Updated on November 29, 2023
6 min read

Vyvanse Uses, Effects, Risks & Addiction

Vyvanse, whose generic name is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drug. It is manufactured by Shire, the same pharmaceutical company that makes Adderall XR

Vyvanse is FDA-approved to treat:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): ADHD is a behavioral health disorder that involves inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It affects your ability to function or develop.
  • Binge-Eating Disorder (BED): Binge-eating disorder is an eating disorder that involves recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food. People with BED often feel out of control and ashamed or guilty after the binge.

Lisdexamfetamine is a prodrug, so it’s inactive until the body metabolizes it. Vyvanse is only effective if you ingest it, so it can’t be injected or snorted.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health lists Vyvanse in the same group as other amphetamine-based stimulant medications. However, it doesn’t contain an active amphetamine. 

Is Vyvanse Addictive?

Yes, Vyvanse is an addictive substance. You can quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, so you’ll need more to achieve the same effects.

You may also experience withdrawal symptoms if you become dependent and suddenly stop using. These symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on many factors. These include the length of use, dose, and your health.

What Are Vyvanse Addiction Symptoms?

These are some symptoms or warning signs of Vyvanse addiction:

  • Using increased doses
  • Failed attempts to reduce or quit the use of Vyvanse
  • Increased amount of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from Vyvanse
  • Cravings
  • Failure to meet social, educational, or work responsibilities
  • Abandoning previous hobbies and social activities in favor of Vyvanse use

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Why Do Users Abuse Vyvanse?

Many students abuse Vyvanse as a “study drug.” They take Vyvanse hoping to gain a competitive advantage by achieving greater focus, staying late, and “cramming” for a test. 

Other common study drugs include:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine

Students believe that these “study drugs” will improve their academic performance. However, studies show that students who misuse these drugs actually have lower grades than those who don’t.9

Since one of the side effects is appetite suppression, many people may also misuse Vyvanse to lose weight. Recreational users also abuse the drug to get high.

The Dangers of Misusing Vyvanse and Similar Drugs

Prescription drug misuse can lead to many serious health risks, including:

  • Addiction
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Kidney or liver damage
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Psychosis
  • Stroke
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Overdose

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What Are the Signs of a Vyvanse Overdose?

Vyvanse can cause an overdose if you take more than the prescribed dose. Symptoms of Vyvanse overdose include:

  • Aggression
  • Chest pain
  • Coma
  • Dangerously high heart rate
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden death

If a medical professional doesn’t treat Vyvanse overdose quickly, the consequences can be fatal.

Can You Combine Vyvanse and Alcohol?

It’s best not to mix alcohol and Vyvanse. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, whereas Vyvanse is a CNS stimulant. The combination of these two drugs can lead to serious heart issues.

Mixing Vyvanse and alcohol can also cause mild short-term effects like dizziness, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate. Severe and life-threatening effects include sudden heart attack or stroke.

Some people mix Vyvanse and alcohol to drink more, stay up later, or combine highs. However, no study or research backs these claims. The Food and Drug Administration also doesn’t provide a guide on this combination.

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Treatment for Vyvanse Addiction

Fortunately, there are several treatment options for anyone with a Vyvanse addiction. The most effective treatment options are:

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient treatment programs require you to live in an inpatient facility and undergo intensive addiction treatment.

Treatment may include physical health care, therapy, or medication-assisted therapy. These programs typically last for 30, 60, or 90 days but can take longer if necessary.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient treatment programs are more flexible than inpatient recovery programs. They typically require you to attend three to five sessions per week. You may also undergo individual or group counseling and various therapy treatments.

Outpatient programs are more effective for those motivated to get sober and must continue family, work, or school obligations throughout recovery.

If you or someone you care about shows signs of Vyvanse abuse or addiction, it’s time for them to get help. Reach out to a professional to review available treatment options.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often occur together. In this case, dual-diagnosis treatment programs provide specialized care for anyone suffering from both conditions.

These programs simultaneously treat the addiction and any underlying mental health disorders. Therefore, it increases the chances of long-term recovery success.

What Are Vyvanse's Potential Risks?

Vyvanse stimulates your central nervous system and produces several effects, including increased:

  • Alertness
  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Breathing rate
  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Heart rate
  • Physical activity

These effects are usually safe and often beneficial for those with ADHD or BED. 

Recreational users may also experience euphoria, hyperfocus, and extreme bursts of energy, making Vyvanse addictive.

What Are the Side Effects of Vyvanse?

Like virtually all prescription drugs, Vyvanse comes with potential side effects. Common side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and stomach problems
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss

A heart attack or stroke due to stimulant use can also occur in rare cases. Call your doctor immediately if you or someone you know experiences shortness of breath, chest pain, or fainting while taking Vyvanse.

What Are Vyvanse Drug Interactions?

Vyvanse can interact with several types of drugs. If you use it with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), severe and possibly fatal effects may occur, specifically within 14 days of use.

Serious adverse effects may occur if you take Vyvanse with: 

  • Medicines that increase your heart rate or blood pressure
  • Drugs that increase serotonin
  • Prescription stimulants containing amphetamine or dextroamphetamine

Consult your healthcare provider for a complete list of drugs that interact with lisdexamfetamine.

Vyvanse vs. Adderall

Both Vyvanse and Adderall are central nervous system stimulants. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies them as Schedule II controlled substances, meaning they have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

The main difference between the two drugs is how the body processes them. Dextroamphetamine, the main active ingredient in Adderall, enters the body in an active state. Therefore, its effects are more immediate and intense.10

Lisdexamfetamine, the active ingredient in Vyvanse, enters the body in an inactive state. Then, your body converts it to dextroamphetamine.

Comparative Overview of Vyvanse and Adderall

This chart compares the most relevant aspects of each drug:

Approved to treat:ADHD
Binge-eating disorder (BED)
Active ingredients:LisdexamfetamineDextroamphetamine (75%)
Levoamphetamine (25%)
Forms available:Extended-releaseImmediate-release
Duration of effects:10 to 14 hoursImmediate-release: 4 to 6 hours11
Extended-release: 12 hours11
Risk of abuse:High, but slightly lower than Adderall10High
Methods of abuse:IngestingIngesting

Vyvanse Dosage and Duration

Vyvanse comes in chewable tablets or capsules ranging from 10 mg to 70 mg doses. Prescribed doses range from 30 mg to 70 mg.

Because the body must metabolize it first, Vyvanse takes longer than Adderall and other amphetamine-based drugs to take effect. Effects typically last 10 to 12 hours, while some studies report up to 14 hours.

Vyvanse addiction and abuse


Vyvanse is a prescription medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and binge eating disorder (BED). It is classified as a controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and dependence.

Misusing Vyvanse can lead to many serious health risks, including addiction, overdose, and even death. Therefore, following your doctor's instructions when taking this medication is important.

If you or someone you care about shows signs of Vyvanse abuse or addiction, seek help immediately. Various treatment options can provide the necessary support and resources for long-term recovery.

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Updated on November 29, 2023

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