Last published: June 14, 2023
Note: This facts page discusses dexamphetamine at the recommended dose.
What is dexamphetamine?
Dexamphetamine is medication prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder).1
Dexamphetamine is also classified as a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and body.2
Because of dexamphetamine's potential to be used illicitly, there are special restrictions on it.
In Australia, prescriptions for substances like dexamphetamine require authorisation from state or territory health departments.3
Other types of stimulants
What does dexamphetamine look like?
Dexamphetamine is usually a small, round, white tablet. It can also be a capsule4 and can come in immediate or sustained-release formulations.
Dexamphetamine Sulfate (Sigma), lisdexamfetamine, Vyvanse, dexies, dexy
How is dexamphetamine used?
Dexamphetamine is usually swallowed. It can also be crushed and snorted, or injected.
Effects of dexamphetamine
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Prescribed stimulants work on the parts of the brain involved in regulating attention and arousal (being alert and awake). The medications can greatly improve concentration, impulse control and hyperactivity in about 80% of children with ADHD.5
In adults, attention deficit disorder is quite different —and the symptoms are unique for each individual.6 It is estimated that around 533,300 adults (aged 20+) have ADHD in Australia.7
Dexamphetamine affects everyone differently based on:
- size, weight and health
- whether the person is used to taking it
- whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- the amount taken.
Side effects may include:
- abdominal pain
- mood changes such as depression or irritability
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- heart palpitations
- restlessness, nervousness, tremor
- sleep difficulties
- loss of appetite, weight loss or slower growth (including height) in children.3
These side effects are generally mild, and mostly occur during the first few days of
treatment. They may disappear as the body adjusts to the treatment.3
The effects of the immediate-release tablet can last around 4 to 6 hours and the extended-release can last for approximately 8 to 12 hours.8
If you take more than the recommended dose you may overdose.
Call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000) if you have any of the following symptoms:
- pain or tightness in the chest
- shortness of breath
- fast, irregular heartbeat
- seizures (fits)
- depression or irritability
- excitement, overactivity and uninhibited behaviour
- weakness in the limbs or face
- thoughts about suicide or self-harm
- confusion, delusion or hallucinations.3
If the recommended dose is taken, there shouldn’t be any comedown effects.9, 10
Regular use of dexamphetamine may eventually cause:
- cardiovascular complications
- reduced growth (weight and height) in children9,10
Dexamphetamine and mental health
If more than the recommended dose is taken, dexamphetamine may produce psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, delusion and hallucinations.3
Tolerance and dependence
If the recommended dose is taken, no tolerance or dependence should occur.3
If you’re taking dexamphetamine illicitly, however, there are more risks involved. Read the Reducing Harm section on the stimulants page.
Mixing dexamphetamine with other drugs
The effects of taking dexamphetamine with other drugs – including over the counter medications – can be unpredictable and dangerous. Caution
Dexamphetamine + alcohol can make unwanted side-effects such as nausea, headache and dizziness worse.3
If the recommended dose is taken, no withdrawal effect should occur. Some children stop taking the medication on the weekends and school holidays and do not experience any adverse effects.5
If your use of dexamphetamine is affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, or you’re concerned about a loved one, you can find help and support.
Call our DrugInfo line on 1300 85 85 84 for confidential and non-judgmental information and advice.
Not sure what you are looking for? Try our intuitive Path2Help tool and be matched with support information and services tailored to you.Find out more
Using dexamphetamine without a prescription from a doctor, psychiatrist or paediatrician, or selling or giving it to someone else is illegal.11
There are also laws against forging or altering a prescription or making false representation to get dexamphetamine or a prescription for it.11
- Upfal J. Australian drug guide: the plain language guide to drugs and medicines of all kinds. Melbourne, Vic.: Black Inc.; 2016 [cited 2021 June].
- Australian Government Department of Health. How drugs work: Leaner's Workbook - Classifying drugs by their effect on the central nervous system 2004 [12.01.2021].
- Aspen Pharma Pty Ltd. Aspen Dexamfetamine dexamfetamine sulfate 5 mg tablets Consumer Medicine Information 2021 [cited: 14.02.2023].
- Health Direct. Dexamfetamine (Aspen) 2023 [cited: 14.02.2023].
- Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 2021 [cited: 15.02.2023].
- ADHD Foundation Australia. ADHD in Adults Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Adult ADHD and What You Can Do About n.d. [cited: 27.02.2023].
- Deloitte Access Economics. The social and economic costs of ADHD in Australia. 2019.
- Shoar N Marwaha R Molla M. Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine 2022 [cited: 15.02.2023].
- Lohr D Wanta J Baker M Grudnikoff E Morgan W Chhabra D Lee T. Intentional Discontinuation of Psychostimulants Used to Treat ADHD in Youth: A Review and Analysis. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2021;12.
- Smith G Jongeling B Hartmann P Russell C Landau L. Long-term outcomes associated with stimulant medication in the treatment of ADHD in children 2010 [cited: 20.02.2023].