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What Is Dexedrine?

by Landmark Recovery

February 13, 2020
A young man leading a support group meeting for individuals suffering from an addiction to Dexedrine.

A powerful central nervous system stimulant, Dexedrine is the brand name for dextroamphetamine.

This drug is also sold using the brand names Dextrostat, Liquadd, ProCentra, and Zenzedi.

Dexedrine is primarily used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It’s also used to help mitigate narcolepsy.

When people with ADHD take Dexedrine, the drug encourages calm and focus. When the drug is used to treat narcolepsy, energy and wakefulness are promoted.

Since Dexedrine is more stimulating than Ritalin, it’s often used when Ritalin has been proven ineffective.

Registered as a Schedule II drug according to the Controlled Substances Act, while Dexedrine has a recognized medical use, it also comes with a high risk of both abuse and addiction.

Today, we’ll focus principally on the use of Dexedrine for ADHD starting with a brief glimpse at ADHD.



Two individuals talking about dexedrine for ADHD treatment.

ADHD is the abbreviated name for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

This condition typically occurs in childhood or adolescence, but it can also continue into adulthood. Occasionally, ADHD is not even diagnosed until adulthood.

According to the ADD Resource Center, 6.4 million American children aged 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.

ADHD was once considered a separate condition to ADD (attention deficit disorder), but the term ADHD is now used for both ADHD and ADD.

Symptoms include:

  • Combination of inattention and impulsive behavior
  • Difficulty maintaining attention or focus
  • Easily distracted by external stimuli
  • Hyperactivity and impulsive behavior

You can find the full diagnostic criteria for ADHD according to DSM-5 (the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) right here.

A range of modalities can be effective for dealing with ADHD including behavior training, psychotherapy, and education. That said, it’s also commonplace to use medication.

If you or your child needs medication, you should pay attention to the FDA boxed warning.

Misuse of amphetamine may cause sudden death and serious cardiovascular adverse reactions.”

Because of this, healthcare providers prescribing any drugs from this class often perform screening for any possible heart problems.

You can also expect the following contraindications:

  • Advanced arteriosclerosis
  • Agitated states
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypersensitivity or idiosyncrasy to the sympathomimetic amines
  • Hypertension (moderate to severe)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Symptomatic cardiovascular disease

As well as Dexedrine and Ritalin, Adderall is often used to treat ADHD. Before we explore the risks of Dexedrine abuse and addiction, we’ll touch first on how Dexedrine stacks up against Adderall.



Where Dexedrine is the brand name for dextroamphetamine, Adderall is the brand name for dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.

Both drugs are central nervous system stimulants. Both are approved for treating ADHD and narcolepsy.

As we mentioned earlier, Ritalin – the brand name for methylphenidate – is often the first medication used to treat ADHD. If this fails, Dexedrine and Adderall are more stimulating.

Used as prescribed for ADHD treatment, Dexedrine and Adderall both help with focus. Unfortunately, the amphetamine content means that both drugs are routinely abused. Indeed, the manner in which tolerance easily develops followed by dependence means that Dexedrine and Adderall each have a high potential for abuse.

The precise mechanism of these medications is unclear. Both drugs increase the lifespan of neurotransmitters controlling alertness and attention. They also boost the concentration of these neurotransmitters. As these areas become more active, so the person with ADHD can better focus their attention.

While it seems counterintuitive to use stimulants to treat ADHD, the way they increase the availability of certain chemicals in the brain can lessen symptoms in more than 70% of cases.



Dexedrine and Adderall are normally taken once a day in tablet form.

Dosage can be increased to twice or three times a day depending on the response to the medication.

Both medications are FDA approved for treating ADHD in anyone aged 3 and older.

A typical starting dose is 2.5mg to 5mg daily.

Your doctor will monitor your progress and response closely. The dose can be gradually adjusted accordingly.

The band of adult doses for Adderall and Dexedrine spans 5mg to 60mg. With children, the upper dose is 40mg daily.

Both Dexedrine and Adderall come in tablets of varying strengths. You can also find an extended-release form of both drugs.

If Dexedrine or Adderall are more appropriate than Ritalin, your healthcare provider will give you a written prescription. Neither drug is available without a prescription.

Before we double down fully on Dexedrine’s potential, a glance at the common side effects of these medications.



A man sleeping in a bed. Insomnia is a common side effect of taking Dexedrine

Both Dexedrine and Adderall come with similar potential side effects.

  • Changes in libido or impotence
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Palpitations and irregular heartbeats
  • Reduced growth in children
  • Urinary symptoms like burning while urinating
  • Weight loss

In isolated cases, Adderall can cause alopecia. This is not a listed side effect of Dexedrine.

As you can see, Dexedrine and Adderall have many commonalities.

Sadly, while Dexedrine is more than 70% effective, the danger of abuse is clear and present.



Just like all amphetamines, Dexedrine has a high potential for both abuse and addiction.

Any use of Dexedrine other than as directed by a doctor is considered abuse. This includes using Dexedrine without a prescription or using more than prescribed.


The main reasons for Dexedrine abuse are:

  • Increasing focus and alertness for studying and taking exams
  • Improving athletic performance
  • Weight loss


Dexedrine comes with some potentially serious side effects:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Circulation problems
  • Dry Mouth
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss


In greater doses, you might also experience the following more serious side effects:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Amphetamine-induced psychosis
  • Delusional thoughts
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Manic behavior
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures

There’s also a chance of long-term abuse and addiction developing when the medication is not taken as prescribed.

While addiction does not necessarily follow abuse, the more you abuse Dexedrine, the more likely it is to happen. Your brain chemistry will be gradually altered by the drug until it depends on it. This happens because Dexedrine encourages the release of dopamine. Known as the pleasure hormone, dopamine makes you feel good. When you become addicted to Dexedrine, your brain stops producing dopamine since Dexedrine is producing more than enough. If you discontinue use, withdrawal symptoms are commonplace.

How can you tell if abuse has descended into full-blown addiction, then?



When you’re addicted to Dexedrine, it can be challenging to stop using the drug even in the face of negative consequences.

If you or someone you know is taking Dexedrine and you’re worried about addiction, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Social and interpersonal problems: You’re encountering problems with your relationships and causing conflict as a result of Dexedrine abuse.
  • Dangerous use: You continue to use Dexedrine despite blacking out, overdosing, driving while impaired, or other potentially lethal situations.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: You find you’re failing to meet your responsibilities at home, work, or school.
  • Stopping normal activities: As Dexedrine abuse becomes heavier and addiction sets in, it’s normal to stop devoting as much time to favorite activities. The drug becomes all-consuming.
  • Tolerance building: You need to use increasingly greater doses of Dexedrine to achieve the same effects.
  • Using larger amounts of Dexedrine: You start to use Dexedrine for longer periods and you take more of the drug.
  • Health problems: You could notice physical or psychological problems developing. This is a sure sign you’re using Dexedrine irresponsibly.
  • You try to quit or control use but fail: You might recognize you have a problem with Dexedrine and make repeated failed attempts to control your use or stop using the drug completely.
  • Cravings: If you are not taking Dexedrine, you find a strong, almost uncontrollable desire for the substance.
  • Withdrawal: If you stop taking Dexedrine, you suffer unpleasant or painful withdrawal symptoms.



A young man leading a support group meeting for individuals suffering from an addiction to Dexedrine.

Whether you’re taking this medication for ADHD, narcolepsy, or in an ill-advised attempt to enhance athletic or cognitive performance, be aware of the high risk of abuse and addiction. Many people don’t find this out until they’re already addicted.

If you find yourself in that position, you’re certainly not alone and you can overcome this addiction just like any other.

When you’re addicted this substance, withdrawal symptoms are highly likely. For this reason, medically-supervised detox is normally advisable. During detox, you can have any uncomfortable symptoms managed while the Dexedrine leaves your system and dopamine levels in your brain are restored.

Residential treatment is by no means always necessary. In most cases, an intensive outpatient program is suitable.

Individual or group therapy can be useful. You might also consider support groups, SMART Recovery, or NA (narcotics anonymous) to help as well.



Here at Landmark Recovery, we have multiple state-of-the-art facilities to help you break free of any addiction that’s ruining your life.

If you have any concerns about Dexedrine abuse, call us today at 888-448-0302. One of our friendly team will be delighted to help you get back on track.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.