Dexedrine is a brand name of dextroamphetamine, a prescription medication used to treat ADHD in children and adults, as well as narcolepsy. Dextroamphetamine is a type of drug that is known as a central nervous system stimulant. This type of drug increases brain activity by affecting levels of certain neurotransmitters within the brain.
Misusing Dexedrine can lead to an increased tolerance to the drug. When this occurs, higher and higher doses of the drug are needed in order to achieve the desired effects. Misuse of prescription medications like Dexedrine can also lead to physical dependence and addiction.
According to the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), amphetamines like Dexedrine work by triggering the release of dopamine and norepinephrine within the central nervous system, and inhibiting their reuptake. This leads to an increase in levels of these neurotransmitters, thereby leading to increased brain activity. This helps to prevent the excessive daytime sleepiness seen in narcolepsy, and the inattention and hyperactivity seen in ADHD.
Who Is at Risk for Dexedrine Addiction?
Medications like Dexedrine can be habit-forming, and they are typically not prescribed to people with a history of addiction. Most people who become addicted to Dexedrine were originally prescribed the medication for legitimate use. Some people become addicted when they attempt to self-medicate by using the drug differently than their doctor prescribed in an attempt to better control their ADHD or narcolepsy symptoms. They may use more of the drug than prescribed, or chew the extended-release capsules to receive the entire dose simultaneously.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that some young people abuse drugs like Dexedrine in an attempt to boost academic or athletic performance. This is due to a false belief that drugs that treat ADHD enhance cognitive functioning in anyone. While Dexedrine does promote wakefulness, it does not improve focus or cognitive ability in people who do not have ADHD. This drug can also cause euphoria when misused in certain ways, so some individuals will abuse this medication for that purpose.
Effects of Dexedrine Abuse
Even when used correctly under a doctor’s supervision, dextroamphetamine can have unintended effects. These side effects increase with the dosage being used, and they can be very serious if the drug is being abused. Some of the more common side effects, according to the National Library of Medicine, include:
More serious side effects can also occur. These are more likely if you are using large doses of dextroamphetamine or are otherwise abusing the drug:
Overuse of Dexedrine can lead to serious heart problems, and even death. This risk is increased in children and teenagers, particularly those with heart problems. Sudden death, heart attack, and stroke have also occurred in adults using this drug.
One of the most serious risks of abusing dextroamphetamine is the risk of overdose. Misusing your medication in any way can lead to overdose, which can be deadly. Symptoms of overdose include:
According to CESAR, long-term abuse of amphetamines like Dexedrine can cause lasting damage to the brain and body. Major organs are put under extreme stress when repeatedly exposed to drugs, which can lead to organ damage or failure. Individuals who abuse this drug may also experience toxic psychosis, mental health disorders, cardiac arrhythmias, ulcers, malnutrition, skin disorders, and vitamin deficiency.
Detox and Treatment
It is recommended that use of dextroamphetamine be slowly tapered rather than stopped suddenly. Stopping use of dextroamphetamine too quickly can trigger depression and exhaustion, particularly if the drug has been misused. Medical detox, which provides close supervision by a doctor, is generally recommended.
Detoxification is only the first step in treating an addiction to Dexedrine. To prevent a return to drug use, long-term behavioral therapy is typically necessary. This may take the form of outpatient therapy, peer support and self-help groups, inpatient treatment, or some combination of these approaches. Many individuals suffering from addiction begin their treatment in an inpatient setting and transition to outpatient therapy as their sobriety becomes better established.
Some addictions can be treated with medication to ease symptoms of withdrawal and prevent cravings. There are currently no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of Dexedrine addiction; however, some medications, such as anti-nausea medications and anti-anxiety medications, may be administered during withdrawal to control symptoms.
Addiction treatment is most effective when it is highly personalized. An approach that works well for one individual may not be the best approach for another, so individual circumstances must be taken into account. Many different therapy modalities have been shown to be effective in treating addiction, according to NIDA, including:
There are also therapy modalities that are specially modified to work with young people, often incorporating the individual’s family into the process.
All of these approaches can help the individual engage in the treatment process, feel motivated to stop drug use, and provide life skills and coping techniques to resist future triggers to use drugs. The ultimate goal of treatment is to create a firm foundation for a lifetime of recovery.
A Better Future
Recovering from Dexedrine addiction is a challenging process, often complicated by other addictions and co-occurring mental and physical health disorders. The most effective treatment plans take into account all co-occurring disorders, and they are personalized to the individual’s specific needs and progress in recovery.
Evidence-based professional treatment is the recommended approach to treating an addiction. With significant effort and sufficient resources, addiction can be overcome.