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What Are the Short- and Long-Term Effects of Dexedrine Use?

Someone battling ADHD can take Dexedrine to improve focus, attention, and concentration levels while helping to regulate impulse control and hyperactivity.

Dexedrine is a stimulant which can increase body temperature, raise heart rate and blood pressure, suppress appetite, and disrupt sleep.

Dexedrine Use

Dexedrine is the brand name for the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) prescription medication containing dextroamphetamine, a stimulant drug. Dexedrine is dispensed in both immediate- and extended-release formulations (Dexedrine Spansule).

Dexedrine is FDA-approved for the treatment of ADHD in people ages three and older. Dexedrine Spansule is approved for those between the ages of six and 16. 

Dextroamphetamine is believed to interact with dopamine levels in the brain, and it has the potential for diversion and misuse. Abuse of Dexedrine can cause a euphoric high, heightening energy and excitability.

Abuse of Dexedrine raises the risk for hazardous side effects, including fatal overdose and addiction.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes that long-term use of Dexedrine is not recommended, as it can cause drug dependence. Prolonged use can cause a host of adverse emotional and physical side effects, including trouble stopping the use of the drug due to significant cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Dexedrine should only be used under the direct guidance of a medical professional.

Immediate Impact of Dexedrine

When used for therapeutic and medicinal purposes, Dexedrine is generally started at a low dose to ensure it will be tolerated.

Since it is metabolized primarily in the liver, those with hepatic impairment should not take Dexedrine.

Dextroamphetamine products like Dexedrine do carry a risk for sudden death, cardiovascular complications, heart attack, and stroke, particularly in people with a history of high blood pressure, heart problems, heart conditions, or defects, the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) explains.

ADDitude magazine publishes the following as the most common side effects of Dexedrine use:

  • Irregular heart rate
  • Headache
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach

More serious and less common side effects of Dexedrine can include the following:

  • Blurred vision or vision problems
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Impaired thinking and mental abilities
  • Psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions, and mania
  • Aggressive and potentially violent behaviors
  • Increased rate of suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures

Hazards of Abuse

Misuse of Dexedrine can increase the rate and intensity of these side effects. It can also increase the risk of suffering from a toxic overdose that can lead to stroke, heart attack, seizures, or cardiovascular collapse.

Hallucinations, high body temperature, agitation, and convulsions are signs of a Dexedrine overdose.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) publishes that close to two million people in the United States were currently misusing stimulant drugs at the time of the survey in 2016. 

When used in large amounts, amphetamines can cause psychosis, cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, and sudden death, the journal Brain and Behavior warns. Lowered inhibitions, impulse control issues, impaired decision-making processes, decreased mental capabilities, significant mood swings, increased hostility, aggression, and violence can be side effects of Dexedrine abuse.

The more Dexedrine is taken, the greater the hazards. If Dexedrine is crushed and snorted, injected, smoked, or chewed, the risk factors can all be amplified. Combining Dexedrine with other drugs or alcohol will also exacerbate the dangers and potential complications. 

Effects on the Brain and Body of Prolonged Use

Dexedrine is considered to be highly addictive, especially when misused by someone who does not suffer from ADHD, ADDitude magazine warns.

Even regular use of Dexedrine for medicinal purposes can cause tolerance to the drug, which will mean that a person will need to take higher doses for it to work. Regular use of Dexedrine can cause drug dependence, and the brain will have a hard time maintaining chemical balance without the medication.

Withdrawal symptoms, including drug cravings, depression, anxiety, restless, insomnia, mood swings, irritability, tremors, fatigue, and hyperactivity, can all occur when Dexedrine processes out of the body.

Withdrawal can make it hard to stop taking Dexedrine. It encourages people to take more of the drug to make it go away. This can lead to addiction and an inability to control drug use.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns that chronic amphetamine use can also lead to the following complications:

  • Violent, unpredictable, and erratic behaviors
  • Psychosis similar to schizophrenia, including paranoia, obsession with one’s own thoughts, and hallucinations (both auditory and visual)
  • Compulsive skin picking, which can be a reaction to hallucinations of “bugs” under the skin
  • Depression

Long-term Dexedrine use can suppress growth in children and lead to significant weight loss.

When addiction is a factor, a drug abuse treatment program is the optimal method for minimizing relapse and managing drug dependence, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms.

Abstinence from Dexedrine for an extended period of time is likely to reverse most of the potential side effects of the medication.

Sources

(March 2007). Dexedrine. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/017078s042lbl.pdf

(January 2019). Dextroamphetamine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved February 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605027.html

(2019). Dexedrine. ADDitude. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.additudemag.com/medication/dexedrine/

(September 2012). Prescription Stimulants in Individuals With and Without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Misuse, Cognitive Impact, and Adverse Effects. Brain and Behavior. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489818/

(2019). Dexedrine: ADHD Medication FAQ. ADDitude. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.additudemag.com/dexedrine-adhd-medication-faq/

(2017). Drugs of Abuse a DEA Resource Guide. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf%23page=50

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