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Vyvanse Addiction And Abuse: The Dangers And Risks

Last Updated: March 25, 2024

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Vyvanse is a stimulant, used to treat various conditions like ADHD and binge eating disorder. Still, while it is beneficial for some, lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, which is the main component of the Vyvanse ingredients, has a high potential for abuse. Reportedly, around 31% of U.S. college students obtain and use Vyvanse and other stimulants illicitly. Even more disturbingly, almost 90% of students taking ADHD meds get them by faking symptoms of the disorder. People who use the medicine are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they immediately discontinue its usage. This article will discuss the possibility of Vyvanse addiction, the various Vyvanse uses, and how to treat lisdexamfetamine addiction.

What Is Vyvanse?

Generically known as lisdexamfetamine, it is a prescription medication that functions as a central nervous system stimulant. Vyvanse doses range from 10mg to 70mg. The drug is used in therapeutic settings due to its mechanism of action on the brain and nerves that regulate hyperactivity and impulse control. Lisdexamfetamine belongs to a class of compounds called substituted amphetamines. Vyvanse ingredients include Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, microcrystalline cellulose, croscarmellose sodium, and magnesium stearate. Once absorbed, it triggers a reaction that results in the production of dextroamphetamine, a powerful central nervous system stimulant.

Is Vyvanse a Controlled Substance?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies it as a controlled substance. In the UK, it’s viewed as a Class B/Schedule II substance and Schedule II in the US. This is because of the high probability of substance abuse related to this product. Vyvanse abuse can have dire consequences on the health of users that is why it is regulated. The medication comes with a Boxed Warning issued by the FDA strongly cautioning of its addictive nature and entreating patients to use it under strict medical supervision. Users of the medication are also prone to withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug cold turkey. To aid recovery, patients are advised to seek help from medical centers.

A woman with a glass of water and Vyvanse pills.

Vyvanse Generic Name

Lisdexamfetamine is the generic Vyvanse name. Currently, the generic Vyvanse is unavailable.  The earliest time the generic lisdexamfetamine is likely to be available will be in 2023. This is because the manufacturer’s patent will expire by February of the same year. Therefore, the drug is quite expensive as compared to other ADHD alternatives. Note that fraudulent companies are pretending to sell the generic version of the drug. Taking any of those drugs can pose adverse problems to your health. So, beware.

What Is Vyvanse Used For

Lisdexamfetamine prescriptions have been available since the FDA approved the use of the drug in 2007. Originally, it was used for strictly treating ADHD. However, the drug has since gained approval for use in treating binge eating disorders as well. It is the first drug to be approved to help in the treatment of moderate to severe binge-eating disorder. It is not known how exactly the drug works to treat BED. However, one theory is that it enhances the dopamine levels in binge-eaters. Thus, they don’t feel like eating when they are not hungry. The medicine is habit-forming which can lead to Vyvanse abuse and addiction, therefore, caution must be exercised in administering it.

Lisdexamfetamine for ADHD  The medication is an amphetamine that can help in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. This helps ADHD patients focus and maintain self-discipline.
Lisdexamfetamine for binge eating The Vyvanse medication also treats binge eating though there’s not enough research to know how it exactly works. However, studies indicate it is efficient in BED treatment.
Lisdexamfetamine for weight loss Studies in rats indicate that the drug can help in weight loss programs. However, this isn’t the approved use of the medication. Thus, it must be used under strict medical supervision for weight loss treatment to avoid serious health implications.
Lisdexamfetamine for depression Lisdexamfetamine is used in combination with antidepressant drugs to treat depression. The increase of dopamine levels is believed to help in raising the moods of people with depression.

Hence, Lisdexamfetamine is mainly used to treat ADHD in adults and children who are at least 6 years old, as well as binge eating disorders, and some other disorders. As a stimulant, the drug displays excellent results in the treatment of patients with difficulties controlling behavior and paying attention. The medicine is also frequently used as a part of an ADHD treatment program rather than a single remedy. To achieve the best results that would allow a child to cope with the disorder and reduce its impacts effectively, a complex approach is recommended. Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate may be combined with behavior therapy, family therapy, various special education options, and classroom adaptations to create a comfortable environment for the child and facilitate improvement.

An Overview Of Vyvanse Addiction And Abuse

Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system to increase alertness. They were first introduced into the US market in the 1930s and were originally meant to help people stay focused. Subsequently, people began to abuse the drug which led to addiction and health problems. Studies indicate that the annual prevalence of the abuse of amphetamines and other stimulants in the US stood at 1.4% of the population in 2006. Though it is habit-forming, Vyvanse addiction and abuse are not common. This is because generic Vyvanse even though it can be snorted or injected, its effects are slowly felt. However, there are no available stats to indicate the prevalence of Vyvanse abuse and addiction. Note that the Vyvanse medication can cause dependence and addiction which can lead to serious health consequences. Another reason Vyvanse abuse is on the low is that addicts of the drug do not report feeling euphoria after intake.

Is Lisdexamfetamine Addictive?

Unlike it is in the case of recreational drugs, the euphoric effects of lisdexamfetamine are barely possible to achieve. Snorting, smoking it, or ingesting it in any other way than orally will not produce stronger effects. However, it is highly possible to gain Vyvanse addiction by taking it differently. Being a stimulant, generic Vyvanse is alluring to those who frequently experience fatigue, depression, and stress. At the same time, the medicine possesses certain chemical properties that cause physical dependence and make it harder to quit using the drug.

Lisdexamfetamine addiction includes the possible development of physical and psychological dependence. Lisdexamfetamine indirectly triggers the production of dopamine, which, in turn, is a major part of the reward system in the brain. This neurotransmitter helps the brain recognize beneficial actions and create habits to make people repeat them. This is how Vyvanse abuse and addiction may develop. Consequently, one experiences Vyvanse abuse symptoms, as well as cravings that addicted people feel for drugs. When the brain of an addict to the Vyvanse medication adapts to the new levels of dopamine, it begins perceiving them as a natural state.

Such Lisdexamfetamine tolerance forces a person to take larger doses of the drug to achieve the same effects. In addition to reinforcing the addiction, it can lead to numerous lisdexamfetamine’s side effects, overdose, damage to the liver and heart, or even death. Though lisdexamfetamine can be habit-forming and cause dependence, a study indicates that it is difficult to get addicted to or abuse the drug. Out of 8 subjects who took lisdexamfetamine to treat ADHD over a period, none reported addiction. Nevertheless, this study does, in no way, rules out addiction to the drug.

Signs And Symptoms Of Lisdexamfetamine Abuse

Abuse of lisdexamfetamine generates two types of distinct symptoms – physical and psychological. Physical symptoms are signs that are visible and cause pain or discomfort. Psychological symptoms, on the other hand, are signs of emotional distress. Here is a list of both the physical and psychological effects of addiction to the drug. Recovery from these symptoms is possible though in some cases a doctor’s intervention is required.

Physical Symptoms Of Lisdexamfetamine Abuse

The medication has many physical symptoms and users are strongly advised not to take them lightly. Anyone who experiences any of this should report to the nearest rehab center for assistance.

According To The U.S. Library of Medicine, The Visible Vyvanse Signs And Symptoms  Include:

  • Reddening of some part of the skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Uncontrollable shaking of some part of the body
  • Fast and irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Hostility and aggressive behavior
  • Loss of consciousness for a long period
  • Dry mouth
  • Swelling of the face and eyes
  • Lack of sleep

Prompt detection and appropriate response to lisdexamfetamine signs in some severe cases can be the determining factor. Often, the medication can cause tiredness. Since the drug is prescribed as a treatment for ADHD, patients abusing the drug may develop resistance over time. This, then, leads to the patient increasing Vyvanse doses, although Vyvanse dosage is determined by weight, to keep up with the increasing resistance.

A doctor gives pills to a patient.

Psychological Signs of Lisdexamfetamine Abuse

These are symptoms that the patient may experience based on how they emotionally feel. Other people may not observe any Vyvanse symptoms. It is, therefore, up to the patient to seek rehabilitation help to aid recovery. Once a patient starts abusing the drug, the brain’s hormonal balance is distorted.

Hence, The Following Psychological Symptoms Of Vyvanse Abuse Are Experienced:

  • Hallucinations (auditory or visual)
  • Depression
  • Feelings of panic
  • Feelings of nausea
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Paranoia
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Psychosis

Other behavioral patterns may arise as a result of abuse of the medication. Some include compulsive behaviors such as sex and gambling may develop. Abusers may also adopt reclusive behavior to try and hide their drug use. However, abusers are advised to seek early treatment at a rehab center to help them with withdrawal.

Who Is Most At Risk Of Vyvanse Abuse?

Though everyone can abuse lisdexamfetamine, there are a group of people who are most at risk of Vyvanse abuse. Such people need to exercise caution in administering the medication.

  • ADHD patients – People who take lisdexamfetamine for long to treat ADHD have a higher potential of abusing and getting addicted to the drug.
  • People who suffer from depression – People who have been diagnosed with depression and are taking lisdexamfetamine to treat it are also at risk.
  • Family history – If there’s a history of drug abuse in a family, the members of that family should be cautious when taking the medication.
  • Former drug addicts and abusers – Drug addicts who are in rehab or are withdrawing from drugs are at risk of abusing lisdexamfetamine. Such users may also display withdrawal symptoms and may need to gradually lower the dosage of the drug during recovery to lessen the symptoms.
  • Trauma victims – Victims of extremely traumatic events or psychological pain are also prone to abusing the medicine.

To avoid abuse, always take the drug under a doctor’s supervision, and if possible, request the lowest dosages. Doing that will save you a lot of problems down the road. If abuse is detected, recovery from the drug should be sought at a rehabilitation facility.

Dangers Of Lisdexamfetamine Misuse

While the range of lisdexamfetamine positive effects is indisputably broad, abusing the drug can cause severe mental and physical problems. As it is common for prescription drugs, Vyvanse side effects can be quite severe. Also, Vyvanse may provoke erectile dysfunction. Still, it is important to remember that there is always a risk of becoming addicted to Vyvanse, due to the developed tolerance to the drug. In certain cases, the use and abuse of lisdexamfetamine can lead to the deterioration of the existing condition and the development of new disorders.

This way, lisdexamfetamine shouldn’t be used by children with psychosis, and consultation with a doctor is required when other psychiatric disorders are present. There is also a debate about the safety of using Vyvanse during breastfeeding. When lisdexamfetamine dimesylate is abused or even used for recreational and other non-medical purposes, it can cause severe damage to the mental and physical health of an individual, including paranoia and impaired judgment and speech. Mixing Vyvanse and alcohol, weed, or other prescription stimulants or illicit drugs can all turn out to be a deadly combination. Recreational use of the drug is considered abuse and is against the law.

Treatment For Lisdexamfetamine Addiction

Many people believe prescription drugs are virtually harmless. This delusion frequently makes it hard to notice the beginning of the abuse and promotes denial of the problem. Vyvanse addiction is, in fact, a potentially life-threatening issue, bringing consequences that spread beyond the addicted person. Lisdexamfetamine can be an addictive drug when used outside a doctor’s prescription or off-label. Vyvanse addiction treatment often includes medications such as Naltrexone and Prozac to reduce cravings during detox. The duration of the detoxification period is determined by how long lisdexamfetamine stayed in one’s system, the quantity ingested, and other individual factors such as age, gender, and general physical condition.

Vyvanse treatment includes both inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as special options like couples or family rehab and rehab for pregnant women. The best results can be achieved when a person enrolls in a lisdexamfetamine addiction treatment that meets individual needs. A comfortable environment and support along with appropriate medication and cognitive behavioral therapy dramatically increase a person’s chances of successful long-standing benefits of Vyvanse treatment.


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Published on: April 1st, 2019

Updated on: March 25th, 2024

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.

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