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Dextroamphetamine Abuse Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment


What Is Dextroamphetamine Used For?

Dextroamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

This substance is also known by specific brand names such as Dexedrine, ProCentra or Zenzedi. The well-known ADHD drug Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Street names for dextroamphetamine include “dex,” “bennies,” and “uppers.”

Dextroamphetamine Abuse Symptoms

Dextroamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance that carries a high risk of abuse and addiction. Stimulants like dextroamphetamine are often abused for their ability to produce desirable feelings such as:

  • Increased energy.
  • Heightened focus.
  • Increased alertness.
  • Suppressed appetite.
  • Feelings of euphoria.

Abuse of dextroamphetamine occurs when users take the drug in excess amounts or utilize alternate methods of administration (i.e. crushing and snorting dextroamphetamine or injecting it) with the intent of eliciting more rapid and intense effects. Abusing dextroamphetamine has the potential to cause serious physical and mental health symptoms ranging from paranoia to cardiovascular failure. Learn more about the effects of dextroamphetamine use.

Signs and Symptoms of Dextroamphetamine Abuse

A number of symptoms may indicate the abuse of dextroamphetamine, including:

The user may have a persistent runny nose or nosebleeds if the pills are crushed and snorted. A user may have needle or “track” marks if he or she injects the pills.

Dextroamphetamine Side Effects


The abuse of dextroamphetamine has serious health consequences, including:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly.
  • Impaired memory.
  • Unhealthy weight loss; malnutrition.
  • Hypertension (raised blood pressure).
  • Tachycardia (raised heart rate).
  • Impaired eyesight.
  • Psychotic symptoms.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures (highest risk in patients with seizure history).
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Death.

A condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon is also commonly associated with dextroamphetamine abuse and is characterized by a stronger-than-normal reaction to cold. During an “attack,” toes and fingers may feel numb and change color (pale to bluish and then to red) and then begin to tingle and throb as they warm up.

Dextroamphetamine abuse and addiction can also take a toll on the user’s life and cause numerous troubling issues, including:

  • Difficulty concentrating at school or work.
  • Prioritizing dextroamphetamine over personal obligations and previously enjoyed activities.
  • Experiencing legal difficulties from use, such as those associated with driving while impaired, stealing to finance the habit, etc.
  • Suffering from strained relationships with family members and loved ones.

Finally, continuing to abuse dextroamphetamine contributes to the risk of fatal dextroamphetamine overdose.

Dextroamphetamine Statistics

drugabuse-shutter364996967-male-student-adderallAccording to a 2012 study on prescription stimulant use:

  • Nearly a quarter of middle or high-school students who were prescribed stimulants were asked to give or sell their medications to others in 2012.
  • Over 35% of undergraduate students reported using non-prescribed stimulants.
  • Of those undergraduate students who were prescribed medication for ADHD, 25% misused their medications to get high.
  • Of a set of dental and dental hygiene students studied, just over 12% used stimulant medications without a prescription and, of those, 70% took them to improve attention and concentration.
  • More than 10% of medical students were found to abuse stimulants, while 5.5% were formally diagnosed with ADHD. Nearly 75% of those were diagnosed after age 18.

For more information, visit our page on the History and Statistics of “Study Drugs”.

Teen Dextroamphetamine Abuse

In the younger community, middle and high-school aged students are obtaining prescription stimulants from friends. Teens who misuse prescription stimulants do so to get high or increase their ability to study, focus, and obtain better grades. This is cause for alarm not only because of the potential effects of stimulant abuse, but also because the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that young people who abuse prescription stimulants are more likely to abuse other drugs.

Dextroamphetamine is primarily used to treat ADHD. According to NIDA:

  • In 2011, 11% of Americans between the age of 4 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD (NIDA, 2014).
  • In 2014, 6.8% of high school seniors reported the non-medical use of prescription stimulants like Adderall.
  • Regular use of prescription stimulants is viewed as harmful by declining numbers of high school seniors than in previous years, from 69% in 2009 to 55.1% in 2014.

Learn more about teen drug misuse.

Stimulant Abuse Prevention

Prevention is essential in addressing the issue of prescription stimulant misuse among children and teenagers. Prevention starts at home and includes several facets, including:

  • Developing and maintaining open lines of communication with your child to discuss substance use and any issues or questions they have.
  • Maintaining involvement in your child’s life by getting to know them, being aware of their strengths, and giving love, encouragement, and support.
  • Setting clear and consistent rules that are enforced with proper consequences.
  • Being a good role model and practicing what you preach by avoiding drugs and staying healthy and safe.
  • Helping your child identify healthy activities and maintain positive friendships.
  • Remaining aware of what your child is doing, such as activities they engage in. Get to know their friends, as well as their friends’ parents.
  • Provide positive and engaging activities in safe, supportive environments to give your child healthy alternatives to drug use.

Resources, Articles, and More Information

Many resources can help increase your understanding of dextroamphetamine, stimulant misuse and abuse, and recovery. Check out some of these websites:

Professional addiction treatment can start anyone battling substance misuse on the path to a happier and healthier life. Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. To get help for yourself or someone you love, please call us free at . Our treatment advisors can help direct you to a program that suits your needs.

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