Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) in children and adults, and narcolepsy (loss of the brain's ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally). Dexedrine has potential for abuse and should only be used as prescribed.
- What is a safe dose of this medication?
- ADHD: For adults, initially a 5 mg dose is given two times a day, which can be increased each week by 10 mg according to response. The maximum dose, however, should only exceed 40 mg a day under rare circumstances and only after consulting a physician. For children three to six years old, a dose of 2.5 mg should be taken in the morning. Dosage may be increased by 2.5 mg each week, but should not exceed 40 mg per day total. Additionally, it is best to divide dosage at higher levels with about four to six hours in between each dose. For children older than six, an initial dose of 5 mg may be given and dosage may be increased weekly by 5 mg. Total intake should not exceed 40 mg per day.
- Narcolepsy: This condition is rare for children younger than 12. For adults, a 10 mg dose is administered two to three times a day and it can be increased by 10 mg weekly. Maximum dose should not exceed 60 mg per day. For elderly individuals, a dose of 5 mg is given two to three times a day to maintain sleep cycle.
- Is this drug safe to use if I am pregnant?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designates this drug as a pregnancy category C medication, which means studies during animal pregnancies have indicated a risk of adverse effects for the fetus. However, some conditions for which this drug is prescribed may be of greater risk to the mother and fetus. All possible treatments should be weighed by you and your doctor before using this drug if you are pregnant or become pregnant during treatment.
Find a Therapist
Dexedrine has a bioavailability of 75% to 100% (when taken orally). It is well-absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and undergoes metabolism in the liver. It has a half-life of 10 to 12 hours (dependent upon the pH level of the urine) after which it is excreted in the urine. About 15% to 40% of Dexedrine is bound to plasma protein.
- Are there ways to get more out of my treatment with this drug?
If you are prescribed this medication for ADHD treatment, consider finding a therapist or counselor with whom you can develop a therapeutic relationship. A therapist may be able to help you regulate your behavioral and emotional responses to symptoms associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity. Additionally, therapists can help you better understand what you are experiencing, help you develop a good self-care routine to mitigate symptoms, and teach you healthy coping strategies when symptoms manifest or become triggered.
Dexedrine, like many other psychostimulants, may cause a range of side effects. If you experience any of the following side effects, contact your physician to see if your dosage or treatment need adjustment:
- Cardiovascular effects, such as palpitations
- Euphoric “high” feeling
- Higher irritability
- Tics or involuntary movements
- Increased aggression and/or anger
- Logorrhea (disordered speech patterns)
- Skin picking
- Burning or tingling of the skin
- Teeth grinding
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal pain, nausea, and/or constipation
- Impotency, changes in sex drive, or prolonged erections
- Persistent headaches
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
If you are prescribed this drug, ensure that you discuss all medications, vitamins, and supplements you take on a regular basis with your doctor and pharmacist. This medication may interact with the following substances:
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Urinary acidifying agents
This medication may impair performance. You should avoid high-risk tasks like driving, operating heavy machinery, or climbing until you are aware of how this drug will affect you. Dexedrine should be avoided by those experiencing the following conditions:
- Structural cardiac abnormalities
- History of epilepsy
- Tourette syndrome
- Individuals with history of drug abuse
Dexedrine is a non-catecholamine, sympathomimetic amine and has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system. It is a dextrorotary isomer of amphetamine. It exists as a crystalline powder that is white in color. Dexedrine is odorless and bitter in taste. It is freely soluble in water and slightly soluble in alcohol.
This drug has high potential for abuse and dependency. Because of this, if you need to stop taking this medication you should develop a safe plan with your health care provider to taper down your dosage and reduce the occurrence and severity of withdrawal symptoms. In general, the longer you take this medication and the higher your dose, the more discomfort you will experience during withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal may include:
- Nissen SE. ADHD drugs and cardiovascular risk. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006; 354:1445-1448.
- Asherson P. Clinical assessment and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. 2005; 5:525-539.
- Williams RJ, Goodale LA, Shay-Fiddler MA, et al. Methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine abuse in substance-abusing adolescents. American Journal on Addictions. 2004;13(4):381-389.
- Wilens T. Data presented at symposium at the 158th Annual American Psychiatric Association Meeting; May 21, 2005.
- Biederman J. Pharmacotherapy for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) decreases the risk for substance abuse: findings from a longitudinal follow-up of youth with and without ADHD. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2003;64(suppl 11):3-8
Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND.