Is Vyvanse Addictive? Signs, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Effects of Abuse & Addiction Treatment
What Is Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine)?
Vyvanse is a prescription drug, primarily used to treat symptoms of ADHD. The generic name of Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine. It is a central nervous system stimulant. Vyvanse is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S. because it can cause physical and psychological dependence, according to the United States federal government. Using this drug for more prolonged periods can change your brain chemistry, and make Vyvanse detox more challenging.
Some people may begin to see an improvement in their ADHD symptoms after a few days of taking Vyvanse. But it can take up to several weeks to experience the full effects of the medication.
Signs of Addiction to Vyvanse
Is Vyvanse Addictive? There are certain outward signs of Vyvanse addiction that people may notice in their loved ones. Some signs are physical symptoms, while others are related to behavior and lifestyle. Signs of Vyvanse addiction can include:
- Taking Vyvanse without a prescription or taking higher doses than prescribed
- Compulsive drug-seeking and drug usage
- Continuing to use Vyvanse even when there are negative side effects or consequences
- Trying to cut down or stop Vyvanse unsuccessfully
- Being increasingly secretive or changing routines
- Putting oneself in dangerous situations to obtain more Vyvanse or to use it
- Withdrawing from loved ones and responsibilities like school or work
- Need to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effects
When someone uses Vyvanse in any way other than prescribed or instructed by a medical professional, it is considered to be abuse. Vyvanse abuse can include crushing tablets or emptying capsules to snort or inject the drug. Abuse doesn’t necessarily result in addiction, but addiction is more likely to occur in people who abuse a prescription drug like Vyvanse.
Vyvanse Addiction Symptoms
Is Vyvanse Addictive? Symptoms of Vyvanse abuse are similar to those of other stimulants and can include:
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Physical exhaustion
In severe cases, including overdose, serious mental status changes, including agitation and hallucinations, can occur. Seizures are also possible. Once someone comes down from a Vyvanse high, they can experience a crash. Symptoms of a Vyvanse crash may include:
- Increased appetite
- Muscle aches
Risk Factors Associated With Vyvanse
Is Vyvanse Addictive? Vyvanse is a powerful medication, and while it is therapeutic for many, it also possesses a real potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. A person places themselves at high risk for addiction development when they abuse Vyvanse.
People who become addicted to Vyvanse demonstrate a loss of control over how much or how often they take it. They also typically crave the drug and continue to use it despite negative consequences of using, which may include:
- Employment problems
- Legal difficulties
- Family conflict
As with any drug, using higher and higher doses of Vyvanse increases the risk of an overdose. The reasons for this have to do with tolerance that develops after regular use, which leads a person to take larger doses to feel the high they felt when first using. Those high doses alone can create an increased risk for overdose.
Then, if repeated use continues, a person may develop significant physiological dependence, which is characterized (among other signs) by withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. When unpleasant withdrawal symptoms surface—depression and extreme fatigue, for instance—the person takes the drug again to “feel normal” and places themselves at a greater risk for adverse effects, particularly if they take an extra-large dose in hope of eliminating their symptoms that are making them feel so miserable.
The danger of overdose is also greater after a time of abstinence because their body’s tolerance for Vyvanse began to return to its pre-use levels. So when the person resumes using the drug at the same amount they did when their tolerance was high, the body can no longer handle it like it used to, and overdose often results.
Many people also engage in polysubstance abuse, abusing other drugs along with Vyvanse. Any time a person does this, their risk of overdose rises substantially due to the combined effects of the drugs taken together. Though there is little information on the specific combination of Vyvanse and other drugs, people often use other drugs with stimulants to enhance their high, and any polysubstance abuse increases the risk of experiencing adverse side effects.
Emergency-room visits for stimulant overdoses, such as overdoses caused by Adderall, Vyvanse, Strattera, and Concerta, also involved another drug in about 63% of the cases. In 45% of these multi-drug–use cases, the drugs were also other prescription drugs. The most common prescription drugs taken along with stimulants include anti-anxiety medications and narcotic painkillers. Overall, 19% of people reported using alcohol along with stimulants. In 21% of the visits, street drugs were involved, with marijuana noted as the most common street drug used.
All stimulant medications have the potential to be abused, but the risk of abuse and addiction varies between each medication version. While Vyvanse was developed with unique chemical properties with the hope of minimizing abuse liability, it still poses a serious risk to those who misuse it. Vyvanse is a Schedule II controlled substance, indicating the risk for severe psychological or physical dependence.
Is Vyvanse Addictive? Addiction is a condition marked by observable, behavioral changes in the user. It is the compulsive use of a substance without regard to the dangers that use could bring.
Stimulants interact with various neurotransmitters in the brain, but one in particular, dopamine, is related to the “high” produced when abused. When a stimulant medication is used as prescribed, it triggers a release of dopamine at steady levels. When many stimulants are snorted, the dopamine level can rise more quickly and to higher levels, which causes a fast and intense high. Vyvanse, however, is different because it is a prodrug stimulant.
When Vyvanse is consumed orally, it must be processed by serum enzymes after being absorbed into the blood from the GI tract for the effects to be active. This process can take some time, and people looking for immediate onset of effects may attempt to bypass this process by opening the capsule and snorting Vyvanse powder.
While snorting many drugs—such as Adderall (another stimulant) and painkillers like OxyContin—might result in a significant increase in the rate and intensity of effects as compared to oral ingestion, the same does not appear to be the case for Vyvanse.
In actuality, comparisons of Vyvanse use by oral consumption and intranasal consumption show that the effects are equal. The onset and duration of effects were similar as were the levels of dextroamphetamine available in the body whether the substance was snorted or taken orally. In reality, snorting Vyvanse does not speed up or intensify effects. This is likely due to the chemical formation of Vyvanse, which requires the substance to be processed from lisdexamfetamine to dextroamphetamine to be active. Snorting Vyvanse only causes additional physical harm.
Those smoking Vyvanse do so by opening the capsules, pouring out the insides into a paper, rolling it, lighting it, and smoking it. But, since Vyvanse is a prodrug and only activated when digested, smoking it will not cause any kind of “high” or euphoric feeling. The same goes for snorting the drug as well.
Despite it not producing a high, trying to smoke Vyvanse is a form of drug abuse and may suggest a larger problem with substance use. While taking Vyvanse orally can lead to a high, abusing Vyvanse and not taking it as directed can also lead to dangerous effects.
Effects of Vyvanse Abuse
Some of the common side effects of Vyvanse can be exacerbated by abuse, both in the short and long term. These include:
- Mental status changes
- Life-threatening cardiovascular side effects like stroke and heart attack
- Weight loss
- Sleep problems
Cardiovascular and psychiatric complications from stimulant abuse are some of the main reasons that stimulants like Vyvanse became controlled substances. If you take Vyvanse and experience cardiovascular symptoms, you should consult with your doctor. These symptoms include:
- Chest pain
People who abuse Vyvanse can become psychologically addicted or physically dependent upon the drug as well.
Long-Term Effects of Vyvanse Abuse
Vyvanse abuse can have long-term physical and psychiatric consequences. These include:
- Cardiovascular problems: Increased blood pressure and heart rate are common Vyvanse side effects that may be exacerbated by abuse and can contribute to cardiovascular damage. Additionally, cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke, and cases of sudden death, are possible consequences of Vyvanse abuse.
- Worsening psychiatric issues: Even when taken as prescribed, Vyvanse can worsen psychiatric problems like bipolar disorder, psychosis, and mania. Abuse may compound these issues.
Vyvanse Addiction Treatment
Addiction can be incredibly hard to live through, not just for the person directly affected but also for friends and family members who might watch a loved one deal with it. There are different options to manage this condition and increase the chances of a return to normal life.
Addiction Treatment Centers
Addiction treatment centers are a popular measure to help people overcome the seeking and using of drugs. In some instances, treatment centers may be gender- (such as female only) or age-specific (teenage only), to provide these groups with the level of care they need.
Certain drugs are useful for managing the withdrawal symptoms of Vyvanse addiction. These include medications that can stabilize neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, or serotonin. These drugs can help to provide relief from withdrawal effects and may help to prevent a relapse.
Therapy is another sought-after treatment option for managing substance use disorders. Through methods like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for addiction, patients can learn more positive attitudes and behavior patterns concerning drug use. This treatment method may also teach healthier ways to cope with daily life, and challenges that may encourage drug use as an escape.
Reclaim Your Life From Vyvanse Addiction
There are certain outward signs of Vyvanse addiction that people may notice in their loved ones. Some signs are physical symptoms, while others are related to behavior and lifestyle. We Level Up rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from addiction with professional and safe Vyvanse detox. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Goodman D. W. (2010). Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse), a prodrug stimulant for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. P & T: a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 35(5), 273–287.