Vyvanse: What Is It, Side Effects, and Addiction

Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

April 12, 2023

Table of Contents

Vyvanse is a prescription medication mainly used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). This medication is associated with side effects, including an accelerated heart rate, gastrointestinal complications, and other cardiovascular effects.

Although the drug is designed in a way that offers some protection against abuse, some people abuse this medication believing that it will enhance cognitive performance. The effects of Vyvanse abuse include physical dependence, addiction, paranoia, psychosis, heart complications, and seizures.

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What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse is a branded prescription stimulant that contains the active ingredient lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, a drug classified as an amphetamine. The medication has FDA approval for treating:

  • ADHD in adults and children aged 6+
  • Moderate or severe binge eating disorders in adults

The medication is not approved by the FDA for treating obesity or weight loss and should not be used for this purpose.

The drug is available in the following forms to be taken once per day:

  • Capsule: Strengths from 10 mg to 70 mg
  • Chewable tablet: Strengths from 10 mg to 60 mg
A psychiatrist is speaking with a client in their office, presumably prescribing Vyvanse and warning about Vyvanse addiction.

Is Vyvanse a Controlled Substance?

Vyvanse is classified by the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that while the medication has some medical applications, it also has a high potential for misuse, physical dependence, and addiction.

The controlled nature of this drug means that special rules govern how the medication is prescribed and dispensed to mitigate misuse, abuse, and addiction.

Generic Vyvanse

There is not currently a therapeutically equivalent generic Vyvanse available in the United States.

If you encounter a generic version of this drug in an online pharmacy, the medication will be counterfeit and potentially unsafe.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals lost its Vyvanse patent in February 2023, although a period of pediatric exclusivity granted to Takeda means that they will retain market exclusivity until August 24, 2023. From this date, the FDA will consider approving the drug in generic formulations manufactured by other pharmaceutical companies.

Vyvanse Side Effects

Vyvanse may trigger mild or serious side effects.

Mild Side Effects

The most common mild side effects associated with this medication include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pains
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Depressed mood

Mild side effects will typically subside within a few days. If symptoms persist or become more severe, consult your prescribing physician.

Serious Side Effects

Serious side effects associated with Vyvanse are uncommon but they can occur. Call your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following serious side effects after taking the medication:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chest pain while exercising
  • Fainting without apparent cause
  • Racing or pounding heartbeat
  • Tightness or pain in the chest or arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Drooping face on one side
  • Sudden numbness in one arm
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired blood circulation in fingers and toes
  • Discolored or cold fingers and toes
  • Psychosis
  • Mania
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Allergic reaction
  • Potential for abuse and physical dependence
  • Slowed growth in children
A man's hand holds a pill to represent vyvanse.

How Long Does Vyvanse Stay in Your System?

The elimination half-life of a drug dictates how long it will remain in your system. The half-life of a drug expresses the time it takes for your system to reduce its concentration in the body by half. It is estimated that it takes between four and five half-lives for all of a drug to be eliminated from your system.

Lisdexamfetamine – the active ingredient in Vyvanse – is metabolized into dextroamphetamine. This means that lisdexamfetamine is only detectable for a few hours. Dextroamphetamine has an elimination half-life of 12 hours, meaning that the substance is detectable for two to three days.

Is Vyvanse Addictive?

Vyvanse is a Schedule II controlled stimulant that has a high risk of misuse. Drug misuse is defined as taking a drug for nonclinical use, or for unapproved applications. In most cases, drug misuse involves taking higher doses than prescribed to induce a euphoric high.

The sustained use of the drug may trigger the formation of physical and psychological dependence. When you become dependent on a medication like Vyvanse, you will require the substance to function normally.

This drug may have a less pronounced abuse profile than some other stimulant drugs like meth. This is because the medication does not work until it has been activated in your body, metabolizing into dextroamphetamine. As such, this medication lacks the intense and rapid effects of many other stimulants.

Signs Vyvanse Dose Too High

If you are prescribed Vyvanse or any other stimulant medication for ADHD, it is crucial to find the dosage that works effectively for you. Taking too high of a dose can provoke a range of unpleasant side effects. Here are some common signs that your dose may be too high:

  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors or muscle twitches

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Vyvanse last?

The effects triggered by Vyvanse last from 10 to 14 hours.

What is Vyvanse used for?

Vyvanse is FDA-approved to treat ADHD in adults and children aged 6 and above. The medication also has FDA approval for the treatment of eating disorders in adults. Like all controlled substances, this medication is also commonly abused for nonclinical purposes.

What is the difference between Vyvanse vs Adderall?

Vyvanse and Adderall are both prescription medications used to treat ADHD. However, they differ in their active ingredients and how they are metabolized in the body. This drug contains lisdexamfetamine while Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine salts – dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Additionally, this medication is metabolized in the body into its active form, dextroamphetamine, whereas Adderall contains both dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine.

Is it safe to mix Vyvanse and alcohol?

No, it is not safe to mix Vyvanse and alcohol. Both Vyvanse and alcohol can have an impact on the central nervous system, and combining the two can increase the risk of adverse effects, including cardiovascular problems, dizziness, and impaired judgment. Beyond this, this medication can mask the effects of alcohol, leading to excessive drinking and an increased risk of alcohol poisoning.

Addicted to Vyvanse

If you develop Vyvanse addiction, this is clinically described as stimulant use disorder, a type of substance use disorder. All substance use disorders are chronic and progressive brain conditions characterized by compulsive drug use regardless of adverse outcomes.

While there is no cure for those addicted to this drug, all stimulant use disorders respond favorably to evidence-based treatment. While there is no FDA-approved medication to streamline withdrawal, stimulant use disorders respond positively to behavioral interventions that include counseling, group therapy, psychotherapy – typically CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) – and motivational therapies.

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Prescription Medication Addiction Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

Whether you have become addicted to Vyvanse after using the medication for legitimate medical purposes or you have been abusing this Schedule II controlled substance, we can help you initiate a full recovery here at Renaissance Recovery in Huntington Beach.

You don’t need to worry about taking a month or more off work either – we specialize in the intensive outpatient treatment of stimulant addictions at our Vyvanse rehab center. We also offer integrated dual-diagnosis treatment for those with addictions and co-occurring mental health conditions like ADHD.

All treatment programs at our luxury beachside rehab combine science-backed and holistic therapies for a whole-body approach to recovery. Your personalized addiction treatment plan may include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies
  • Aftercare

When you are ready to unchain yourself from addiction, call the Renaissance team at 866.330.9449.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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