Vyvanse Addiction and Treatment
By The Recovery Village
Medical Reviewer Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD | Editor Jonathan Strum
Last Updated: May 16, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
As a central nervous system stimulant, Vyvanse is usually prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, it also has a high risk of abuse, dependence and addiction. Although most people take Vyvanse as directed, some people misuse it. Further, Vyvanse is sometimes sold by people for illicit use. If you or a loved one are concerned about someone’s struggle with Vyvanse, knowing the signs and symptoms of possible abuse is important.
What Is Vyvanse?
Vyvanse is the brand name for the drug lisdexamfetamine. It is a derivative of amphetamine that is FDA-approved for ADHD and moderate-to-severe binge eating disorder. Vyvanse is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. As an addictive drug, Vyvanse is prone to abuse and can be diverted or counterfeited for sale on the street. Street names for Vyvanse include V-twin, Steamo, Vicky and Zaded. In 2017 alone, amphetamines like Vyvanse were responsible for 149 hospital visits in New Jersey.
Vyvanse vs. Adderall
Vyvanse is sometimes compared to Adderall. While they have some similarities, there are important differences between them.
- Ingredients: Vyvanse’s sole ingredient is lisdexamfetamine, an amphetamine derivative. Adderall’s ingredients are a mix of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
- Controlled Substance Status: Both are Schedule II
- FDA Approval: Vyvanse is approved for ADHD and moderate-to-severe binge eating disorder. Adderall is approved for ADHD and narcolepsy.
- Frequency of Dosing: Vyvanse is typically taken once daily in the morning while Adderall is taken once or twice daily.
- Forms: Vyvanse comes as an oral capsule and oral disintegrating tablet. Adderall is available as an oral capsule and oral tablet.
- Generic Availability: There currently are no generic versions of Vyvanse. Adderall is available in generic versions.
Vyvanse and the Price of Performance
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, Americans have come to rely on stimulants. Although mild, over-the-counter stimulants like caffeine are freely available, prescription-strength amphetamines and alternatives have long been sought after as:
- A study aid for students
- A tool to keep workers across multiple industries awake and working at high-performance levels
- A diet pill
- A mood treatment
- A muse and energy booster to artists
Vyvanse and other prescription amphetamines are big business for pharmaceutical companies, as these drugs had a 53% increase in prescriptions from 2008 to 2012. The drug is also pricey; since Vyvanse is only available as a brand-name drug, it has a retail price of around $400. This price reflects a mere 30-day supply of the item, as Schedule II controlled substances can only be dispensed legally for a month at a time with no refills.
The cost of widespread prescription stimulant use is not just monetary. The increase in stimulant prescriptions has also led to an increase in deaths from prescription stimulants like Vyvanse.
Side Effects of Vyvanse
The most common side effects of Vyvanse are:
- Appetite loss
- Dry mouth
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble sleeping
- Upper abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Because Vyvanse and other stimulants work by revving up the central nervous system, some people are concerned about the long-term effects chronic use can have on the body. However, few studies have been conducted on people who take stimulants long-term. For this reason, long-term effects remain unclear at this time.
Signs of Vyvanse Abuse and Overdose
If you take too much Vyvanse, your brain can become overstimulated from too much dopamine. This can cause side effects like:
- High blood pressure
- Fast heart rate
- Appetite loss
Overdose is a medical emergency and should be treated with immediate medical care. Overdose effects include:
- Increased body temperature
Vyvanse can also be dangerous when mixed with other substances, such as alcohol. Combining the two may make you feel less drunk than you really are. This can be dangerous if you think you are more sober than you are and decide to drive a car. Further, combining the substances helps to release dopamine, which affects the reward system in your brain and may make you keep drinking.
After Vyvanse begins to wear off, a person may experience a Vyvanse crash and have symptoms like depression or fatigue. If the person does not take another dose of Vyvanse, these symptoms may intensify into withdrawal.
Vyvanse withdrawal can be difficult to cope with on your own. Acute withdrawal symptoms often start within 24 hours of your last dose and can last up to five days. These symptoms include:
- Increased sleeping
- Increased appetite
- Muscle aches
- Disordered thoughts
During acute withdrawal, changes in mental status can make a person a danger to themselves and others. After acute withdrawal, a longer-term withdrawal phase can continue for up to two months. Symptoms during this time can include:
- Emotional changes
- Erratic sleep
- Strong Vyvanse cravings
Due to potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, you should only discontinue Vyvanse under medical supervision. Unfortunately, some doctors may not be adequately trained in how to taper and discontinue a stimulant or know how to treat withdrawal symptoms that may occur.
Avoiding withdrawal symptoms is important because severe withdrawal symptoms are linked to future problems staying sober. It can be beneficial to seek a doctor who specializes in Vyvanse addiction and can tailor a detox plan to your unique needs. Because Vyvanse is mainly prescribed for ADHD, finding a rehab that can also address ADHD may be helpful.
Vyvanse Treatment Options
The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper offers a variety of Vyvanse treatment plans and settings in our state-of-the-art facility. It is important to choose the treatment plan that is right for your needs and can help you meet your goals in ending Vyvanse use. Our settings include:
- Medical detox: Detox is the first step in the recovery process. While in detox, you are weaned off Vyvanse under close medical supervision. A team of on-site medical experts works around the clock to treat withdrawal symptoms right away, allowing you to detox at your own pace in a comfortable setting. However, detox alone does not prevent relapse into substance use — that is a job for rehab.
- Residential rehab: Residential rehab takes place following detox and creates a safe home environment while you recover from Vyvanse addiction. In this program, you live in our rehab center while participating in an intensive group and one-on-one therapy. Because you live onsite, you are able to fully focus on your recovery.
- Outpatient rehab: After residential rehab is complete (or in place of it if you have a mild Vyvanse addiction), outpatient rehab can start. In outpatient rehab, you begin to face the world without Vyvanse while still undergoing therapy at our facility or through teletherapy.
- Aftercare: After rehab is complete, aftercare begins. The goal of aftercare is to focus on the long-term recovery journey. As your day-to-day life without Vyvanse begins, it can be tempting to stop focusing on recovery. Aftercare keeps the recovery process ongoing through support groups and relapse prevention plans.
- Dual diagnosis: Many people who struggle with substances have underlying mental health issues. This is especially true for Vyvanse, as up to 25% of adults with prescribed stimulants like Vyvanse misuse the drug. In dual diagnosis, our experts can treat your addiction and your underlying mental health condition at the same time so that you can recover from both.
Related Topic: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab
It is common to have questions about Vyvanse and Vyvanse addiction, including:
Is Vyvanse an amphetamine?
Vyvanse is the brand name for lisdexamfetamine, an amphetamine derivative.
What is Vyvanse used for?
Vyvanse is FDA-approved for ADHD and moderate-to-severe binge eating disorder.
How long does Vyvanse stay in your system?
Vyvanse breaks down into amphetamine, which is the substance that can be detected in your body. Amphetamine from Vyvanse can be found in urine for up to five days after the last dose. A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if Vyvanse was used in the past 90 days. Further, the drug can show up in saliva for up to two days.
It is important to note that other drugs can cause a false positive for amphetamines like Vyvanse. Many of these drugs are non-controlled substances that are taken for common medical conditions. These drugs include but are not limited to:
The antibiotic ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
The mental health medications aripiprazole (Abilify) and fluoxetine (Prozac)
The sleep medications doxepin and trazodone
The nasal congestion medications phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
The diabetes drug metformin
The illicit drug ecstasy (MDMA)
The herbal supplement ginkgo
Is Vyvanse bad for your heart?
Stimulants like Vyvanse have been linked to serious heart problems, especially when abused. In these cases, Vyvanse use can be fatal. Those with heart problems like heart defects, enlarged heart, rhythm problems or coronary artery disease should avoid Vyvanse.
Can Vyvanse cause depression?
Depression is not a common side effect of Vyvanse, although incidents of depression have occurred. More often, depression occurs if a person has been taking Vyvanse and suddenly stops the medication. Depression is a symptom of the withdrawal process
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.
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