DESCRIPTION / DEFINITIONS: The active ingredient in Dexedrine® is dextroamphetamine sulfate, and is in the amphetamine family. It is prescribed for Narcolepsy and for the set of symptoms known as Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD).

ABUSE: As with other amphetamines, Dexedrine has been extensively abused and has a high potential for abuse.

ADDICTION / DEPENDENCE: The Dexedrine label carries a black box warning regarding the high potential for abuse, addiction and dependence. It also warns of consequences such as sudden death and serious cardiovascular events. See more information below, as well as half life and metabolism.

SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects include fast heart beat, tremors, headache, seizures, and others. See more information below.

WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS: Depression, anxiety, fatigue, hunger, and increased need for sleep are included among the withdrawal symptoms. See more below.

TREATMENT: A medical professional should be consulted before quitting Dexedrine so the best treatment can be determined for maximum safety and comfort. See more information below.


Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulfate) is in the amphetamine family and available in immediate and sustained release formulations. It is prescribed for Narcolepsy and the set of symptoms known as Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD). However, it is supposed to be prescribed as one part of an ADHD program which also includes non-drug therapies.

As with all amphetamines, Dexedrine is a central nervous system stimulant. It is not known how it works to produce mental and behavioral effects, or how the effects relate to the condition of the central nervous system.

Dexedrine, along with Benzedrine, is one of the earliest amphetamines manufactured. It was popularized largely as a weight loss drug and by psychiatrists who prescribed it for depression and anxiety. It was also given to kids with the earlier names for the symptoms known as ADD since 1980. These included “minimal brain damage”, “minimal brain dysfunction”, “learning/behavioral disabilities,” “hyperactivity”, and “Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood”. As early as 1962, the amount of the drug used per capita in the U.S. was equal to the amount taken currently. Abuse of amphetamine, and the resulting addiction and dependence from 1929 to 1962 was considered to be an iatrogenic (meaning caused by medical treatment) epidemic – the amphetamine epidemic.

Because of the dangerous side effects, new legislation on the prescribing of amphetamine was enacted in 1970. Medical use of amphetamine declined, but general use did not. Much like the opioid crisis, which was started with prescriptions but then diverted to the black market and street drugs, amphetamine already had a tight hold on the population.

Currently, despite amphetamine being considered a danger to public health, it is FDA approved even for small children.

Additionally, it is estimated that half the non-medical users – those who have no prescription and abuse the drug – are using amphetamine from drug companies, not other types of amphetamine made in the illegal community.


Dexedrine has a high potential for an extensive history of abuse.


Dexedrine is a Schedule II controlled substance. As with other amphetamines, it has been extensively abused. One builds a tolerance to the drug, meaning you need to gradually increase the dosage to get the same effect. There are reports of patients who have increased the dosage to many times that recommended.

Dexedrine can lead to extreme psychological dependence and severe social disability.

Someone who is addicted to or dependent on Dexedrine and other amphetamines often experiences severe dermatoses, marked insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, and personality changes. The most severe manifestation of chronic intoxication is psychosis, often clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia. This is rare with oral amphetamines, but amphetamines are often injected when abused.


The biological half life of a substance is the time it takes for a drug to lose half of its pharmacologic activity. This is significant because it affects how soon withdrawal symptoms may appear.

The half life of Dexedrine is about 12 hours, although it can be considerably longer – up to 28 hours – depending on your metabolism and other factors.

Amphetamines and amphetamine derivatives are known to be metabolized, to some degree, by cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) and display minor inhibition of CYP2D6 metabolism.

The CYP enzymes are the major enzymes involved in drug metabolism, and since many drugs may increase or decrease the activity of various CYP isozymes, this is a major source of adverse drug interactions, since changes in CYP enzyme activity may affect the metabolism and clearance of various drugs. For example, if one drug inhibits the CYP-mediated metabolism of another drug, the second drug may accumulate within the body to toxic levels, possibly causing an overdose.


The following side effects are taken from the Dexedrine label:

  • alopecia – the partial or complete loss of hair—especially on the scalp—either in patches (alopecia areata), on the entire head (alopecia totalis), or over the entire body (alopecia universalis)
  • anorexia
  • cardiomyopathy – associated with chronic amphetamine use
  • changes in libido
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dryness of the mouth
  • dyskinesia – abnormal or impaired voluntary movement
  • dysphoria – a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life
  • elevation of blood pressure
  • euphoria
  • exacerbation of motor and phonic tics
  • frequent or prolonged erections
  • gastrointestinal disturbances
  • headache
  • impotence
  • insomnia
  • overstimulation
  • palpitations
  • psychotic episodes at recommended doses (rare)
  • restlessness
  • Rhabdomyolysis – a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle breaks down rapidly. Symptoms may include muscle pains, weakness, vomiting, and confusion. … Some of the muscle breakdown products, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure.
  • tachycardia – abnormally rapid heart rate
  • Tourette’s syndrome – a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary tics and vocalizations and often the compulsive utterance of obscenities.
  • tremor
  • unpleasant taste
  • urticaria – hives, a rash of round, red welts on the skin that itch intensely, sometimes with dangerous swelling
  • weight loss
  • growth inhibition 

It should be noted that anyone with a pre-existing condition involving the heart, cardiovascular system, or any behavioral problems, may have their symptoms exacerbated when using Dexedrine. The drug could also worsen behavior disturbances, thought disorders, motor and phonic tics, Tourette’s syndrome, and acute stress reactions.


The severity of withdrawal symptoms, how long they will last, and how quickly they will start after you stop taking Dexedrine depends on the dosage you’ve been taking, for how long and how often, as well as how you personally respond to the drug and withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms include;

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • changes in the sleep EEG
  • chills
  • extreme fatigue
  • hunger
  • inability to sleep followed by increased need for sleep
  • increased need for sleep
  • irritability
  • lack of interest in socialization
  • low energy
  • mental depression
  • muscle aches
  • psychotic symptoms (paranoia, disordered thoughts, hallucinations)
  • seizures
  • strong cravings for the drug
  • thirst
  • vivid dreams

Other withdrawal symptoms may last for one or two months. These include:

  • continued drug cravings
  • difficulty making good decisions
  • irritability
  • issues managing emotions
  • lack of interest in socialization
  • low energy
  • mental depression
  • mood swings
  • muscle aches
  • ongoing fatigue
  • poor memory
  • problems with concentration and attention
  • psychotic symptoms (paranoia, disordered thoughts, hallucinations)
  • seizures
  • strong cravings for the drug
  • thirst
  • unstable sleep patterns
  • vivid dreams


Although everyone reacts to drugs in different ways, chances are withdrawal symptoms will be less for someone who has taken Dexedrine for a short time and as directed than for someone who has taken it for a long time, has used high doses, or has binged on the drug. The best option is to work with a medical professional to work out how you are going to get off the drug.