Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that occurs in childhood and adolescence. In isolated cases, the condition can last through to adulthood. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and ADHD were initially considered separate conditions, but today, the term ADHD includes ADD.
Typically, the symptoms of ADHD include:
- Hyperactivity and impulsive behavior
- Easily distracted by external stimuli
- Difficulty maintaining attention or focus
- A combination of inattention and impulsive behavior
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Psychotherapy, education, and behavior training can be effective for most people struggling with ADHD. However, holistically treating ADHD often involves the use of medications. Before considering these medications, you should be aware of the FDA boxed warning indicating that “Misusing amphetamine may lead to sudden death and acute cardiovascular adverse reactions.” Therefore, doctors who prescribe medications from this drug class will often screen you for potential heart problems. Depending on the healthcare provider, they may obtain a baseline EKG before starting you on any stimulant medication.
What Is the Best Medicine for ADHD?
Dexedrine is a common psychostimulant medicine used to treat ADHD. Like all other stimulant medicines, Dexedrine acts on your central nervous system to improve your brain’s neurotransmitters. The boost of dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters helps improve focus and concentration and reduces impulsive behaviors and hyperactivity.
Dexedrine is composed entirely of dextroamphetamine, and it’s available in tablets and capsules known as Dexedrine Spansule. Dexedrine tablets are usually short-acting and are effective for about four to six hours. Doctors often prescribed them to be taken twice or thrice per day.
Spansule is extended-release, making it typically effective for 8 to 12 hours. When you take the capsule, a first dose is released promptly, and the rest of the medication is released gradually. That’s why it’s taken only once per day.
Two types of stimulant medications are often prescribed to treat ADHD:
Dexedrine, Vyvanse, and Adderall are all amphetamines. Ritalin and Focalin, on the other hand, are part of the methylphenidate drug family.
The manufacturers of Dexedrine and other stimulant medications also list various contraindications, which include:
- Advanced arteriosclerosis
- Moderate to severe hypertension
- Symptomatic cardiovascular disease
- Known hypersensitivity
- Idiosyncrasy to the sympathomimetic amines
- Agitated states
Dexedrine Vs. Adderall
Dextroamphetamine, amphetamine (Adderall), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) are stimulants that act on the central nervous system. They are approved for treating ADHD and narcolepsy (a neurological condition associated with severe daytime drowsiness). These medications are more stimulating than methylphenidate (Ritalin), which is the first drug doctors often prescribe for ADHD treatment. However, there are variations in individual experiences that have been reported for each medication.
When prescribed and used correctly, both Dexedrine and Adderall medications can help people with ADHD to improve focus. Because they contain amphetamines, both medicines are sometimes abused. Moreover, tolerance and dependence may develop over time, and that’s why both substances have been reported to exhibit a high potential for abuse.
Is Dexedrine Stronger Than Adderall?
The effectiveness and safety profiles of both Adderall and Dexedrine are relatively similar. However, because each patient responds differently to medication, you may discover that your attention improves with one drug compared to the other. Your physician may put you on one stimulant medication and then the other to figure out which one is more effective.
You may also exhibit side effects with one drug and not with the other. You should discover within several days of commencing a new medication whether it’s more effective than the other and how well you tolerate the side effects.
Generally, Adderall is more widely prescribed than Dexedrine, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do just fine or even better on Dexedrine. Make sure your doctor assesses your complete medical history to make an informed recommendation.
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What Does Dexamphetamine Do for ADHD?
While the actual mechanism of action for Dexamphetamine is unknown, the medication is believed to work in two ways. First, it is believed that the drug causes neurotransmitters to last longer in the brain areas that control alertness and attention. They are also believed to increase neurotransmitters’ concentration, the chemicals that send signals between different brain cells. By making these parts of the brain more active, the drugs can help someone with ADHD focus their attention. Besides, stimulants can help calm someone with ADHD.
Forms and Doses of Dexedrine
Dextroamphetamine is usually taken in tablet form once a day. However, sometimes it may be prescribed to be taken twice (or even three times) each day, depending on how well the individual responds to the medication. The drug is FDA approved to treat ADHD in adults and children aged three years and above.
If your physician prescribes Dexedrine, your starting dose will usually be about 2.5 mg to 5 mg per day. However, the dosage may have to be adjusted gradually, as your physician monitors how well the drug is working. Adult doses typically range from 5 mg to 60 mg each day, but children may be given doses ranging from 2.5 mg to 40 mg every day. There are multiple medication strengths and an extended-release form, making the dosage to be easily individualized.
Adderall (Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine) is also started at a low dose, typically 5 mg, and may be adjusted gradually by your doctor. However, the maximum daily dose is typically 40 mg to 60 mg per day. On the other hand, children are often started at 2.5 mg a day and increased progressively to a maximum of 40 mg each day. Again, several strengths and an extended-release form make it easier for doctors to find the correct dose that suits any patient. You will require a written prescription from a qualified doctor to obtain any stimulant drug for ADHD treatment.
Cost of Dexedrine
The cost for a Dexedrine extended-release oral capsule of 5 mg is about $2,212 for a supply of 90 capsules. However, the price may vary widely based on the pharmacy you visit. Dexedrine drugs are also available in generic forms, which are often less expensive than brand-name medications. Be sure to ask your doctor and talk to your pharmacist about the available generic forms.
Side Effects of Dexedrine
The potential side effects of Dexedrine may include raised blood pressure. The rise is usually minor, but if a person has been diagnosed with a heart condition or hypertension, it is essential to discuss these medications’ risks and benefits with a doctor.
These stimulant medications may also cause:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dry mouth
- Urinary symptoms such as burning while urinating
- Loss of appetite
- Palpitations or irregular heartbeats
- Weight loss
- Changes in libido and impotence
- Reduced growth (in children)
In rare cases, dextroamphetamine use may result in alopecia, which is associated with hair loss on the scalp and other body areas.
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Warnings and Interactions
People taking Dexedrine medication should take the lowest dosage possible to avoid a potential overdose. Although rare, these drugs can trigger peripheral vasculopathy, an issue with blood vessels of the hands, fingers, legs, and feet. If your fingers begin to feel numb or cold, or if strange wounds appear on your toes or fingers, consult your doctor immediately.
These drugs may worsen the symptoms if you have a seizure disorder or psychiatric illness. Talk to your doctor about your medical history before taking a stimulant drug. Dexedrine medication also has a high potential for abuse, and prolonged use has been associated with psychological dependence. If you have some history of substance abuse, these drugs may not be appropriate for you.
Potential Drug Interactions
Amphetamines in Dexedrine may interact negatively with multiple other medications. The drug can interfere with the action of anti-seizure medications, such as ethosuximide, phenytoin, and phenobarbital. The drug may also block the sedative effects of antihistamines in allergy medications. Moreover, Antihypertensive drugs may be less effective in lowering blood pressure if you take Dexedrine medication. There is also a risk of complications if you take this ADHD medication and certain antipsychotic or antidepressant drugs.
If you take this stimulant drug with multivitamins, fluoride, or iron, the drug levels may drop and not work as well. Additionally, taking antacids, MAO inhibitors, certain antibiotics, or proton pump inhibitors with Dexedrine medication may cause the drug level to increase.
Overall, if you’re prescribed Dexedrine medication for ADHD treatment, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about any other drugs and over-the-counter medicines you currently take. You should also ask your health providers about any warnings and side effects of the medication.
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