Dextroamphetamine is a stimulant used to treat Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Always consult your doctor or healthcare provider before using dextroamphetamine, as it can have serious side effects and is classified as a drug of abuse.

Dextroamphetamine brand names

Dextroamphetamine is available under the names:

  • Dexedrine
  • Dexedrine Spansules
  • Dextrostat
  • Liquadd
  • ProCentra
  • Zenzedi

What is dextroamphetamine prescribed for?

Dextroamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. It is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults, where individuals have trouble focusing and remaining quiet/still. It is also used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder where the patient experiences excessive daytime sleepiness. [1]

How does dextroamphetamine work?

Dextroamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. It exerts its action in the brain by raising the levels of chemicals that improve attention, behavior, and alertness. Increased levels of norepinephrine and dopamine result in better focus and decreased restlessness. [2]

How is dextroamphetamine usually taken?

The dose, form, and how often you need to take dextroamphetamine depends on the severity of the condition, your age, and how you react to the first dose.

Narcolepsy

Children above 12 years and adults 18 years up
The typical starting dose is 10mg daily, taken in divided doses starting from the morning and then every 4-6 hours.

Depending on the response, the specialist may increase the dose by 10mg per week.

Children ages 6-11 years

The typical starting dose is 5mg daily, taken in divided doses starting from the morning and then every 4-6 hours.

Depending on the response, the specialist may increase the dose by a maximum of 5mg per week.

ADHD

Children from 6 years up and adults

The typical starting dose is 5mg once or twice a day. The first dose is taken upon waking, and if taking a second dose, this should be taken around 4-6 hours later.

Depending on the response, the specialist may increase the dose by no more than 5mg weekly.

Children aged 3-5 years

The typical starting dose is 2.5mg daily. Depending on the response, the specialist may increase the quantity by no more than 2.5mg weekly.

In all cases, the dose must not be stopped suddenly as this may lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Instead, the doctor will guide you on how to taper the amount taken over time if you need to stop the medicine. [3]

 

How long does dextroamphetamine stay in your system?

Several factors determine how long dextroamphetamine stays in your system. These include age, metabolism, body mass, hydration level, health conditions, and physical activity.

Dextroamphetamineusually has an average half-life of 10 to 12 hours.[4] It is generally considered that a drug will go through 5.5 half lifes before it fully leaves a person's body.[12] Based on this, dextroamphetamine will usually have left a person's system after 55 to 66 hours.

Dextroamphetamine side effects

Common side effects can be mild and may go away within a few days or weeks. However, you should discuss this with your doctor if they are more severe and persistent.

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Constipation and upset stomach
  • Unpleasant taste
  • Changes in sex ability and drive

Serious side effects can include the following. You should call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms or call emergency services if your symptoms feel life-threatening.

  • Dizziness
  • Slow or difficulty speaking
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Increased suspicions of other people
  • Fever and sweating
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Verbal tics
  • Increase in agitation
  • Diarrhea, nausia, or vomiting
  • Muscle stiffness, pain, twitching, or shivering.

This is not a complete list of side effects. If you experience any unexpected effects or changes after taking dextroamphetamine, you should speak with a medical professional.[5]

Dextroamphetamine precautions

You should always inform your doctor if you are allergic to dextroamphetamine, a related stimulant prescription drug such as lisdexamfetamine or amphetamine, or any other ingredient.

Before starting the medication, your doctor will most likely take a detailed medical history. You should alert them if you have a history of any of the following:

  • Severe agitation or psychosis
  • A personal or family history of mood disorders, e.g., depression, bipolar disorder; suicidal thoughts
  • Previous or ongoing substance dependence
  • Tics, or uncontrolled movements, which may be present in conditions such as Tourette syndrome
  • Raynaud's phenomenon or other conditions that cause impaired blood circulation
  • Heart problems, including irregular heartbeat, cardiac failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiac valve problems
  • Family history of heart problems, including sudden death due to cardiac issues
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye)[1]

Dextroamphetamine can make you dizzy, and its use with alcohol and marijuana can worsen this effect. It is dangerous to conduct activities that require alertness, focus, or the use of machinery while under the influence of alcohol and marijuana with dextroamphetamine. Alcohol use should be limited, and your doctor should be alerted of marijuana use.[13]

Younger patients may experience slowed growth with dextroamphetamine and be more sensitive to side effects, especially weight loss. In addition, a child’s weight and height should be monitored, and the treatment may need to be stopped or used only periodically.[1]

The use of dextroamphetamine during pregnancy should be limited to when its benefits are considered to outweigh any potential risks. Sometimes infants born to mothers taking dextroamphetamine may be premature and have a low birth weight. They may also have habituated to the medicine and suffer withdrawal symptoms after birth. The same can happen with breastfeeding infants, so breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment with dextroamphetamine.[6]

Dextroamphetamine interactions

Avoid taking vitamin C or drinking fruit juices within one hour of taking your dose of dextroamphetamine, as these may decrease the absorption of the medicine.

Some drugs can also interact with dextroamphetamine, altering how it works and possibly increasing the risk of side effects. It is best to check with your doctor before starting any new medicine. Some possible interactions include:

  • Drugs that increase acid levels, e.g., reserpine
  • Drugs that alter serotonin levels, e.g., fluoxetine, lithium, buspirone
  • Beta blockers, e.g., atenolol, metoprolol, nadolol
  • Seizure drugs, e.g., ethosuximide, phenobarbital, phenytoin
  • Haloperidol
  • Chlorpromazine

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) may cause severe and possibly fatal side effects if taken with dextroamphetamine. Additionally, they should not be taken for two weeks before treatment with this medication.[7]

Dextroamphetamine storage

This medication should be stored in the container it came in at room temperature (68 F to 77 F). The container should be closed tightly and kept in a cool, dry place away from excess heat, light, or moisture.

Medications should always be kept out of sight and reach of children. Dispose of any unused or expired medication safely by taking it to the pharmacy. Always keep track of your medicine container/s since this is a drug that has potential for misuse. This medicine has been prescribed for you and should not be shared with anyone else. Be especially aware if individuals with a history of drug use disorders or addiction are around your medicine.

What to do if you overdose on dextroamphetamine

If you, or someone you know, has had an overdose of dextroamphetamine, you should call the poison control center or emergency medical services immediately. Stimulants like dextroamphetamine have caused heart problems (including heart attack), stroke, coma, and sudden death.

Symptoms of overdose include

  • restlessness, tremors, muscle twitching, muscle pain or weakness
  • rapid breathing
  • confusion
  • panic
  • hallucinations
  • aggressiveness
  • dark-colored urine
  • stomach pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • uneven heartbeats
  • light-headedness

Depression and tiredness often follow these symptoms. [8]

Frequently asked questions about dextroamphetamine

How long does dextroamphetamine take to kick in?

Immediate release dextroamphetamine starts to work between 20 minutes to one hour after ingesting the tablet, with a peak effect being felt between 1 and 2 hours after being taken. Extended release medication can take 60 to minutes to kick in.  [9]

Dextroamphetamine vs Adderall: What’s the difference?

Dextroamphetamine and Adderall are both stimulant drugs used to treat Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Both drugs are thought to work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which helps to improve focus and concentration. Adderall is a mix of two different amphetamine salts (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine), while dextroamphetamine is just one form of amphetamine. Both drugs are very similar in terms of their effects. Still, individuals will respond to different medications in varying ways. It is not possible to know which would be the more successful treatment without trying. [10]

What does dextroamphetamine look like?

Different brands of dextroamphetamine will look different.

The generic tablets of dextroamphetamine sulphate are either orange-peach, round, flat-faced, beveled edge tablets with “5” embossed on one side; or pink-peach, round, flat-faced, beveled edge tablets with “10” embossed on one side. Both tablets are scored on the plain side.

Dexedrine 5mg tablets are pink, round, and debossed with “cor” and “215” on one side and “Bisect” on the other. The 10mg tablets look the same, except with “Quadrisect” debossed on one side. [11]

Resources:

  1. Dextroamphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605027.html
  2. Dextroamphetamine: Basics, Side Effects & Reviews. (n.d.). GoodRx. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.goodrx.com/dextroamphetamine/what-is
  3. Dextroamphetamine Dosage. (n.d.). Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/dosage/dextroamphetamine.html
  4. Mandelbaum, D. E. (2017). Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder. Swaiman’s Pediatric Neurology, 447–458. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-323-37101-8.00056-4
  5. Dextroamphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605027.html
  6. Dextroamphetamine Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings. (n.d.). Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/pregnancy/dextroamphetamine.html
  7. Dextroamphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605027.html
  8. Dextroamphetamine Uses, Side Effects & Warnings—Drugs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.drugs.com/mtm/dextroamphetamine.html#faq
  9. Moses, S., MD. (2022, October 29). Dextroamphetamine. https://fpnotebook.com/peds/Pharm/Dxtrmphtmn.htm
  10. Dexedrine vs. Adderall: Comparison—Mental Health Daily. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/06/06/dexedrine-vs-adderall-comparison/
  11.  Cor 215 Pill (Pink/Round)—Pill Identifier. (n.d.). Drugs.Com. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.drugs.com/imprints/cor-215-22099.html
  12. What do you mean by the half life of a drug? (n.d.). Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/medical-answers/what-do-you-mean-by-the-half-life-of-a-drug-458946/
  13. Forney, R., Martz, R., Lemberger, L., & Rodda, B. (1976). The combined effect of marihuana and dextroamphetamine. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 281, 162–170. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1976.tb27928.x