Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) Withdrawal and Treatment
What Is Dextroamphetamine?
Dextroamphetamine is a stimulant drug widely prescribed for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.1 Dextroamphetamine is available by prescription under the brand names Dexedrine and, in combination with amphetamine, as Adderall.2,3 Dextroamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means that the drug is approved for medical use, but it also has a high potential for abuse and dependence.4
The prevalence of nonmedical prescription stimulant abuse comes only second to marijuana among college students who engage in illicit drug use.5
Most individuals who misuse dextroamphetamine do so to:
- Enhance academic performance.
- Increase energy and concentration.
- Induce feelings of euphoria.
- Lose weight.
Chronic dextroamphetamine misuse may lead to dependence and addiction.2 Stimulant dependence develops when the body adapts to the presence of dextroamphetamine and, over time, becomes unable to function optimally without it.2,4 Although dependence is not precisely the same thing as addiction, which is a progressive condition characterized by compulsive drug use, it is commonly present at significant levels in people who do struggle with addiction.4,6
The development of stimulant dependence is most evident when a dextroamphetamine user begins to suffer withdrawal symptoms after suddenly reducing or stopping use.2 While dextroamphetamine withdrawal itself is rarely associated with lethal complications, it can be extremely uncomfortable and make relapse more likely.
Dextroamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms
Suddenly cutting back or quitting dextroamphetamine use after developing significant dependence can result in unpleasant and distressing dextroamphetamine detox symptoms. Dextroamphetamine withdrawal symptoms may include the following:2,3,7
- Intense dextroamphetamine cravings.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Disturbed sleep patterns.
- Anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure).
Throughout withdrawal, many people feel emotionally and physically exhausted, which can make the already unpleasant withdrawal experience even more difficult to bear. In order to get through this difficult time as comfortably as possible, a formal dextroamphetamine detoxification program might be advisable. In such a program, medical and mental health professionals will be able to monitor your withdrawal progress and ensure your safety. They will also be able to prescribe supportive medications when needed, such as sleep aids for insomnia or anti-anxiety medication for severe anxiety.
How Long Does Dextroamphetamine Withdrawal Last?
It is difficult to predict the withdrawal timeline for dextroamphetamine or other stimulants. The duration and severity of stimulant withdrawal depends on many factors, including:
- How your body metabolizes drugs.
- Your recent pattern of dextroamphetamine use.
- Whether you have been using any other drugs.
- Your current physical and mental health condition.
- Your usual mode of dextroamphetamine administration (oral, snorting, or injecting).
Everyone’s dextroamphetamine withdrawal experience will be somewhat unique. While many people may experience predominantly psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, others may develop significantly troublesome physical symptoms such as movement problems, changes in appetite, and fatigue.2,3,7 Still, others will experience a combination of both.
Oftentimes, amphetamines are used in a “binge and crash” pattern, characterized by long runs of high doses of the stimulant followed by a severe comedown off of the high.8,9 Those who engage in this pattern of dextroamphetamine misuse may experience withdrawal symptoms once amphetamine blood levels begin to drop and may require days of rest to recover. These crashes can be accompanied by intense fatigue, depression, and suicidal ideation.4,8,9
In general, the more severe and long-term your dextroamphetamine addiction, the longer you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. Though sources vary somewhat, one could reasonably expect to experience most acute withdrawal symptoms in the range of 3-5 days; however, some may persist for several weeks.9
Dangers of Dextroamphetamine Withdrawal
Acute dextroamphetamine withdrawal sometimes give rise to certain psychological and medical complications, which may increase the danger of detoxing alone. For example, it is relatively common for people experiencing stimulant withdrawal to develop severe depression and suicidal thoughts.9 People at risk for such complications may require the services of a detox program equipped to provide close medical supervision and mental health services, should they be needed. Many drug detox programs have trained mental health professionals on staff who can support you through this challenging time, as well as medical professionals who can provide appropriate interventions to guarantee your physical safety and comfort.
Another serious danger of dextroamphetamine withdrawal is a heightened risk of relapse. Because dextroamphetamine withdrawal often lead to intense drug cravings and other unpleasant symptoms, individuals in early recovery may be at particulate risk of immediate relapse in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.
Furthermore, some people going through dextroamphetamine withdrawal may attempt to self-medicate with other substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids, to alleviate the unwanted symptoms. This can further complicate withdrawal and, should it become a frequent practice, eventually lead to a polydrug addiction.
Dextroamphetamine Withdrawal Treatment
Dextroamphetamine detox can be a challenging process. It can be difficult to remain dedicated to your recovery during a markedly unpleasant withdrawal phase, which is why, in such instances, it is so important to seek professional help. You do not have to go through dextroamphetamine withdrawal alone. If you are ready to start the detoxification process and take the first step on the road to recovery, consider which detox option is right for you.
There is a range of detox settings available and it’s important to have a medical professional evaluate you and your addiction in order to provide you with an appropriate recommendation for detox. The settings include:6
- Inpatient detox: At an inpatient detox program, you will receive 24/7 care for all of your symptoms and will be separated from triggers and your old using environment.
- Outpatient detox: Outpatient detox programs are well-suited for anyone who wants to live at home while going through detox. Most outpatient programs require you to check in daily. Participation in this level of detox may be at the discretion of an evaluating professional, as most intensive levels of care may be recommended for people with relatively severe amphetamine dependence and a higher likelihood of a riskier withdrawal.