Vyvanse Addiction and Treatment
Prescription stimulant misuse is an ongoing issue in the United States.1 National surveys track misuse of prescription stimulants, but do not offer breakdowns of specific stimulant medicines such as Vyvanse.1 In 2020, 5.1 million Americans (1.8%) aged 12 or older had misused prescription stimulant medicines, including Vyvanse and other ADHD medicines, within the last year.1
The article will help you learn more about what Vyvanse is, how it’s used and misused, signs of addiction and withdrawal, and how to find help.
What Is Vyvanse?
Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) is a prescription stimulant medicine approved to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and moderate to severe binge eating disorder (BED).2 Other stimulant medicines FDA-approved to treat ADHD include Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), Concerta (methylphenidate), and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine).3,4
Vyvanse and other stimulants increase the activity of dopamine, a chemical that activates the brain’s reward system, helps control impulse, motivation, and focus, as well as reinforces behavior.3 This makes Vyvanse helpful for treating ADHD but can also lead to misuse. For example, many people incorrectly believe that stimulants can improve memory and learning and help them get better grades, so people without a prescription often use ADHD medicines as “study drugs” or “smart drugs (nootropics).”3
Lisdexamfetamine differs somewhat from other ADHD medicines in that it acts more slowly in the body and lasts longer, properties that make misuse less likely.5 It is even currently being studied as a possible medicine to treat people with a cocaine or methamphetamine stimulant use disorder.6
What Are the Side Effects of Vyvanse?
When used as prescribed, Vyvanse can help people who have ADHD improve alertness, attention, and energy.4 But as with any prescription medicine, Vyvanse can also cause unwanted side effects. These may include:2–4
- Anxiety and irritability.
- Dry mouth.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
- High blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate. If you take Vyvanse under a doctor’s care, they will check these often to ensure your safety.
- Stomach upset, including nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Poor appetite and weight loss.
- Feeling dizzy.
Call your doctor if you have any of these more serious side effects of Vyvanse: 2
- Chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting.
- Fingers or toes change color, have unexplained wounds, or are numb, painful, or cool to the touch.
- Hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t real (hallucinations).
- Believing things that aren’t true (psychosis).
- Feeling extreme distrust of others (paranoia).
Health Risks of Misusing Vyvanse
When misused, stimulants such as Vyvanse can contribute to negative effects on your body and mind, which may include:2–4
- New or worsening mental health symptoms, including bipolar disorder, depression, or psychosis.
- Heart attack and stroke.
- Hostile or aggressive behavior.
- Poor nutrition and unwanted weight loss.
- Tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Vyvanse Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction
Taking Vyvanse regularly for an extended period can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.2,4,7 While these terms are connected, they don’t mean the same thing.
Tolerance can develop after extended use of Vyvanse, even when used under a doctor’s care.3 Tolerance is when the body gets used to a drug like Vyvanse so that you need a higher dose to get the same effects.2,7,8
Dependence is when the body adjusts to the presence of a drug like Vyvanse in the system so that if you suddenly lower your dose or stop taking it, you will have withdrawal symptoms.2,4,7,8
When drug use progresses to the point where a substance is being taken compulsively, use becomes uncontrollable, and it starts to harm a person’s life, it becomes an addiction.7,8 The disease of addiction changes how a person thinks and behaves, but it is treatable, and recovery is possible.9 Some possible signs of Vyvanse addiction include:7
- Feeling urges (cravings) to take Vyvanse.
- Continuing to take Vyvanse even when it has caused problems in your physical or mental health, functioning at school or work, or relationships.
- Taking more Vyvanse than intended or for longer than intended.
If you regularly use Vyvanse or other prescription stimulants, you may have withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly reduce your dose or stop taking them. Withdrawal from stimulants generally results in fatigue, feeling depressed, and sleep problems.3,4 Vyvanse withdrawal symptoms may include:3–5,9,10
- Feeling anxious and irritable.
- Feeling tired and mentally and physically exhausted.
- Being unable to think clearly and concentrate.
- Sleeping more or less than usual.
- Feeling more hungry than usual.
- Vivid and intense dreams.
- Drug cravings.
- Depression, which in some cases can be severe and include suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
How to Treat Vyvanse Withdrawal and Addiction
Vyvanse withdrawal and addiction can be treated in several different settings, including:8,9
- Medical detox, where you can get care and support while you go through withdrawal and rid your system of the drug, readying yourself to start behavioral treatment.
- Inpatient rehab, where you live for the length of treatment. Inpatient treatment offers 24/7 care, intensive group therapy, individual counseling sessions, and other support as needed.
- Outpatient treatment offers similar care, services, and support as inpatient treatment, but you live at home.
Group and one-on-one counseling sessions use a range of evidence-based therapy approaches that can help people identify and change the underlying thoughts and behaviors that contribute to drug use and addiction.4,8 Counseling can help people better recognize and navigate high-risk situations and stress, which can help prevent relapse (return to drug use after a period of not using), as well as improve relationships with others.4,8 Common therapy approaches used in treating stimulant use disorders includes:4,8
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you identify and change harmful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to drug use.
- Contingency management (CM), which offers rewards for positive behavior changes.
Finding Help for Vyvanse Addiction
It’s never too late to get help for addiction to Vyvanse or other prescription stimulants. American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers evidence-based addiction treatment in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as other locations across the nation. When you’re ready to take the next step, we’re here to listen to your story without judgement. For more information about how to start treatment, call our free, confidential helpline 24/7 at or text us.
Does your insurance cover treatment for vyvanse in Las Vegas?
Check your insurance coverage or text us your questions to learn more about treatment by American Addiction Centers (AAC).