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Can You Get Addicted to Vyvanse?

Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a prescription medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and severe cases of binge eating disorder (BED). It is a stimulant medication with a risk of addiction if misused.

Like all stimulants, Vyvanse works by stimulating the activity of the brain’s natural production of norepinephrine and dopamine

There is a potential for addiction because the brain gets used to relying on the drug to produce these neurotransmitters. 

When the drug is not present, the brain is unable to produce dopamine and norepinephrine in an appropriate amount (if at all). Without these chemicals, someone is likely to crave the drug to help them feel normal.

Vyvanse is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means the federal government and law enforcement recognize a high risk for addiction. 

Vyvanse use is common among people with ADHD or binge eating disorder and those using the drug without a prescription. 

The risk of addiction is higher for people who misuse Vyvanse. 

Drug misuse refers to:

  • Taking a drug without prescription
  • Taking it in higher doses than prescribed
  • Mixing it with other stimulants or drugs

Mixing Vyvanse with other drugs, including alcohol, also increases the risk of overdose.

How Common is Vyvanse Addiction?

Vyvanse, unlike many prescription stimulants, was formulated to have a lower risk of misuse and use compared to other stimulants. This was done by creating a “prodrug.” This means Vyvanse is inactive until there is enzymatic metabolism of the drug to make it active. 

Additionally, it was formulated as an extended-release drug, which means it is released slowly into the body.

However, like all prescription stimulants, Vyvanse causes tolerance, dependence, and addictive behavior when taken regularly. 

A recent study conducted at the University of Southern California found that as many as 1 in 6 college students use prescription stimulants, including Vyvanse. 

The study included a meta-analysis of data from 30 papers that showed a wide range of percentage of misuse as high as 43 percent.1

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Signs & Symptoms of Vyvanse Addiction 

Signs and symptoms of Vyvanse addiction include:

  • Using the drug without a prescription or taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Compulsively seeking the drug
  • Continuing to use the drug even when there are negative side effects
  • Failing to cut down or stop using the drug without success
  • Becoming increasingly secretive or changing routines
  • Ending up in dangerous situations while trying to obtain or use the drug
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Neglecting responsibilities to use the drug
  • Needing to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effects

Effects of Vyvanse Addiction

All medications pose a risk of side effects. These risks increase when someone develops an addiction to the medication. 

The side effects of Vyvanse use and addiction are both short-term and long-term.

Short-Term Effects 

Short-term effects include:

  • Weight loss
  • Mental health changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Cardiovascular effects, including heart attack and stroke

Overdose symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Combativeness
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic
  • High fever
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Rapid breathing
  • Arrhythmia
  • Reduced or elevated blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

Long-Term Effects 

Long-term effects include:

  • Cardiovascular effects, including blood pressure and heart rate increases, heart attack, and stroke
  • Worsening psychiatric issues, including bipolar disorder, mania, and psychosis
  • Withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped, including depression, mood swings, fatigue, and cravings for the drug

Other Risks Associated With Vyvanse 

In addition to addiction, Vyvanse users face a variety of other risks including:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Jitters or shakiness
  • Libido changes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and cramping
  • Palpitations
  • Poor circulation
  • Restlessness
  • Skin crawling or rash
  • Sleep problems
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss

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Can You Overdose on Vyvanse? 

You can overdose on Vyvanse. The federal government classifies Vyvanse as a Schedule II substance, which includes drugs with a high risk of abuse, dependence, and overdose.

People who abuse Vyvanse have a higher likelihood of overdosing on the drug. This includes anyone who overuses or misuses the drug, even if they have a prescription.

A Vyvanse overdose can be fatal. If you suspect you or someone you know has overdosed on Vyvanse, you should seek immediate emergency medical attention. 

The symptoms of Vyvanse overdose include:

  • Confusion
  • Combativeness
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic
  • High fever
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Rapid breathing
  • Arrhythmia
  • Reduced or elevated blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

A Vyvanse overdose can also lead to long-term problems with kidney and liver health, as well as cognitive challenges.

Vyvanse Withdrawal Symptoms

There is a risk of developing an addiction to Vyvanse. This means users will experience withdrawal symptoms if and when they stop using the drug. 

Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within a week after the last dose and include:

  • Anxiety caused by the brain’s neurotransmitters trying to return to normal levels (low dopamine levels are known to trigger anxiety)
  • Problems with concentration, including the return of significantly worsened ADHD symptoms
  • Foggy thinking
  • Depression, which tends to be mild to moderate and is due to low dopamine levels
  • Fatigue, usually within the first week or so after someone stops using the drug
  • Headaches that are usually controlled with an increase in water consumption and over-the-counter headache remedies
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation due to fatigue and low dopamine levels
  • Mood swings that continue until the brain’s neurotransmitters stabilize
  • Insomnia

Treatment for Vyvanse Addiction 

Treatment options are available for people who have developed an addiction to Vyvanse. 

The goal of these programs is to help people identify the root cause of their addiction and learn how to deal with triggers. 

The best programs also address a patient’s co-occurring mental health disorder that likely played a role in the development of the addiction.

Treatment goals in a substance abuse program include:

  • Maintaining sobriety
  • Understanding the addiction and why it developed in the first place
  • Learning life skills that help with managing the addiction and leading a sober life
  • Implementing relapse prevention strategies
  • Establishing healthy relationships with sober peers and mentors

Treatment programs offer a variety of arrangements, including:

  • Residential programs
  • Outpatient rehabilitation
  • Intensive outpatient rehab programs
  • Peer support groups
  • 12-step meetings

The best treatment option varies based on someone’s specific circumstances. People seeking treatment for Vyvanse addiction should consider the following when choosing a program:

  • Treatment needs
  • Employment situation
  • Family and other personal responsibilities
  • Financial ability
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Geographic location
  • Mobility

Professional Detoxification

Detoxification is the first step in recovery and sobriety. It is also very challenging and a time in which the risk of relapse is very high.

The safest way to detox from Vyvanse is in a medically supervised detoxification program

This treatment includes round-the-clock supervision and medical support. It allows for monitoring of uncomfortable physical and psychological aspects of withdrawal, as well as immediate medical attention if an emergency arises.

Detoxification might also include tapering of Vyvanse, which allows someone to gradually stop taking the medication. This reduces the severity of withdrawal effects.

The best detoxification programs reduce the risk of relapse by providing medical, clinical, and personal support through one of the most difficult phases of recovery.

Aftercare and Recovery Support

Following the detoxification phase, someone with a desire to maintain long-term sobriety can begin a comprehensive treatment program. Formal programs last anywhere from a week to 90 days.

Treatment programs can be residential or on an outpatient basis. They include:

  • Immediate access to treatment professionals and medical care
  • One-on-one counseling sessions
  • Group counseling sessions
  • Structured routines and schedules
  • Family therapy
  • Medical examinations
  • Treatment of co-occurring conditions
  • Access to employment, education, and other community resources
  • Help with long-term care and relapse prevention

Aftercare programs provide ongoing peer support to people recovering from Vyvanse addiction. 

It gives them a supportive resource they can turn to when they are challenged and tempted by their addiction. 

Addiction recovery is an ongoing process. The more help someone has, the more likely they are to maintain sobriety.

Resources

MORE
LESS
  1. Study Finds 17% of College Students Misuse ADHD Drugs.” www.medicalnewstoday.com, 11 Mar. 2015.
  2. PubChem. “Lisdexamfetamine.” Pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 
  3. Mayo Clinic. “Prescription Drug Abuse - Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 2018.
  4. Highlights of Prescribing Information.” FDA. 
  5. Prescription Stimulants.” Drugabuse.gov, 6 June 2018.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Data and Statistics about ADHD.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Sept. 2018.
  7. NIMH» Eating Disorders.” www.nimh.nih.gov.

Related Pages

Vyvanse Uses, Effects, Risks & Addiction

Vyvanse Overdose

Addiction Resources for American Communities

Dangers of "Study Drug" Abuse in College

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