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The Effects of Dextroamphetamine Use

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man thinking after argumentEDextroamphetamine is a prescription stimulant used in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Dextroamphetamine is commonly found under the brand names Dexedrine and ProCentra and a more recently approved immediate-release formulation, Zenzedi. In addition, Adderall is the trade name for a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.

Is Dextroamphetamine Harmful?

When dextroamphetamine is properly prescribed and taken accordingly, this drug can be safe and highly effective; however, when this stimulant is used for nonmedical purposes or taken in doses or methods other than prescribed, it can be extremely harmful.

Abuse of dextroamphetamine can:

  • Negatively affect a user’s physical and mental health.
  • Cause strained relationships with family and loved ones.
  • Interfere with school or work performance.
  • Lead to legal troubles.
  • Raise the risk of dependence and addiction.

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug use and Health, an estimated 1.6 million Americans over age 12 were misusing medications like dextroamphetamine at the time of the survey. The dangers of stimulant abuse are seen in a 2013 SAMHSA report, which shows that emergency room visits involving prescription stimulants increased from about 13,000 to more than 31,000 between 2005 and 2010.

Dextroamphetamine’s Short-Term Effects

Dextroamphetamine and other prescription stimulants intensify the effects of key neurotransmitters in the brain (e.g., dopamine and norepinephrine) to produce effects such as the following:

  • A euphoric high with increased heart rate, blood pressure, and energy.
  • Increased feelings of self-confidence.
  • Increased sociability.
  • Suppressed appetite and weight loss.

Due to the alertness and energy-boosting stimulant effects, this substance is often abused to enhance performance in school or in sports.

Side Effects

Dextroamphetamine has a wide array of potential side effects ranging from mild to life-threatening and include:

  • Headache.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Restlessness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Weight loss.
  • Circulation problems.
  • Tremors.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Dizziness.
  • Difficulty thinking clearly.
  • Manic behavior.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Psychotic symptoms.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Seizures.

The risk of experiencing side effects is increased when dextroamphetamine is taken in larger doses than prescribed, taken for long periods of time, taken without a prescription, or combined with other substances.

Dextroamphetamine can be especially dangerous for those with pre-existing heart problems. Children and young adults with a history of heart defects are at increased risk of sudden death from dextroamphetamine use. Adults with serious heart conditions are particularly susceptible to stroke, sudden death, or heart attack.

Long-Term Effects of Abusing Dextroamphetamine

Long-term use of this substance can lead to mood changes and depression. Chronic misuse can also give rise to psychotic symptoms such as paranoia. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that an effect of chronic abuse is psychosis that is “clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia.”

Blood circulation problems and blocked arteries

Long-term dextroamphetamine abuse may also cause numerous persistent issues like:

  • Malnutrition and significant weight loss.
  • Memory problems.
  • Impaired thinking.
  • Mood and behavioral changes.
  • Tooth decay from dry mouth.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Circulatory problems.
  • Cardiovascular problems such as arrhythmias.

Injection use of dextroamphetamine introduces an entirely different set of dangers, such as the risk of HIV, hepatitis, and serious skin infections.

Dextroamphetamine Dependence

The pleasurable stimulating effects elicited by this substance may encourage abuse, which can ultimately lead to addiction.

Individuals who chronically misuse dextroamphetamine are likely to develop a tolerance, requiring larger and larger doses to achieve the same effects or high. Both physical and psychological dependence often develop, leading users to require dextroamphetamine or similar stimulants to get through the day as normal. This can create other issues, such as stealing, resorting to illegally obtaining dextroamphetamine by buying diverted prescriptions, or even using similar substances, such as methamphetamine, to avoid uncomfortable and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Continuing to misuse dextroamphetamine can lead to addiction. Signs of dextroamphetamine addiction include:

  • Craving the substance.
  • Inability to stop or cut down use in lieu of repeated attempts.
  • Compulsively using despite mounting negative consequences.
  • Prioritizing the drug above obligations or hobbies.
  • Needing increasing doses to feel the same effects.
  • Spending excessive amounts of time in finding and using the drug.
  • Experiencing withdrawal when not using.

Dextroamphetamine abuse can quickly become an all-consuming problem, but if you or someone you know is suffering, you are not alone. Learn how you can help a dextroamphetamine addict.

Dextroamphetamine Withdrawal Treatment

Dextroamphetamine withdrawal can be an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience and may produce symptoms such as:

  • Strong cravings.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Excessive fatigue.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Mood swings.
  • Depression.
  • Hallucinations.

Detoxification from dextroamphetamine can be uncomfortable enough to trigger relapse. Getting professional care during and after withdrawal can help to facilitate and maintain recovery from dextroamphetamine.

A comprehensive recovery regimen will consist of ongoing addiction treatment efforts once detox is completed. This additional treatment may be either inpatient or outpatient and will typically incorporate sober support groups to help ease the transition into a sober lifestyle. Call today to discover the types of treatment available and find a program that will provide you the guidance you need to quit dextroamphetamine for good.

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Leah Miller earned a certificate in chemical dependency counseling from Suffolk County Community College and her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Hofstra University. Leah began working with substance use disorders through an internship and saw the need for integrated treatment for dually diagnosed clients. Through schooling and beyond, Leah has worked with people with substance use disorders as well as severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. Leah also works with families of clients to educate them about the diagnosis of their loved ones and how to help them work towards recovery. Through her work with American Addiction Centers, Leah strives to educate the public and reduce the stigma surrounding substance use disorders and mental illness.
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