Vyvanse is an amphetamine drug, officially known as Lisdexamfetamine. This drug is officially sold as Vyvanse, Tyvense, and Elvanse, but is not available as a generic drug. While first approved by the FDA in 2007, Vyvanse has skyrocketed to become one of the most popular prescription drugs in the country. Vyanse is primarily used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and is very commonly compared to Adderall for that reason. Like Adderall, Vyvanse is derived directly from amphetamines. It breaks down into dextroamphetamine, causing up to 12 hours of “high” in non-ADD users. This means it has a very high potential for abuse, both by individuals with a prescription and recreational users.
If you or a loved one is using Vyvanse for any reason, it’s important to understand the drug, its risks, and how it works. If use is recreational, it’s also a good idea to review the signs and symptoms of Vyvanse addiction, as well as the long-term effects of abusing the drug.
What is Vyvanse Used For?
Vyvanse is available as a fast-acting or slow-release tablet or chewable. The drug takes effect within about 2 hours of use and typically lasts 10-12 hours following the dose. It’s also normally prescribed in 10, 20, or 30mg pills or chewable tablets. This avoids many of the issues with Adderall, where users who can’t take pills are told to break the capsules open.
More than 10 million Americans are prescribed Vyvanse or its equivalents. Prescriptions are offered for ADHD, in combination with antidepressants, and for binge eating disorder. Here, Vyvanse is shown to be highly effective at helping individuals with ADHD. ADHD patients who take the grade show marked grade performance, work performance, self-esteem improvements, and reduction in self-harm and suicide attempts. While Vyvanse performs similarly to Adderall, it’s more and more preferred in medical settings because of duration of action. Vyvanse typically lasts 12 hours, or more than enough time for the average school or workday. Adderall typically lasts 6 and must be taken twice throughout the day.
All amphetamines can be used as a physical and mental performance enhancer. Vyvanse is rarely used for performance enhancement (although it does happen). Instead, the drug is favored as a “study” drug. Here, students in high school and college use Vyvanse to increase focus, memory, working memory, and inhibition control. This makes it easier for students to study, to stay awake and alert for tests. Some studies suggest that as many as 35% of college students use amphetamine derivatives like Vyvanse for this purpose. At the same time, taking larger doses can result in cognitive deterioration rather than modest improvement. Here, users take anywhere from 20 to 50 mg of Vyvanse, usually spread out over the duration of their study.
All amphetamines cause euphoria in large enough doses. Here, the user will experience 10-12 hours of being “high”, where they seem energetic, active, engaged, and quick to focus on something. This euphoria is normally followed by a crash period, especially if the individual is taking high doses of the drug. However, Vyvanse is not popular for euphoric purposes because it cannot be injected. The drug only works orally, limiting the total high the user can get from the drug.
Effects of Vyvanse
Vyvanse is an amphetamine, so the side effects heavily mirror other drugs in the class. This means it can be difficult to decide whether someone is using Vyvanse, Adderall, or another amphetamine from symptoms alone. Common side effects of Vyvanse usage include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Dry mouth
- Insomnia/Sleep difficulties
- Irritability and mood swings
- Shortness of breath
- Chemical dependence
In rare cases, Vyvanse also interacts badly with heart disease. The drug has caused sudden death in children with heart problems. Therefore, most doctors will carefully review for a family history of heart disease or cardiac problems before prescribing it. Individuals abusing the drug for study or recreation are less likely to have this assessment. In addition, Vyvanse has many contraindications and can cause complications for individuals struggling with bipolar disorder, mania, depression, Tourette’s, anxiety, heart disease, and hyperthyroidism. Vyvanse and other amphetamines can worsen the symptoms of these disorders to the point where they result in hospitalization or death.
Is Vyvanse Addictive
Vyvanse, like other amphetamines, is heavily addictive. In fact, it is a Schedule II drug in the United States. Possessing, using, or selling Vyvanse without a prescription can result in a fine and jail time similar to that of using or selling cocaine. In addition, the Drug Enforcement Administration strongly recommends performing a drug abuse risk analysis before prescribing the drug. In addition, physicians should use a Risk Evaluation and Management Strategy (REMS) throughout the lifetime of the prescription. Essentially, Vyvanse is recognized as highly addictive.
Vyvanse addiction typically manifests as seeking behavior. Here, individuals might doctor shop, lie, steal drugs, or steal goods to pay for more of the drug. They’re most likely lying about or hiding taking pills. They continue to use Vyvanse despite obvious negative consequences to their social life, work, or school, – even if they were initially taking it for performance. And, if they stop taking the drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms and potentially seizures.
Heavy amphetamine users are always characterized by strong periods of “up” and “down”, where the “down” is a crash following a high. Here, amphetamines like Vyvanse can keep users hyped and energetic for 12 or more hours at a time and longer with stacked doses. Afterwards, the body crashes and the user normally spends significant time sleeping off the dose.
Vyvanse vs Adderall
Vyvanse is commonly compared to Adderall. While Vyvanse is a newer drug (approved in 2007/2008), Adderall remains more popular. This is because Adderall is normally available more cheaply as a generic drug.
- Adderall is 50% racemic amphetamine and 50% dextroamphetamine. Vyvanse is lisdextramfetamine which breaks down into dextroamphetamine within about 2 hours in the body
- Adderall has an active effect of 3-10 hours depending on type. Vyvanse lasts for 10 hours
- Vyvanse typically takes up to 2 hours to take effect. Adderall can take effect within 20 minutes
Vyvanse is increasingly popular for treating ADHD, especially in school and college age individuals who need to focus to meet academic requirements. At the same time, it’s increasingly popular as a study and performance enhancing drug. As a Schedule II controlled substance, Vyvanse is not appropriate for off-label or non-prescription use.
If you or a loved one is struggling with amphetamine addiction or some other substance abuse issue, it’s important to seek out help. Modern drug addiction treatment uses a combination of counseling, behavioral therapy, and life skills development to help individuals tackle not just the mental and physical symptoms of addiction, but also the underlying causes of the disorder.