People who abuse stimulants like Dexedrine should become involved in an organized treatment program that includes the use of medications, therapy, and support group participation.
When individuals begin to lose control over their use of the drug, suffer difficulties with their everyday lives, and/or experience significant distress associated with Dexedrine use, they are on the road to developing a stimulant use disorder.
Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) is classified as a central nervous system stimulant medication. It can be used to treat the various forms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lethargy associated with neurological damage (from a head injury or stroke), and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder that consists of significant daytime sleepiness).
It may be used to reduce fatigue in people who are diagnosed with other types of illnesses or diseases, such as HIV, or those on chemotherapy.
Dexedrine and all products containing dextroamphetamine are categorized in the Schedule II classification of controlled substances. Substances placed in this classification by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) retain some useful medical uses, but they are extremely dangerous drugs if they are abused.
These drugs can only be used with a written prescription from a physician.
Central nervous system stimulants affect several different neurotransmitter systems of the brain, which are often referred to as catecholamines. These neurotransmitters include dopamine, norepinephrine, forms of glutamate, and serotonin.
Medications like Dexedrine facilitate the release and action of these neurotransmitters. In effect, these neurotransmitters stimulate the rest of the central nervous system and result in increased firing rates of neurons.
Medicines containing dextroamphetamine are typically available in pill or capsule form. People who abuse the drug can take the pills orally, but they often grind them up and either snort them or mix them with water and inject the solution.
In some instances, individuals may smoke the ground-up drug. In other cases, individuals may directly insert the pills or capsules into their rectum (a practice known as plugging).
Ground up pills are used for snorting, injecting, or smoking and results in faster and more efficient delivery of the drug into the central nervous system. Plugging also leads to more efficient delivery of the drug into the body.
When taken medicinally, the effects of Dexedrine may include the following:
The following are some of the other side effects that occur:
Most of the above side effects are relatively rare for individuals who use Dexedrine for medical reasons. They will very often resolve over time.
People who abuse the drug are more likely to experience more significant side effects for prolonged time periods.
People who chronically abuse amphetamines like Dexedrine may develop some long-term issues.
When Dexedrine is given medicinally, the prescribing physician attempts to find the lowest possible dose that will result in the desired medical effects.
Stimulant medications are not used for the long-term treatment of issues under most situations. Some exceptions to this include their use for the treatment of ADHD or significant lethargy in individuals with certain types of neurological conditions.
Even in children treated with dextroamphetamine for ADHD, physicians will often try to give them extended drug holidays, so their bodies can readjust to life without the medication.
People who abuse stimulants develop tolerance to their effects very quickly. When they abuse the stimulant, they tend to binge on the substance until it is gone.
This practice often results in a cycle of bingeing followed by abstinence, which leads to massive neurotransmitter release (during the bingeing cycle) followed by a massive neurotransmitter depletion (during the abstinent periods).
Individuals will become habituated to the euphoria-producing effects of the stimulant over time, and they will become sensitized to the crash that occurs when they are absent from the drug. Eventually, they will seek out the drug to avoid the apathy, depression, anxiety, and irritability that occur when they are not using it. This can lead to an extended cycle of abuse.
Some specific signs of Dexedrine abuse can include:
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has formalized diagnostic criteria for a stimulant use disorder, the substance use disorder that would be diagnosed in a person with chronic Dexedrine abuse. Only professional licensed clinicians can diagnose a substance use disorder in anyone.
In general, there are several categories of symptoms that are covered in the diagnostic criteria.
In addition, the person uses the stimulant medication for nonmedical reasons, and their use of the drug results in significant impairment or distress in life.
People who develop stimulant use disorders have developed a serious psychological disorder that requires some form of professional intervention.
There is the possibility that when a person attempts to quit using Dexedrine, they will experience withdrawal symptoms that may result in relapse. According to APA, withdrawal symptoms from stimulants will often include fatigue, sleep difficulties, recent appetite increase and weight gain, increased body temperature, higher blood pressure, and heartbeat irregularities. Some individuals may experience mood swings, including significant issues with depression.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the first step is to be evaluated by an addiction medicine physician or psychiatrist and enroll in a medication-assisted treatment program (a physician-assisted medical detox program) to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Even though there is no official medication that is used to treat withdrawal from Dexedrine, a physician will prescribe medications that will make a withdrawal from the drug easier to manage and allow people to focus on their recovery.
According to NIDA, in addition to medical detox, individuals should also:
There is a direct relationship between the length of time a person remains in treatment for any substance use disorder, including a stimulant use disorder as a result of Dexedrine abuse, and their overall success in recovery. The research indicates that people remaining in treatment-related activities and programs for longer periods of time have greater rates of long-term abstinence and overall success in recovery.
Treatment for a stimulant use disorder as a result of abusing Dexedrine should not be considered a short-term process. Most individuals require a significant amount of time in treatment — in many cases, years in treatment — to reduce the risk of relapse.
People need to continue to practice abstinence, get support from others and remain focused on their recovery to achieve success.
NIDA reports that, per the current understanding of recovery from substance abuse, relapse does not indicate failure. Occasional slips and full-blown relapses are more common in recovery from all substance use disorders than many people think.
Relapses should be treated as learning experiences and opportunities to improve the treatment program. This lets individuals move forward instead of catastrophizing the situation and reverting back to old habits.
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