Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) is a psychostimulant which is known to produce increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite. It is perhaps the archetypal psycho-stimulant. Study pills with similar psychoactive properties are often referred to or described as “amphetamine analogues”, “amphetamine-like”, or having “amphetaminergic” effects. Enantiomerically pure dextroamphetamine is more powerful than racemic amphetamine and has stimulant properties that are similar to those of methamphetamine, but is slightly less potent.
Prescribed for weight loss, depression, fatigue, concentration problems and for nightshift workers and as a study aid.
Though such use remains out of the mainstream, dextroamphetamine has been successfully applied in the treatment of certain categories of depression as well as other psychiatric syndromes. Such alternate uses include reduction of fatigue in cancer patients, antidepressant treatment for HIV patients with depression and debilitating fatigue, and early stage physiotherapy for severe stroke victims. If physical therapy patients take dextroamphetamine while they practice their movements for rehabilitation, they learn to move much faster than without dextroamphetamine, and in practice sessions with shorter lengths.
Along with Adderall and Ritalin, non-prescription use of dextroamphetamine has been reported for the feeling of elation (euphoria) and for use as a study aid, social aid and party drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a large percentage of American college students reported illicit stimulant use in 2004.
Priscilla Presley used it after Elvis gave it to her to stay awake during class.
The English pop group Dexys Midnight Runners were named after Dexedrine, which was popularly used as a recreational drug among Northern Soul fans at the time.
Johnny Cash is known for having abused dextroamphetamine for the majority of his career. Cash frequently mentions this abuse in his 1997 autobiography.
Waylon Jennings is known to have used Dexedrine during his early career, before switching to cocaine. He describes its use and his addiction in depth in his 1996 autobiography.
In the Beatles Anthology documentary, Paul McCartney says that The Beatles used it during their early days to endure hours of playing at clubs in Hamburg, Germany.
Hugh Hefner has spoken openly about his usage.
Dextroamphetamine treatment along with MAO inhibitors is strongly contraindicated. Treatment should also be avoided in patients suffering from physical health conditions including cardiovascular diseases, hypertensive disease, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma and anorexia.
Treating patients with a substantial history of drug abuse is strongly inadvisable. However, it has been reported that people with undiagnosed adult ADD may actually abstain from further drug abuse, as they may have been self-medicating in order to control their undiagnosed ADD.
Caution should be taken when treating chronically depressed or bipolar patients for an irrelevant condition, as in depressed patients the initial psychological state of pride and optimism with an absence of depression may provoke abuse, while bipolar patients could go into a manic state.
Dexedrine use, either for recreational or medical use, can induce many different effects as shown below. In general any negative effects are increased with an increasing dosage amount. If used at standard medical dosages, there are relativly few serious associated adverse effects. (Unless dextroamphetamine is contraindicated with another drug one is taking.)
Physical effects of dextroamphetamine can include a reduced appetite, anorexia, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, flushing, restlessness, dry mouth, headache, tachycardia, bradycardia, tachypnea, hypertension, fever, diaphoresis, diarrhea, constipation, blurred vision, aphasia, dizziness, twitches, insomnia, numbness, palpitations, arrhythmias and tremors. In high doses or chronic use convulsions, dry or itchy skin, acne, pallor can occur. With high chronic dosages, a myocardial infarction (heart attack) can occur.
Psychological effects of dextroamphetamine can include anxiety (by increased norepinephrine), euphoria (by increased dopamine), altered libido, increased awareness, alertness, concentration, energy, excitability, sociability, irritability, aggression, psychomotor agitation, self-confidence, feeling of power or superiority, repetitive behaviors, paranoia and typically in high doses and/or chronic use, amphetamine psychosis. A serene calming sensation (in association with bradycardia) can also be induced by dextroamphetamine.
Withdrawal symptoms from Dexedrine primarily consist of mental fatigue, mental depression and an increased appetite. Symptoms may last for days with occasional abuse and weeks or months with chronic abuse or chronic medicinal use with severity dependant on the length of time and the size of doses taken. Withdrawal symptoms may also include anxiety, agitation, excessive sleep, vivid or lucid dreams (deep REM sleep), suicidal thoughts and psychosis.