Man looking at bottles from medicine cabinet

Dextroamphetamine and Adderall are both stimulant medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. While the two drugs share some similarities, they are not the same. In this blog, we’ll delve into the differences between Adderall and dextroamphetamine, explore what the latter is used for and highlight potential side effects.

What is Dextroamphetamine?

Dextroamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Belonging to a class of drugs known as amphetamines, dextroamphetamine is available in various formulations, including immediate-release and extended-release versions.

Dextroamphetamine vs. Adderall

Adderall is a combination medication containing amphetamine salts, including dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, in equal parts. The inclusion of levoamphetamine in Adderall distinguishes it from dextroamphetamine alone.

The primary difference between dextroamphetamine and Adderall lies in their composition. While dextroamphetamine consists solely of the dextro isomer, Adderall contains both the dextro and levo isomers of amphetamine. This difference in composition may result in variations in their effects and side effects.

Dextroamphetamine Side Effects

Like any medication, dextroamphetamine can cause side effects that range from mild to severe. Common side effects of dextroamphetamine may include:

1. Insomnia: Dextroamphetamine’s stimulant properties can interfere with sleep, leading to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

2. Loss of Appetite: Due to its potential to suppress appetite, dextroamphetamine use may lead to weight loss or nutritional deficiencies if not properly managed.

3. Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Dextroamphetamine can cause elevated heart rate and blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular complications. This is particularly true in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.

4. Nervousness and Anxiety: Some individuals may experience heightened feelings of nervousness, anxiety or restlessness while taking dextroamphetamine.

5. Headache: Headaches are a common side effect of dextroamphetamine use, although they are usually mild and transient.

Individuals who are prescribed dextroamphetamine should be monitored closely by a healthcare professional to minimize the risk of side effects and ensure effective use.

What is Dextroamphetamine Used For?

Dextroamphetamine is primarily used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. In individuals with ADHD, dextroamphetamine helps improve attention span, concentration and impulse control, allowing them to better manage their symptoms and function more effectively in daily life.

For individuals with narcolepsy, dextroamphetamine can help reduce excessive daytime sleepiness and improve wakefulness, enabling them to stay alert and engaged throughout the day.

Dextroamphetamine may also be prescribed off-label for other conditions, such as treatment-resistant depression or obesity, although its use for these purposes is less common and may carry additional risks.

Dextroamphetamine and Adderall are both valuable medications, but they differ in their composition and potential effects. Individuals considering dextroamphetamine or Adderall should discuss their options with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on their specific needs and medical history.

Regardless of the type of prescription medication, it’s important for patients to adhere to their prescribed dosage, follow their healthcare provider’s instructions and communicate any concerns or side effects experienced during treatment. With proper monitoring and support, individuals can effectively manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life with the help of these medications.