Dexedrine/Dextroamphetamine vs Adderall

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) requires a combination of prescription stimulants and behavioral therapy to manage symptoms of this condition. Two amphetamine drugs—Dexedrine and Adderall—have been prescribed to treat ADHD for decades.1 While Adderall remains popular, Dexedrine has fallen out of favor. There are also other differences between these 2 drugs.

This article will compare Adderall vs Dexedrine by contrasting their effects, potency, and addiction potential.

Dexedrine/Dextroamphetamine vs Adderall

Dexedrine is the brand name version of the drug dextroamphetamine. Both Dexedrine and dextroamphetamine contain the same active ingredients and are used for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.2

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Dexedrine for prescription use in 1976.3 While it is not the most popular ADHD treatment on the market, it is still occasionally prescribed.

Adderall, another central nervous system stimulant, was approved by the FDA in 1996 and has been used to treat both ADHD and sleep disorders often since then.3,4

The stimulant Adderall saw a resurgence in popularity with the approval of Adderall XR, the extended-release formula that reportedly made the medication less prone to misuse, and therefore safer for children and young adults struggling with ADHD.5

What’s the Difference Between Dexedrine and Adderall?

The main difference between Dexedrine and Adderall is that while Dexedrine only contains dextroamphetamine, Adderall contains both dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.2,4

Dexedrine Side Effects vs Adderall Side Effects

When comparing the side effects of Adderall vs Dexedrine/dextroamphetamine, many similarities can be found.

Dexedrine Side Effects

Common physical side effects associated with Dexedrine include:2

  • Rapid heart beat.
  • Headache.
  • Shaking.
  • Sleeping difficulties.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Dizziness.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Weight loss.

There are some serious side effects associated with Dexedrine, which are more likely to occur if a person misuses this drug. High-risk side effects include:2

  • Stroke.
  • Heart attack.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • New or worsened behavior and mental health symptoms.
  • New psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teens.
  • Slowed growth (height and weight) in children.
  • Changes to vision, including blurry vision.
  • Seizures.

Adderall Side Effects

Side effects associated with Adderall are like those for Dexedrine. They may include:4

  • Rapid heart beat.
  • Headache.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nervousness.
  • Mood swings.
  • Stomach ache.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Weight loss.

There are more serious side effects associated with Adderall, like there are for Dexedrine. These are more likely to occur in people who misuse Adderall because of the large, nonmedical doses taken; however, they can occur in those who take Adderall as prescribed.

Some of these side effects are associated with overdose, so if they occur and persist, it is important to call 911 to get emergency medical attention immediately. These include:4

  • Increased blood pressure and heartbeat.
  • Stroke or heart attack.
  • Circulation problems, including numb, cool, or painful fingers and toes.
  • New or worsened behavior or mental health problems.
  • New psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teens.
  • Slowed growth in children (height and weight).
  • Seizures.
  • Changes to vision or blurred vision.

Adderall can cause serious damage to the cardiovascular system.4 This may be due to the combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

It is also important to note that mixing Adderall with alcohol can increase a person’s risk of negative consequences.6

Dexedrine vs Adderall Dosages

The dosages available for Adderall vs Dexedrine/dextroamphetamine vary due to each drug’s respective chemistry and potency.

Chemistry, Dose Size, and Potency of Dexedrine

Dexedrine is in the amphetamine class of medications, like Adderall, but it only contains dextroamphetamine.2

As a prescription drug, Dexedrine comes in tablet, liquid, or extended-release capsule—all of which are intended to be orally consumed. This prescription is typically taken two or three times per day, depending on the size of the dose, which can last between four and six hours, although short-acting tablets only last for two hours.2

Typical Dexedrine prescription doses may include:2

  • 5 mg short-acting tablets, lasting for two hours.
  • 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg long-acting capsules, lasting up to eight hours.
  • Up to 40 mg can be prescribed, if symptoms are very difficult to treat.

For people with tough-to-control ADHD symptoms, Dexedrine may still be an effective treatment; however, because of its potency and immediate release, it is prone to misuse, and it is rarely prescribed to avoid diversion.

Chemistry, Dose Size, and Potency of Adderall

Adderall has both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. This combination is more effective for more subtypes of ADHD and in controlling associated symptoms compared to Dexedrine.

The drug also releases differently into the body and brain, so it typically lasts longer without as many side effects when it is taken as prescribed.

There are two versions of Adderall that may be prescribed depending on the individual’s needs:

  • Immediate release (IR).
  • Extended release (XR).

Typically, a person will take three doses of Adderall IR per day to control ADHD symptoms. Only one dose of XR will be necessary, based on FDA studies and approval, as this formula lasts for 7-12 hours.4

Oral tablet dose sizes range:4,7

  • IR versions come in 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30 mg tablets.
  • XR formulas come in 5 mg increments, and also range from 5 mg to 30 mg.

Addiction Potential of Adderall vs Dexedrine

Both Adderall and Dexedrine/dextroamphetamine are amphetamines and, as such, have a high potential for misuse and drug addiction. As a result of this, the federal government classifies both as Schedule II drugs.8

In general, prescription stimulants including Adderall and Dexedrine are misused because many falsely believe that stimulant medications can enhance mental performance or improve memory.1 Instead, misusing prescription stimulants can lead to addiction.

Long-term use of both Adderall and Dexedrine can result in tolerance to the drug. When this occurs, a person needs to take the drug more frequently or in higher doses to achieve the same effects. As this drug use continues, a substance use disorder can develop.1

Getting Help for Adderall or Dexedrine Abuse

If you or someone you care about is misusing Adderall or Dexedrine, help is available. River Oaks Treatment Center is a drug rehab near Tampa, FL, that offers evidence-based addiction therapies and personalized treatment plans.

Get more information about the levels of addiction treatment available, the rehab admissions process, and how to cover the cost of treatment by calling . Admissions navigators are available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you check your rehab insurance coverage.

You can also . At River Oaks, we make it easy to start treatment and begin your recovery journey. Please reach out today for the help and support you deserve.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Retreat to the sunny climate near Tampa, Florida for a stay at the gold standard of treatment facilities. At River Oaks, we offer customized care plans to help you on your recovery journey at our beautiful Hillsborough County campus.