behav Neurosci 9: 361–390 [PubMed]
  12. Wigal SB, McGough JJ, McCracken JT, et al. (2005) A laboratory school comparison of mixed dexedrine extended release (Adderal XR®) and atomoxetine (Strattera®) in school-aged children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Atten Disord 9: 275–289[]
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Dexedrine addiction and treatment
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Dexedrine addiction and treatment
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The first stage of Dexedrine addiction treatment is always detoxification, usually known as detox. This is the natural process during which the body will rid itself of toxins, such as amphetamines. It usually takes about a week for the body to rid itself of all traces of a drug. During this period, an addict can experience severe withdrawal and cravings.
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