Dexedrine is a stimulant medication used to treat ADHD in children and adults. Learn about its uses, side effects, dosages, and warnings here.
Generic Name: dextroamphetamine sulfate
- What is Dexedrine?
- Dexedrine vs. Adderall
- Dexedrine Dosage Information
- Dexedrine Side Effects
- Dexedrine Precautions
- Dexedrine Interactions
Dexedrine (Generic Name: dextroamphetamine sulfate) is a long- or short-acting capsule, taken orally, that is primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) in children ages 3-12, adolescents, and adults. According to the US. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dexedrine is a federally controlled substance (“Schedule II Stimulant”) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. It is an amphetamine.
Dexedrine may improve focus and decrease impulsivity and hyperactive behavior, hallmark symptoms for some patients with ADHD.
Dexedrine is also used to treat narcolepsy.
Dexedrine Vs. Adderall
Dexedrine is the brand name for dextroamphetamine sulfate; Adderall is the brand name for dextroamphetamine/levoamphetamine salts. Both are stimulant medications prescribed to treat ADHD. They both contain forms of the synthetic compound amphetamine, which is a central nervous system stimulant. The two active forms of the synthetic compound amphetamine are dextro(d)-amphetamine and levo(l)-amphetamine, and d-amphetamine is considered stronger.
Dexedrine contains d-amphetamine, while Adderall contains a 3:1 mixture of immediate-release d-amphetamine and l-amphetamine. Dexedrine and Adderall typically share the same side effects and are classified as Schedule II drugs by the FDA, meaning they carry a high risk of abuse and addiction.
What Is the Best Dosage of Dexedrine?
Short-acting Dexedrine tablets are taken two to three times daily. The tablets are available in 5mg doses. The first dose is typically taken first thing in the morning; tablets should be taken at the same time each day for the best results.
The long-acting Dexedrine capsule is taken once daily, in the morning. 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg doses are available. The time-release formulation is designed to maintain a steady level of medication in your body throughout the day.
As with all medications, follow your Dexedrine prescription instructions exactly. The optimal dosage varies widely by patient; it is not determined by age, weight, or height, but rather by how a person metabolizes the medication.
During treatment, your doctor may periodically ask you to stop taking your Dexedrine so that they can monitor ADHD symptoms; check vital statistics including blood, heart, and blood pressure; or evaluate height and weight. If any problems are found, your doctor may recommend discontinuing treatment.
Some patients report developing a tolerance to Dexedrine after long-term usage. If you notice that your dosage is no longer controlling your symptoms, talk to your doctor to plan a course of action.
Before starting or refilling a Dexedrine prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.
This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.
What Are the Side Effects of Dexedrine?
Most people taking Dexedrine do not experience side effects. That said, the most common side effects of Dexedrine are as follows:
- irregular heartbeat
- decreased appetite
- sleep disruptions
- stomach upset
- weight loss
- dry mouth
Serious Side Effects of Dexedrine:
- changes in eyesight
- There has been some concern that stimulants may cause a slowing of growth in children and adolescents, however research findings are mixed. Some studies show no impact on growth at all,1 while others find what is considered “negligible” slowing of growth.2 If you find evidence of suppressed growth in your child, talk to your doctor about what steps might help.
Dexedrine and Driving
Dexedrine may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor. Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.
Dexedrine and Heart- or Blood-Pressure Related Problems
Report to your doctor any heart-related problems or a family history of heart and blood pressure problems. Patients with structural cardiac abnormalities and other serious heart problems have experienced sudden death, stroke, heart attack, and increased blood pressure while taking Dexedrine. Amphetamines can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Physicians should monitor these vital signs closely during treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Dexedrine.
Dexedrine and Familial Mental Health
Also disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, bipolar illness, tics, or depression. The FDA recommends evaluating patients for bipolar disorder, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome prior to stimulant administration. Dexedrine may create new or exacerbate existing behavior problems, bipolar illness, or Tourette’s syndrome. It can cause psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teenagers. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including hallucinations or sudden suspicions.
Dexedrine and Circulation Problems
Discuss circulation problems with your doctor before taking Dexedrine, which has been known to cause numbness, coolness, or pain in fingers or toes, including Raynaud’s phenomenon. Report to your doctor any new blood-flow problems, pain, skin color changes, or sensitivities to temperature while taking Dexedrine.
Dexedrine and Substance Abuse
Amphetamines like Dexedrine have a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially among people who do not have ADHD. It is a “Schedule II Stimulant,” a designation that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for drugs with a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule II drugs include Adderall, Ritalin, and cocaine. People with a history of drug abuse should use caution when trying this medication. Taking the medication exactly as prescribed can reduce potential for abuse.
The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
Who Can Take Dexedrine? Medication Precautions
You should not take Dexedrine if you:
- Have an existing heart condition or hardening of the arteries
- Have high blood pressure
- Have glaucoma
- Are very anxious, tense, or agitated
- Have a history of drug or alcohol abuse
- Have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within 14 days
- Have an allergy to amphetamines, other stimulant medications, or other ingredients in Dexedrine
You should use caution taking Dexedrine if you have bipolar disorder, tics or Tourette’s syndrome, thyroid problems, seizures, or circulation problems.
If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Dexedrine with your doctor. Animal studies indicate a potential risk of fetal harm. Dexedrine is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.
Store Dexedrine in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Dexedrine prescription with anyone, even another person with ADHD. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.
What Are the Interactions Associated with Dexedrine?
Before taking Dexedrine, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Dexedrine can have a dangerous, possibly fatal, interaction with antidepressants including MAOIs.
Exercise caution with medicines that are known to interact with amphetamines including lithium, seizure medications, blood pressure medications, stomach acid medications — like antacids — and cold or allergy medicines that contain decongestants. Even over-the-counter medications may contain ingredients that raise or lower the level of the medication in your blood to a dangerous level. Speak with your doctor about all other prescription and over-the-counter medications you take.
Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, and let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Dexedrine before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interact
Dexedrine and Other ADHD Medications: More Information
- Read: Dexedrine: ADHD Medication FAQ
- Download: The Complete Guide to ADHD Medications
- Read: A Parent’s Guide to ADHD Medications
- Find: ADDitude Directory: Find ADHD Specialists or Clinics Near You
1Pediatrics (2014.) “ADHD, Stimulant Treatment, and Growth: A Longitudinal Study.” https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/134/4/e935/77034/ADHD-Stimulant-Treatment-and-Growth-A-Longitudinal
2Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2019.) “Trajectories of Growth Associated With Long-Term Stimulant Medication in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” https://www.jaacap.org/article/S0890-8567(19)31443-1/fulltext
3Dexedrine. Food and Drug Administration (2007) http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/017078s042lbl.pdf
4Dexedrine. American Addiction Centers (2019). https://americanaddictioncenters.org/dexedrine
5Label for Dexedrine. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/017078s049lbl.pdf
6How Are Dexedrine and Adderall Different? Medical News Today (2018) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321565