Drug Guide


By Anthony McDaniel, M.D.

Dextroamphetamine is a psychostimulant drug which is known to produce increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and decreased appetite. Drugs with similar psychoactive properties can be referred to or described as "amphetamine analogues", "amphetamine-like", or having "amphetaminergic" effects. Enantiomerically pure dextroamphetamine is more potent than racemic amphetamine and has stimulant properties similar to racemic methamphetamine, though less potent and less neurotoxic. Dextroamphetamine is the dextrorotary, or "right-handed", stereoisomer of the amphetamine molecule. The amphetamine molecule has two stereoisomers; levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Names for dextroamphetamine include d-amphetamine, dexamphetamine, dexamfetamine, and (S)-(+)-amphetamine, with brand names to include Dexedrine and Dextrostat. It is the active metabolite of the prodrug, lisdexamfetamine, known by its brand name Vyvanse (marketed by Shire). The dextroamphetamine salts constitute 50% of the ADHD drug Adderall, which consists of racemic d,l-amphetamine. In addition, dextroamphetamine is an active metabolite of several older N-substituted amphetamine prodrugs used as anorectics, such as clobenzorex (Asenlix), benzphetamine (Didrex), and amphetaminil (Aponeuron).

Physical side effects of dextroamphetamine use can include anorexia, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, flushing, restlessness, dry mouth, bruxism, headache, tachycardia, bradycardia, tachypnea, hypertension, hypotension, fever, diaphoresis, constipation, blurred vision, aphasia, dizziness, twitching, insomnia, numbness, palpitations, arrhythmias, epistaxis, tremors, dry and/or itchy skin, acne, pallor, convulsions, seizure, stroke, coma, heart attack and death can occur while using Dextroamphetamines. Psychological effects can include euphoria, anxiety, increased libido, alertness, concentration, energy, self-esteem, self-confidence, sociability, irritability, aggression, psychosomatic disorders, psychomotor agitation, grandiosity, excessive feelings of power and invincibility, repetitive and obsessive behaviors, paranoia, and with chronic and/or high doses, amphetamine psychosis can occur. Withdrawal symptoms of dextroamphetamine primarily consist of mental fatigue, mental depression and an increased appetite. Symptoms may last for days with occasional use and weeks or months with chronic use, with severity dependent on the length of time and the amount of dextroamphetamine used. Withdrawal symptoms may also include anxiety, agitation, excessive sleep, vivid or lucid dreams, deep REM sleep and suicidal ideation.

The fatal dose in humans is not precisely known, but in various species of rat generally ranges between 50 and 100 mg/kg, or a factor of 100 over what is required to produce noticeable psychological effects. Although the symptoms seen in a fatal overdose are similar to those of methamphetamine, their mechanisms are not identical, as some substances which inhibit dextroamphetamine toxicity do not do so for methamphetamine. An extreme symptom of overdose is amphetamine psychosis, characterized by vivid visual, auditory, and sometimes tactile hallucinations. Many of its symptoms are identical to the psychosis-like state which follows long-term sleep deprivation, so it remains unclear whether these are solely the effects of the drug, or due to the long periods of sleep deprivation which are often undergone by the chronic user. Amphetamine psychosis, however, is extremely rare in individuals taking oral amphetamines at therapeutic doses; it is usually seen in cases of prolonged or high-dose intravenous (IV) for non-medicinal uses.

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