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ADHD & Dexedrine

By Charlie Osborne ; Updated August 14, 2017

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, affects children and persists into adulthood. Characterized by symptoms such as the inability to focus, hyperactivity and inattention, ADHD is also a highly treatable mental disorder--typically through therapy combined with medication. Dexedrine is a vanguard medication of ADHD treatment.

A Stimulant Medication

Dexedrine is the trade name for both instant and extended-release formulations of dextroamphetamine sulfate, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. The drug is available by prescription only and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating ADHD in adults as well as in children aged 3 and over. Dexedrine works within the brain by increasing the amount of two naturally-occurring chemicals, dopamine and norepinephrine--neurotransmitters that have a profound impact on mood and behavior. Dexedrine is classified as a central nervous system stimulant drug.

Managing ADHD Symptoms

ADHD is a disorder with many symptoms, all of which are highly dependent on each individual. Common symptoms of ADHD among children and adults include difficulty paying attention in school or at work, daydreaming, the inability to sit still, making inappropriate statements, mood instability, and lack of focus on tasks at hand. It may seem odd that a stimulant medication such as Dexedrine is effective for treating ADHD symptoms like these; however, Dexedrine helps control these symptoms by decreasing restlessness and increasing attention. Stimulants are the most common form of medication used to treat the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults, reports the Stanford School of Medicine--and Dexedrine is among the most widely prescribed.


One advantage of Dexedrine as a treatment for ADHD is the availability of its extended-release formulation, Dexedrine Spansules. A person with ADHD can take one of these pills in the morning, allowing symptom management for the duration of the work or school day. Although the prescribing physician may determine a second dose of extended- or instant-release Dexedrine is necessary to continue ADHD symptom management through the later hours of the afternoon and evening, having to take fewer pills makes living with ADHD easier. Another key benefit of ADHD treatment with Dexedrine is that the medication--along with other members of the stimulant family such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) and mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall, Adderall XR)--has a long history of medical research to support its effectiveness as an ADHD treatment.

Side Effects

Although useful for treating ADHD, Dexedrine may produce unwanted side effects--mainly in children who take the medication, although in adults as well. Long term use of Dexedrine may mildly suppress growth in children; taking "drug holidays"--perhaps over the weekend or summer vacation--can help a child catch up in this area of concern. For both adults and children, Dexedrine can produce unwanted side effects such as dry mouth, irritability, insomnia and appetite suppression. It is crucial to note that dextroamphetamine and other amphetamines have a high potential for abuse, according to the FDA--however, Dexedrine prescriptions cannot be refilled without a new prescription each month and are closely monitored by prescribing physicians and pharmacists.

Comprehensive ADHD Treatment

For treating ADHD, Dexedrine is a well-tested, safe medication. However, in comprehensive ADHD treatment, Dexedrine functions as but one tool within the framework of a multi-faceted therapeutic approach. Dexedrine treats the day-to-day symptoms, yet non-medication methods of treatment such as behavioral and cognitive therapy are essential in conjunction with the use of Dexedrine. Therapists use their expertise to help an individual with ADHD address problems with thinking, improve social skills, and learn to cope with the disorder. Together with such therapy--as well as an open dialogue with the prescribing physician--Dexedrine contributes to an ongoing treatment strategy designed to allow someone with ADHD to cope with the disorder and enjoy a productive life.

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