Updated on November 14, 2023
7 min read

Dexedrine: Effects, Interactions & Addiction

What is Dexedrine?

Dexedrine is the brand name for dextroamphetamine, and is sold as Dextrostate. It’s typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.1

It’s a stimulant that helps people with ADHD focus and remain calm. Meanwhile, it can help people with narcolepsy feel wakeful and energetic.2

Dexedrine affects the central nervous system (CNS), boosting dopamine and norepinephrine, which improve concentration and focus.2,3 However, Dexedrine is a Schedule II controlled substance with a high potential for drug dependence and addiction.4

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Is Dexedrine Addictive?

Yes, Dexedrine has a high risk of abuse, addiction, and dependency. Stimulants trigger a euphoric high when taken in larger-than-prescribed doses.1,4

Dexedrine enables you to stay awake and focused for long periods. As a result, it’s often considered a 'study drug' for improving work and academic performance.

Dexedrine addiction symptoms include:2

  • Hazardous use associated with risky behaviors
  • Problems with personal relationships
  • Neglect of responsibilities
  • Failed attempts to stop using 
  • Illegal access of the drug when it isn’t prescribed for you
  • Physical or psychological problems linked to the drug
  • Giving up activities that were once enjoyed
  • Cravings
  • Withdrawal

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Can You Overdose on Dexedrine?

If you abuse Dexedrine or use it for prolonged periods, you may develop a tolerance for it. This means you’ll need higher and more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect, which can lead to an overdose.4

Overdose symptoms include:7

  • Shakiness or muscle twitching
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fast breathing
  • Confusion
  • Aggressiveness
  • Fever
  • Muscle pains

Medication and invasive medical procedures could be necessary if you overdose on Dexedrine. If you or someone you know has overdosed on Dexedrine, seek medical help immediately.

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Dexedrine Withdrawal

If you’ve been using Dexedrine for prolonged periods, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. Dexedrine triggers change in the brain’s neurotransmitters. It also affects dopamine levels.1

When you stop using the drug, your brain cannot function normally without it. Dexedrine’s withdrawal symptoms include:1,2

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy levels
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme hunger and thirst
  • Chills
  • Unusual dreams
  • Muscle aches
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Dexedrine Addiction Treatment

There is no specific Dexedrine addiction treatment. However, there are treatment centers that offer programs and therapies to aid in the recovery process. 

These include:

  • Medical detox: Medically supervised detox used to avoid harmful withdrawal effects
  • Inpatient treatment: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision during your recovery and treatment program
  • Outpatient treatment: A treatment program where you’re freely allowed to leave the rehab facility when you’re not actively in a treatment session or class
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): A treatment program where you stay at a rehab facility for a day and return home at night
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A behavioral healthcare program that explores the link between thought patterns and substance abuse
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): Involves using medication, counseling, and therapy to treat addiction
  • Support groups: Provide a much-needed community to help maintain sobriety after treatment
  • 12-step programs: Support groups that follow a 12-step process designed to help guide people through recovery and maintain sobriety

How to Take Dexedrine

Like other prescription stimulants, you should only take Dexedrine as prescribed. Follow all instructions carefully and read all the information provided to you.2 The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Don’t take anyone else’s prescription medication.

Generally, you should take Dexedrine 1-3 times a day. The first dose is usually taken in the morning to avoid sleep problems. If more doses are prescribed, take them 4-6 hours apart.2

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it’s close to your next dose, skip the missed one. Avoid taking two doses at the same time or extra doses.

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Side Effects of Dexedrine

Dexedrine abuse can lead to negative consequences ranging from mild to severe. There are also a few rare side effects that you should watch out for. These side effects include:

Mild Side Effects

Dexedrine is linked to several common side effects, including:2

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Sleep disorders
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Increase in blood pressure

If your symptoms start to intensify, contact your doctor. You should also get your blood pressure tested regularly in case of changes in your blood pressure. 

Severe Side Effects

Several serious side effects warrant immediate medical attention. This includes:2

  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe headache
  • Pain in the chest, left arm, or jaw
  • Irregular or pounding heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden death

Long-term drug abuse can also lead to addiction and dependence.1 Both of which come with long-term health risks and complications.

Rare Side Effects

Rare but more serious side effects associated with Dexedrine include:2

  • Numbness, coldness, or skin color changes that could indicate circulation problems
  • Unusual finger or toe wounds
  • Behavior changes or mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Muscle twitching or shaking
  • Uncontrolled movement
  • Vocal outbursts
  • Swelling in the feet or ankles
  • Changes in sexual interest or ability
  • Prolonged or frequent erections
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Significant unexplained weight loss

Who is at Risk When Taking Dexedrine?

Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of Dexedrine, especially weight loss. This medicine may also slow down a child’s growth.

Your doctor may suggest temporarily stopping use occasionally to reduce this risk. If your child is taking Dexedrine, be sure to monitor their weight and height.

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of Dexedrine, especially chest pain, weight loss, or trouble sleeping. If you require surgery, make sure you tell your doctor or dentist about all the drugs you’re using, including: 

  • Prescription drugs
  • Nonprescription drugs
  • Herbal supplements.

Dexedrine Interactions

Dexedrine can interact with other drugs and alcohol. This can change how the medication works and increase the risk of serious side effects. 

Taking Dexedrine with alcohol or marijuana can increase your dizziness. Speak to your doctor if you’re using marijuana for medical or recreational reasons before taking Dexedrine.

Other substances you should avoid while taking Dexedrine include:

  • MAO inhibitors like isocarboxazid, linezolid, metaxalone, etc.
  • Blood pressure medication
  • MDMA or ecstasy
  • Antidepressants 
  • SSRIs such as fluoxetine/paroxetine 
  • SNRIs such as duloxetine/venlafaxine
  • Medications containing amphetamine or lisdexamfetamine

Risks of Dexedrine

Prescription stimulants like Dexedrine come with multiple risks. It can cause liver damage, especially in people with pre-existing liver health issues.

Dexedrine abuse can also increase the risk of serious cardiovascular adverse events and sudden death. Finally, Dexedrine is a mind-altering medication that increases the risk of:

  • Hallucinations
  • Mania
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Violent tendencies

Conditions that Can Affect Dexedrine Use

Dexedrine may contain inactive ingredients, leading to allergic reactions or other issues. You should let your healthcare provider know if you’re allergic to Dexedrine or other allergies. Especially if you’re allergic to other sympathomimetic drugs like amphetamines of lisdexamfetamine. 

You should also tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history before taking this medication. These include:

  • Blood circulation issues (such as Raynaud's disease)
  • Certain mental or mood conditions (such as severe agitation or psychosis)
  • Personal or family history of mental or mood disorders 
  • Heart problems 
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Glaucoma
  • Seizures
  • Personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as drug abuse and alcohol addiction)
  • Personal or family history of uncontrolled muscle movements (such as Tourette's syndrome)

Serotonin Syndrome

Dexedrine abuse can also cause serotonin syndrome by increasing serotonin levels to toxic levels. The likelihood of a serotonin syndrome increases when you take Dexedrine with other serotonin-increasing medications such as antidepressants and other illicit drugs.2

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:2

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Twitching
  • Unexplained fever
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Overdose


Dexedrine is a stimulant commonly prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. However, it’s also a Schedule II drug with a high potential for physical dependence and addiction.

Dexedrine has various of side effects that range from mild to severe. Abusing the drug can also lead to withdrawal and overdose. 

Dexedrine can also interact with other substances, leading to harmful side effects. Fortunately, various treatment plans can help you recover from addiction.

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Updated on November 14, 2023

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