Dexedrine helps many people live normal lives. Unfortunately, just like any drug, it has the potential to be abused. Dexedrine abuse can lead to the development of a substance use disorder. In other words, as individuals begin to struggle with Dexedrine abuse, they may soon find themselves facing the reality of a life-altering Dexedrine addiction.
A Dexedrine addiction can affect a person’s life and everyone around them. Getting help quickly can avoid a lifetime of addiction. It’s treatable, but without professional treatment, it can lead to a serious mental health disorder or worse.
Dexedrine is a type of medication used to treat individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It’s the brand-name version of the prescription drug dextroamphetamine. Other brand-name forms of dextroamphetamine include Dextrostat and Zenzedi.
Dexedrine is known as a type of central nervous stimulant (CNS). Stimulants work by speeding up the body’s systems, which can make people feel more awake and alert. The CNS is made up of the spinal cord and the brain. The brain has many roles and distributes chemical messages through the spinal cord to other parts of the body.
Since Dexedrine is a CNS stimulant, it can affect the CNS in the following ways:
This prescription medication typically comes in the form of a pill. The pill may come as an instant or extended-release. The risk of Dexedrine abuse is high because it’s a stimulant. For this reason, patients typically must talk to their doctor when they want a new prescription. Individuals may be unable to get refills for this prescription, which is one way the industry fights against abuse. Making it less available and screening patients each time can help.
Dexedrine helps people with ADHD lead normal lives. People suffering from this disorder typically have issues with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. They might struggle with just one factor or a combination of more than one. It can be more difficult to be diagnosed with this disorder when a person only displays one symptom.
Signs and symptoms of ADHD include:
Leaving ADHD untreated can lead to other mental illnesses. In fact, many people with ADHD have co-occurring depression. A co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis, is when a person has two health disorders at the same time.
Narcolepsy is a type of sleep disorder. Every person has a sleep-wake cycle, also known as a circadian cycle. Narcolepsy disrupts this cycle, which results in excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).
There are two types of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy type one (NT1) Theis when people suddenly lose their muscle function and usually slump over. On the other hand, narcolepsy type two (NT2) has almost the same symptoms of NT1 without losing muscle control. Losing muscle control is known as cataplexy.
Many people are able to lead successful, normal lives because of prescription medications like Dexedrine. However, the euphoric effect and heightened focus produced by this drug can make Dexedrine abuse a strong possibility. In 2010, 15,585 Americans were admitted to the hospital for ADHD-treatment drugs. What makes Dexedrine particularly dangerous is the fact that it is much stronger than other ADHD-treatment medications, like Adderall.
For this reason, this ADHD-treatment medication is classified as a Schedule II drug. There are five classifications for schedules of drugs. The higher the number, the less likely it is for individuals to abuse them. Since Dexedrine is Schedule II, it means that it can be used for medicinal purposes but is also highly addictive. The only class above it is reserved for drugs that are completely illegal with no medical purpose.
Signs and symptoms of Dexedrine abuse include:
Some people need to take this medication to function. But even they can become addicted to it. Dexedrine helps people stay awake and focused. Yet, there is a limit. If someone is staying awake and focuses to the point that it’s unhealthy, it could be a sign of Dexedrine abuse.
Since abuse is a threat with this medication, it can always turn into a Dexedrine addiction. Individuals suffering from a Dexedrine addiction might find that they can’t stop taking it even when they try despite the harmful consequences that may come with it if they don’t stop. Addiction is a chronic brain disorder that prevents people from engaging in a certain activity even if they desperately want to.
Stimulants cause the body’s systems to speed up. This includes the production of specific chemicals that make someone feel good. People with ADHD are commonly found to have a dysfunctional dopamine system. Dopamine is a chemical associated with pleasure and, more specifically, feeling rewarded. It makes it more difficult for people with ADHD to experience that sense of reward from completed tasks, but also possibly causes them to seek more sources of dopamine more than the average person.
This is one reason why Dexedrine addiction happens. Another is that this drug increases the level of dopamine available in the brain. People with a normal level of dopamine will get a euphoric effect from taking ADHD-treatment medications. Even people with ADHD will get a euphoric effect because of the increase of dopamine. The body and brain enjoy the sensation and may want more.
Over time, a person can develop a tolerance for it. When the body and brain get used to the level of dopamine, it will take more of the drug to feel the same way. People with an addiction to this sort of drug will ultimately need to take it just to feel any sense of normalcy. If not, they might experience severe and serious withdrawal symptoms. The lack of dopamine can trigger intensely homicidal and suicidal feelings, in severe cases.
As a result of a dysfunctional dopamine system, people with ADHD might be more inclined to abuse stimulants and medication as a whole. One study asked over 480 participants with ADHD about their relationship with stimulants and ADHD-treatment medications. They found the following results:
The reason most cited for using illicit stimulants was because of the high onset. People with ADHD may be more likely to abuse Dexedrine because they want instant gratification. Those without this disorder are possibly less inclined to engage in risky behavior to get a sense of instant gratification.
Addiction to stimulants, like Dexedrine, can be life-threatening without the right treatment plan. Withdrawal symptoms are always a threat when people attempt to overcome an addiction like this on their own. They might relapse because of it. Up to 60% of recovering individuals relapse, making it all the more important for people with an addiction to Dexedrine to seek professional help from addiction recovery programs.
The first stage of recovery usually starts with a detox program. A program like this helps people get rid of the traces and toxins left by constant Dexedrine use. Stimulant withdrawal can result in:
With withdrawal symptoms like hallucinations, it’s important to have medical professionals monitoring patients. Plus, they might be able to prescribe medication to help with some of the symptoms. A Dexedrine detox doesn’t need to be unbearable.
There are two general options for people that want to get through addiction. Inpatient programs, like residential treatment, allow patients to live at the facility while they recover.
This is a good option for multiple reasons:
However, outpatient programs might be a more realistic option for some. There are three types of outpatient programs: general outpatient programs (least intense), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs—most intense). IOPs and OPs are great for people who can’t live at a facility because they have other responsibilities to attend to.
Addiction therapy is always an important part of treatment. Popular forms include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Each can help patients uncover self-destructive thought patterns and behaviors.
A Dexedrine addiction isn’t safe to try to overcome alone. Luckily, Free By the Sea offers addiction treatment services to help with Dexedrine abuse. If you or a loved one needs help overcoming an addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.