Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) is a prescription amphetamine that stimulates the central nervous system. It affects brain chemicals that influence impulse control and hyperactivity. It is commonly prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and may also be prescribed for binge eating disorder.
The Vyvanse label warns that this medication may be habit-forming. It poses the risk of addiction even when taken as prescribed. In many cases, people who abuse Vyvanse do not have a prescription but get it from a friend, online or on the street.
Vyvanse Addiction Signs And Symptoms
Individuals who abuse Vyvanse may experience physical and psychological symptoms of use. They may also show signs of addiction, such as loss of control over drug use, financial troubles and strained relationships.
Other signs of Vyvanse addiction may be:
- taking the drug in high amounts or taking it often
- tolerance to the effects of Vyvanse
- needing Vyvanse to accomplish tasks or projects
- seeking multiple prescriptions of the drug from different doctors
- obtaining large quantities of Vyvanse illicitly
- unlabeled pill bottles or baggies
Since many people struggling with addiction try to hide the extent of their drug use, it may be easier for a loved one to recognize symptoms of Vyvanse abuse, such as:
- high energy
- reduced appetite
- stomach pain
- flushed skin
Some people who abuse Vyvanse in large amounts may experience suicidal or homicidal thoughts as well as psychosis, anxiety and paranoia.
Short-Term Effects Of Vyvanse
People generally abuse Vyvanse because it helps them focus on big tasks and projects at school or work. The drug can help them concentrate, give them energy and make them feel like they are more in control of their life.
However, they may also be experiencing some adverse effects that go unnoticed until they are critical. These might include heart palpitations, heartbeat irregularities and chronic high blood pressure. They can lead to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
Long-Term Effects Of Vyvanse
Over time, Vyvanse abuse may lead to or worsen psychosis. Psychosis is an altered state of mind in which an individual has trouble telling reality and imagination apart. They may experience increased paranoia and aggression as a result.
Stimulants like Vyvanse are also very hard on the heart with prolonged use. They can cause poor circulation, numbness in the hands and feet, nerve pain and severe heart problems.
Besides the physical effects, Vyvanse is an addictive drug that triggers changes in brain structure.
A person who begins taking the drug only for midterms may eventually take it before every test, then every project, then every day. The more they abuse Vyvanse, the more their brain will rely on it and begin to crave it to function.
How Common Is Vyvanse Abuse?
A recent study conducted at the University of Southern California found that as many as 17 percent of college students abuse Vyvanse and similar prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. These medications often go by nicknames such as “pep pills” or “study drugs.”
Stimulants like Vyvanse are also commonly abused by individuals in jobs that require extreme focus and long hours. These may include lawyers, engineers and even medical professionals.
How Is Vyvanse Abused?
A person who has been prescribed Vyvanse typically takes one capsule by mouth a day, usually in the morning. Someone who is abusing Vyvanse may take it as needed when they need to study or pull an all-nighter at work.
Often, Vyvanse abuse escalates with time until a person is taking it several times per day. Some individuals break open the capsule and snort the beads inside, or mix them with water to inject. With many drugs, this causes a more immediate and intense effect by taking it straight to the bloodstream.
However, Vyvanse is a prodrug, which means that it must be passed through the digestive tract and broken down in the liver (metabolized) before it becomes effective. Therefore, the most common mode of abuse is oral ingestion.
Can You Overdose On Vyvanse?
Though Vyvanse is created to be difficult to abuse, some people take it in very high doses to achieve an intense high. This poses the risk of overdose, which is increased if a person takes Vyvanse with other stimulants, such as Adderall, Ritalin or cocaine.
Signs of Vyvanse overdose include:
- rapid breathing
- heart failure
Vyvanse overdose may also be more likely to occur when it is mixed with a depressant like alcohol, opioids or benzodiazepines. The opposing effects of these types of drugs make it difficult to determine when someone has taken too much of either.
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Vyvanse Withdrawal Symptoms
People who abuse Vyvanse are probably aware of the “Vyvanse crash” that occurs a few hours after taking the drug. This is often marked by fatigue as well as a host of adverse effects.
As Vyvanse leaves the body, the brain is left unbalanced and takes a while to recover. A person may feel shaky, irritable and unable to sleep.
When someone is addicted to Vyvanse, and they try to stop taking it, it is even more of a jolt to the brain and takes longer for the brain to adjust to its normal functioning. An addicted individual is likely to experience similar symptoms to the crash but more intense.
Vyvanse withdrawal symptoms may be:
- severe cravings
- increased appetite for food
- strange dreams
- suicidal thoughts
In some cases, withdrawal may involve seriously altered mood states that may lead to self-harm.
Vyvanse Addiction Treatment
Individuals suffering from Vyvanse addiction can find healing through our holistic inpatient rehab program at The Bluffs. We balance proven treatment methods with experiential therapies, encouraging individuals to connect with nature through adventure therapy and practice self-expression through art and music.
Our treatment plans are customized to each person’s unique needs and history with addiction. Factors such as the severity of drug use, how long a person has been abusing Vyvanse, and how much support they have at home can influence their recovery process.
One of our foundational treatment methods is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals identify negative thought patterns and replace them with healthier ones. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) goes hand-in-hand with CBT to help people deal with painful emotions as well as learn acceptance and coping skills.
Other evidence-based practices at The Bluffs include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and dual diagnosis treatment. Dealing with underlying issues such as trauma and co-occurring disorders is crucial to preventing relapse and supporting lifelong recovery.