Signs, Symptoms, & Side Effects of Dexmethylphenidate Abuse

Dexmethylphenidate is a generic central nervous system stimulant drug, also sold under the brand names Focalin and Focalin XR. Focalin and Focalin XR are primarily prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and, less commonly, for other conditions like narcolepsy. Focalin is an immediate-release version of dexmethylphenidate, while Focalin XR is extended-release version. Stimulants like dexmethylphenidate are frequently abused drugs. This class of drugs is abused because they can create a euphoric high. Also, stimulants can help people stay awake for long periods of time.

Dexmethylphenidate is supposed to be used only by prescription and the effects of the drug are similar to other stimulant ADHD treatments like Adderall and Vyvanse. Some people do feel that Focalin has fewer adverse side effects than other similar drugs, although that’s a subjective assessment. People are instructed not to use Focalin and drugs with dexmethylphenidate if they have a history of substance abuse or health conditions like severe anxiety, agitation, glaucoma or Tourette’s syndrome. Even when people use dexmethylphenidate as directed, it can cause severe side effects like heart attack, stroke and sudden death.

Some of the signs of dexmethylphenidate abuse can include:

  • Seeming to be very energetic
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased sociability or talkativeness
  • Insomnia or sleep problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hyperactivity
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating

When dexmethylphenidate is taken as prescribed and at a therapeutic dose, a person won’t likely experience these side effects. If someone truly has ADHD, a drug like dexmethylphenidate will help improve their focus and concentration. Some of the reasons for dexmethylphenidate abuse, along with achieving the desired high, include a perceived increased ability for school or work performance. People also abuse stimulants as a way to lose weight.

Dexmethylphenidate Signs, Symptoms, & Side Effects

Dexmethylphenidate is classified as a Schedule II drug in the U.S. That means that the federal government has determined that dexmethylphenidate has a high potential for abuse and addiction. When someone uses stimulant drugs like dexmethylphenidate, it affects their brain neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine and dopamine. The drug increases the level of these chemicals available in the brain. As a result, stimulants increase the heart rate and blood pressure and also increase blood sugar levels. Symptoms of dexmethylphenidate abuse can include extreme or unhealthy weight loss. Taking high doses of these drugs can also lead to irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, heart failure and seizures.

Dexmethylphenidate abuse is characterized by use of this drug in any way other than what’s prescribed. For example, dexmethylphenidate abuse can include taking someone else’s prescription or buying it illegally. Dexmethylphenidate abuse can also include taking higher doses than prescribed or taking it more frequently than prescribed. Over time, the side effects of dexmethylphenidate abuse can include psychological addiction and physical dependence. Other short-term side effects of dexmethylphenidate abuse can include muscle shakes, tremors or agitation.

Dexmethylphenidate addiction can occur after someone uses this drug. Since dexmethylphenidate affects brain neurotransmitters and can cause a euphoric high, a reward response can be triggered. That reward response can lead to addiction.

Some of the signs of dexmethylphenidate addiction can include:

  • Developing tolerance for the drug and needing more to get the same effects
  • Taking the drug in ways other than instructed, such as crushing pills and snorting them
  • Becoming preoccupied with the use of dexmethylphenidate or how to obtain more
  • A person who’s addicted to dexmethylphenidate may feel like they can’t function without the drug
  • Continuing to use dexmethylphenidate even when there are negative side effects
  • Trying to stop using dexmethylphenidate and being unable to
  • Damage to relationships, or at school or work

Long-term dexmethylphenidate effects can range in their severity. Some of the possible long-term dexmethylphenidate effects can include mood swings, sleep and concentration problems, fatigue, depression and panic attacks. People may lose so much weight that they become severely underweight. Psychological long-term effects can include depression, irritability, paranoia and suicidal thoughts. Dexmethylphenidate long-term effects can also include brain damage and organ damage. A person who has abused dexmethylphenidate for a long period of time will also likely have deficiencies in their natural production of dopamine -leading them to have problems experiencing pleasure naturally. People who have abused stimulants over a long period of time may experience symptoms that are similar to those of schizophrenia and psychosis as well.

Addiction treatment is available for stimulants like dexmethylphenidate, or other types of drugs. Contact The Recovery Village to learn more about detox and effective addiction treatment.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.