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How Does Dexedrine Compare to Adderall?

Dexedrine and Adderall are fairly similar medications that are both used to treat attention disorders and to increase focus. Both brands contain similar ingredients, causing the same set of effects and side effects. Both drugs can also be dangerous when they are abused, causing chemical dependence, withdrawal, and potentially harmful physical and psychological side effects.

Learn more about Dexedrine and Adderall and their potential adverse effects.

What is Dexedrine?

Dexedrine is a brand name for a prescription medication that’s used to treat attention deficit disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dexedrine contains a specific amphetamine called dextroamphetamine (or d-amphetamine).

This active ingredient is in the broad category of central nervous system stimulants. Drugs in this category work to increase excitability, alertness, and energized feelings in the central nervous system. Other stimulants include caffeine, nicotine, and cocaine.

Dexedrine is also sometimes used as a cognitive performance enhancer by both students and athletes. The drug is able to increase focus and quick thinking. This can lead to its abuse by students who are trying to pull all-nighters or score higher on tests.  Abuse can lead to dependence, addiction, and medical problems.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is also a brand name for a prescription ADHD medication that contains amphetamines. While Dexedrine contains d-amphetamine, Adderall contains this and another type called levoamphetamine (l-amphetamine).

Adderall is arguably the most commonly known amphetamine medication, and it’s popular as a therapeutic treatment for attention and focus problems. However, it’s also commonly abused on college campuses for its ability to increase wakefulness, alertness, and focus. Both Adderall and Dexedrine can potentially help users retain more information during study periods.

However, Adderall abuse can be dangerous when it’s abused or taken without consulting a doctor. Amphetamines are especially dangerous for people who are prone to heart disease or heart rate abnormalities.

How They Are Similar

Both Dexedrine and Adderall are synthetic amphetamines and central nervous stimulants. They work in the brain and body in similar ways, particularly by increasing the effectiveness of certain chemical messengers in the brain.

Neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are all affected by amphetamines like Dexedrine and Adderall. These brain chemicals serve a variety of functions, but they are closely tied to feelings of excitement, reward, and motivation.

People with attention deficit disorders may have problems where their brains don’t release enough of these rewarding chemicals, so their brains look for other sources of rewards, especially during tedious tasks. That’s why they may struggle with resisting distractions.

An Adderall pill in a palm

Both Dexedrine and Adderall increase the efficiency of rewarding chemicals, allowing for increased focus and alertness. 

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How They Are Different

Adderall and Dexedrine have similar but different chemical combinations in each medication. There are two types of amphetamines that have been approved for the treatment of attention deficit disorders: d-amphetamine and l-amphetamine. Dexedrine contains d-amphetamine while Adderall contains a mix of both types of amphetamine. Though they are similar, d-amphetamine is considered to be the stronger of the two different types. 

Both Are Dangerous When Abused

Abusing amphetamines like Adderall and Dexedrine can be potentially dangerous and even life-threatening in some cases. Frequent use and high doses can cause chemical dependence and withdrawal. Abuse can lead to insomnia when you’re using the drug and extreme fatigue if you skip a dose or try to cut back. Abusing these stimulants can also have a negative impact on your mental health. People who use them for long periods of time may experience anxiety, loss of sleep, depression, and even psychosis. Psychosis is more likely if you use an amphetamine for many days in a row without getting any or very much sleep.
Amphetamine abuse can also cause some adverse effects that can impact your heart and brain. High doses can cause tachycardia, arrhythmias, hypertension, and heart attack.

Adderall and Dexedrine Abuse Treatment

Addiction is a chronic disease that can be difficult to overcome. However, substance use disorders that are related to Adderall and Dexedrine use can be treated effectively. Stimulants like these medications aren’t known to cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, but they can have some unpleasant effects. Withdrawal is characterized by fatigue, general discomfort, depression, anxiety, and compelling drug cravings. In extreme cases, withdrawal can cause suicidal thoughts or actions.

When you first enter a treatment program, you’ll go through an intake process to help determine the right level of care for your needs. Though you aren’t likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms, you may go through medical detox if you have high-level medical needs. Detox involves 24-hour medically managed care.

After detox, you can continue to get high-level medical care in an inpatient treatment program.

Family discussing stimulant abuse treatment

If you’re ready to live on your own, you may continue to an intensive outpatient treatment program with more than nine hours of treatment services each week.

If you are ready, you may go through an outpatient program, which is the lowest level of care in addiction treatment. 

Get Help For Your Amphetamine Addiction Now

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder that’s related to Dexedrine or Adderall, it’s important to seek help as soon as you recognize the problem. Amphetamines can cause tolerance, dependence, and addiction with repeated use.

Addiction is a chronic disease that often gets worse when it’s ignored. You may believe you have a substance use problem under control, but it may start to take over different parts of your life before long. Getting addiction treatment as soon as possible can help you to avoid some of the most costly consequences of addiction like long-term health problems.  Start addressing your addiction today by learning more about amphetamines like Adderall and Dexedrine, and how they can be treated. 


Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Substance Abuse / Chemical Dependency. Retrieved from

ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Levoamphetamine. Retrieved from

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019, September 11). Dextroamphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Retrieved from

Vasan, S. (2018, November 22). Amphetamine Toxicity. Retrieved from

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