Dextroamphetamine is a medication classified as a stimulant drug used to treat conditions that include ADHD. It has an amphetamine component and is a substance that was originally used to treat conditions like nasal congestion, depression, and alcohol hangover in the early 20th century, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research.

Dexedrine is a brand name for dextroamphetamine. It is often the choice drug for abuse because of the desired effects it brings to its users. With an effect in the body similar to that of cocaine but longer-lasting, this drug is sometimes abused both for the euphoric high it is known to cause and also for the boost in energy and confidence that individuals experience from taking it. Understanding the attraction to this drug may assist in recognizing dextroamphetamine abuse and addiction. The use of dextroamphetamine promotes focus and can make the person who takes it feel like he or she has more energy, feel more positive about life, and an overall euphoric existence. As the one of the components in amphetamine, dextroamphetamine actually has a stronger effect than amphetamine. Because of this, Dexedrine can even have a stronger effect than drugs like Adderall that mix amphetamine with dextroamphetamine. Based on its stimulant effects, this has made drugs with dextroamphetamine like Dexedrine, a potential drug for abuse for those who wish to feel its desirable side-effects.

Abuse of Dextroamphetamine

Dexedrine is commonly abused by teenagers and young adults, but can be abused by anyone. There are multiple reasons for the abuse of dextroamphetamine. As with other ADHD treatment medications like Adderall, some students use it as a “study drug,” under the expectation that it will help them improve focus on studying in the short-term, leading to more efficient studying and better test scores in school. This has been proven to be a myth, according to the American Addiction Centers. Students who abuse ADHD drugs or do not have a legitimate prescription have actually been shown to do worse on tests.

The abuse of stimulants like dextroamphetamine has also been linked to people who have negative body perception issues. In the book Chemically Modified Bodies, Amy Jeffers and Eric Benotsch discuss the reasons why drugs like Dexedrine might be attractive to those who hold negative body images about themselves. Because stimulants like dextroamphetamine can cause loss of appetite and therefore induce weight loss, individuals with these self-image issues often us this drug to help themselves lose weight.

What does Dextroamphetamine abuse look like?

There are many aspects in identifying dextroamphetamine abuse that is based both on physical and mental symptoms and behavioral indicators that can help confirm a suspicion that an individual is abusing. As with any suspicion of drug abuse or addiction, diagnosis of abuse should be confirmed through a certified addiction treatment professional or medical doctor.

The physical signs of dextroamphetamine abuse include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating profusely
  • New physical tics or muscle spasms
  • Increased or erratic heartbeat or breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

The emotional or mental signs include:

  • Agitation
  • A feeling of invincibility or exhilaration
  • Restlessness or nervousness
  • Extreme mood swings

Lastly, as with any substance abuse disorder, abuse of a stimulant may result in the following behaviors and symtoms:

  • Loss of interest in typical activities and hobbies
  • Change in friendships
  • Missing pills from a prescription or stolen prescriptions
  • Increase in relationship problems, especially revolving around use of the substance
  • Inability to continue with daily responsibilities
  • Cravings for the drug or extreme drug-seeking behaviors
  • Inability to control use of the drug
  • Manifestation of withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped, including depression or excessive sleep

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dexedrine abuse can, in fact, lead to dependence and addiction. Research has shown that this continued stimulant abuse can result in the destruction of brain cells related to the dopamine system, which is the center for pleasure and manages the pleasure and reward responses in the body.

The destruction of these brain cells means that it becomes more difficult for the person to achieve the feeling of pleasure. This causes the person to crave more of the drug in order to be able to feel the pleasure that is now so difficult to reach. This becomes a vicious cycle and can lead to an individual being unable to feel pleasure at all, a condition called anhedonia. This can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.

Treatment for Dexedrine Addiction

Treating dextroamphetamine abuse can certainly be a challenge because of the severe consequences of using this type of drug, including the development of anhedonia and depression. These issues make relapse to stimulant abuse very common compared to other substances, even with treatment and months or years after the initial use has stopped. For this reason, professional and research-based treatment can be the most reliable way to help a person recover from dextroamphetamine abuse in the long-term. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which enables the individual to recognize triggers that lead to cravings and relapse, and apply tools and alternative behaviors that interrupt drug-seeking behaviors, has been shown to decrease the likelihood of relapse and encourage the ending of abuse.