A Basic Guide to Finding a Dexedrine Addiction Treatment Facility
Dexedrine, also known by its generic name dextroamphetamine, is a Schedule II drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Chronic misuse of the drug can lead to addiction. Common side effects of Dexedrine include heart problems such as stroke and heart attack. Signs of overdose include nausea, seizures, and stroke.
What Is Dexedrine?
Dextroamphetamine (marketed under several brand formulations, including Dexedrine) is a prescription stimulant used to boost alertness, energy, and attention. People are prescribed Dexedrine primarily for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.1
ADHD is commonly treated with medication in both pediatric and adult populations.2 Besides Dexedrine, other popularly prescribed ADHD treatment medications include the dextroamphetamine formulation Adderall, as well as two methylphenidate drugs, Ritalin and Concerta.3 While these medications are effective in managing attention deficit disorders and narcolepsy, they all have the potential to be abused and can be addictive when they are. In fact, Dexedrine is in the same schedule of controlled substances (Schedule II) as methamphetamine,3 indicating its high abuse liability.
Common street names for amphetamine drugs such as Dexedrine include:4
- Black Beauties.
Dexedrine is in the same schedule of controlled substances (Schedule II) as methamphetamine, indicating its high abuse liability.
Stimulants like Dexedrine are widely used and abused in the United States. Roughly 17.2 million Americans report using stimulants, representing 6.4% of the population.5 Other statistics on the prevalence of amphetamine use include the following:
- Between 2002 and 2010, the number of prescriptions for ADHD medications increased by 46% for people under the age of 18.6
- In 2016, 5.7% of 8th graders, 8.8% of 10th graders, and 10% of 12th graders reported having used amphetamines.7
- In 2016, approximately 1.7 million people misused prescription stimulants like Dexedrine.8
- In 2016, 2.2% of young adults between 18 and 25 years old reported misusing a prescription stimulant in the past month.8
Short-Term Effects on the Brain and Body
Many who use Dexedrine experience a notable increase in energy and alertness. Using Dexedrine can boost a person’s attention, wakefulness, and in high enough doses, can produce feelings of euphoria.
People who abuse Dexedrine for its euphoric effects may crush the pills and snort the drug, or they may mix the crushed-up pills with water and inject the solution.9 Both of these forms of administration can be even more dangerous to the individual than misuse via oral routes.
Apart from the well-known risks of injection use, such as contracting bloodborne diseases and localized tissue inflammation, infection, and/or abscess formation, additional complications can arise when pills are crushed and injected. Some parts of the pill may be insoluble, and this can lead to widespread vascular inflammation, blood vessel blockage, or collapse,9 which in turn may be associated with more health problems, such as lung and vision damage.
Stimulant medications are linked to a range of short-term side effects, including an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. If you have underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, or heart arrhythmia, these changes can be quite serious.10
Heart-related problems from Dexedrine use can include:10
- Heart attack.
- Sudden death (especially in users with preexisting heart conditions).
In addition to cardiovascular risks, stimulants can worsen underlying mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder.10 Other possible side effects from Dexedrine use include:10
- Blurred vision.
- Upset stomach.
- Dryness of the mouth.
- Weight loss.
- Decreased appetite.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Impaired driving ability.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Manic episodes.
- Psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
Signs of Abuse and Addiction
Many people who misuse stimulants report getting the drug from a friend or family member as opposed to a medical professional. It’s important to keep in mind that abusing prescription drugs can be just as risky to your health as using illegal drugs like meth or heroin. If you’re taking more Dexedrine than directed or in ways other than directed, taking someone else’s prescription, or taking it solely for the purpose of getting high, you are abusing the drug. It doesn’t matter if you have a prescription—you can still be abusing Dexedrine and you can still get addicted.
Chronic use of dextroamphetamine can lead to tolerance development. After using Dexedrine repeatedly, your body may develop a tolerance to the drug. Once you have developed a tolerance, you will need more and more of the drug over time in order to feel the same effects. A tolerance to stimulants can develop quickly.11 With repeated use, and especially with ever-increasing doses, you may at some point become physically dependent on Dexedrine, requiring the drug just to feel normal and make it through the day.
Addiction is a separate phenomenon but one that is closely tied to dependence as well as tolerance. Addiction is the continuous use of Dexedrine despite its apparent harm or the knowledge of its potential for such harm. Someone addicted to Dexedrine may display behavioral changes like:
- Secrecy/attempting to hide drug use.
- Trouble with money or keeping a job.
- Problems with the law, including theft or other crimes.
- Changes in friend groups or social circles.
More specifically, the following are specific signs of a stimulant use disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V):15
- You use Dexedrine in increasingly larger amounts or over a longer period of time than you intended to.
- You try repeatedly to cut down or stop taking Dexedrine but are not successful.
- You spend a disproportionate amount of your time in trying to get Dexedrine, take it, or recover from the effects of it.
- You experience intense cravings or a strong desire to use the stimulant.
- Using Dexedrine causes you to neglect your major obligations at work, school, or home.
- You continue using stimulants despite social or health problems caused or made worse by the drug.
- You stop participating in activities you once enjoyed because of your drug use.
- You participate in situations that are physically hazardous, such as driving or operating machinery.
- You find that you need to keep upping your dose to feel Dexedrine’s effects.
- You develop symptoms of withdrawal whenever you try to reduce your dose or stop using altogether.
Developing an addiction to stimulants is a very real concern, which is why Dexedrine and similar prescription drugs like Adderall are DEA-controlled substances. Stimulant abuse can lead to malnutrition and other long-lasting health consequences.12
Physical symptoms of chronic stimulant abuse include:11-13
- Extreme fatigue.
- Hair loss.
- Dental problems such as tooth decay secondary to chronic dry mouth and compromised oral hygiene.
- Trouble breathing.
- Vision loss.
Psychological and behavioral signs of chronic stimulant abuse may include:11,14
- Risky sexual behavior.
Does Dexedrine Help You Study?
Dexedrine is prescribed to help people with ADHD focus. Because the drug contains an amphetamine, it is often abused for its stimulant effects. There is a recent trend of teens and young adults illicitly using prescription stimulants to enhance their performance on tests, studying, and work. However, no studies have found that these medications enhance learning or studying abilities among people who do not have ADHD. The drugs do increase a person’s ability to stay awake, but research has shown that high school and college students who abuse prescription stimulants have lower GPAs than students who do not abuse the drugs.9
No studies have found that these medications enhance learning or studying abilities among people who do not have ADHD.
A meta-analysis estimated that 17% of college students misuse stimulants. These students commonly get drugs like Dexedrine from a friend who has a prescription. While many individuals report abusing stimulants for academic reasons, some students report taking stimulants in order to drink alcohol for a longer period of time. This can be extremely dangerous, as simultaneous use of Dexedrine and alcohol increases the risk of dangerously heavy drinking and negative alcohol-related outcomes like blacking out, alcohol poisoning, driving while drunk, and having unprotected sex.6
Can You Overdose on Dexedrine?
According to the FDA, it is possible to overdose on Dexedrine, with doses as low as 2mg. Signs and symptoms of a Dexedrine overdose include:10
- Extreme restlessness, confusion, and panic.
- Hyperreflexia (overactive reflexes).
- Severe hyperthermia (fever over 106.7°).
- Fast breathing.
- Irregular heart rhythm.
- Abnormally high or low blood pressure.
- Abdominal cramps.
If you or someone you are near is overdosing after using Dexedrine or a combination of Dexedrine and other drugs or alcohol, call 911 immediately. Taking immediate action by calling for help can help save a life.
Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox
Stopping or reducing your intake of stimulants may result in the onset of a series of symptoms, which is known as the withdrawal syndrome. Withdrawal can develop within a few hours to a several days after stopping your stimulant use. It is characterized by symptoms such as:15
- Increased appetite.
- Unpleasant dreams.
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate).
During withdrawal, you may experience intense feelings of depression. Perhaps the most immediately dangerous associated symptom is suicidal ideation or behavior. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free, confidential support 24/7.
To get you safely through this period, you can detox in either a medically supervised or social model detox program:
- A medical detox protocol provides symptomatic monitoring and may utilize medications to minimize the risk of complications and manage any significantly severe symptoms that arise.
- The social model foregoes the use of medication to ease withdrawal. Rather, a social approach utilizes emotional/therapeutic support to usher you through this period. The social model is not recommended for drugs with dangerous withdrawal symptoms such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines. If you are concurrently using one or more of these drugs in combination with Dexedrine, seek out care from medical professionals.
The first step to starting a sober, healthy lifestyle is by entering a treatment program. There are several program types that you can choose to enter, depending on the severity of your addiction, your budget, and other factors.
If you have used Dexedrine for a long period of time, you will likely begin your treatment journey in an inpatient setting.
- Inpatient or residential: Inpatient treatment is unique in that you live at the facility throughout the duration of your program. Inpatient facilities provide intensive 24-hour care so that you will receive continuous support throughout your treatment. If you have a co-occurring substance use disorder, inpatient treatment can help you address both issues for a higher likelihood of successful recovery. Inpatient rehab often costs more than outpatient treatment because treatment includes room and board. Inpatient treatment centers also typically feature more amenities and services, such as private rooms, chef-prepared meals, and leisure activities.
- Outpatient: Outpatient programs provide more flexibility than inpatient programs and allow you to take care of other obligations such as work, school, or childcare while also attending treatment. Group counseling is at the crux of most outpatient programs, and during treatment you will learn how to cope with stressors and triggers. Outpatient treatment options may be best suited for relatively less severe stimulant addictions, for those with strong support systems on the homefront, or for those who have already completed an inpatient rehab program.
- Therapy: In inpatient or outpatient therapy, counselors and therapists may employ multiple therapeutic approaches to help address the underlying issues that are fueling your addiction. Stimulant addiction is sometimes treated with the Matrix Model and contingency management.
- Support Groups: Engaging in support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous throughout treatment can help you stay accountable and sober. You will meet with other people who are going through recovery and may be experiencing similar struggles and successes as you. Many people find support groups to be a source of strength and ongoing inspiration as they transition into a drug-free lifestyle.
- Aftercare: Before leaving treatment, you will create an aftercare plan to help you strategize about how to overcome triggers or urges to use stimulants after leaving rehab. Aftercare plans are individual and will look different for everyone but may include ongoing individual therapy, 12-step meetings, volunteer work, getting involved with an alumni program at your treatment center, or finding a new job.
Take Back Your Life
Addiction is a chronic condition that is characterized by a compulsion to continue using substances, despite their harmful medical and social consequences. Recovering from addiction can be a lifelong process, and relapse is common. But, there are many effective ways to treat addiction and stay sober in the long run. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, there are ways to get help. Reach out now.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2007). Overdose of Drugs for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Clinical Presentation, Mechanisms of Toxicity, and Management.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). Controlled Substances by DEA Code Number.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Amphetamines.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Prescription drug use and misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- Benson, K., Flory, K., Humphreys, K. L., & Lee, S. S. (2015). Misuse of stimulant medication among college students: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. Clinical child and family psychology review, 18(1), 50-76.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 17-5044, NSDUH Series H-52). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2007). Dexedrine.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (1999). Chapter 5—Medical Aspects of Stimulant Use Disorders.
- Srisurapanont, M., Jarusuraisin, N., & Kittirattanapaiboon, P. (2001). Treatment for amphetamine dependence and abuse. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 4.
- American College of Prosthodontists. (2016). Stimulants of Abuse and Oral Health.
- Benotsch, E. G., Koester, S., Luckman, D., Martin, A. M., & Cejka, A. (2011). Non-medical use of prescription drugs and sexual risk behavior in young adults. Addictive behaviors, 36(1), 152-155.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.