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  • Vyvanse (brand name for lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a prescription stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and kids, and can also be used to treat binge-eating disorder. It’s often compared to Adderall.

    Vyvanse may be abused by people looking to boost their brain performance, sometimes via injection or intravenous use. Unfortunately, this can cause lots of adverse effects.

    How Does Vyvanse Work?

    When taken as directed, Vyvanse works in the central nervous system by altering the chemicals in the brain and how they’re balanced. 

    It works by increasing the levels of two neurotransmitters: norepinephrine and dopamine. The first works as a stimulant while the second occurs when we feel pleasure. 

    Together, they help with the symptoms of ADHD by increasing focus and decreasing hyperactivity. The increased dopamine can also create a euphoric feeling. 

    This euphoric feeling and its ability to help with focus are some of the reasons Vyvanse is both abused and addictive.

    Because of its addictive qualities, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies it as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse.

    Injecting Vyvanse

    Vyvanse can be injected by being crushed, dissolved, and injected into a vein. From there, it goes directly into the bloodstream and to the brain, bypassing the digestive system. 

    This would normally cause an intense high, but Vyvanse is a prodrug. This means snorting or injecting it isn’t effective.

    Because it’s metabolized and converted into dextroamphetamine in the intestine and requires enzymes to break it down before it can become active, the drug must be swallowed to be effective.

    This could discourage people from abusing and injecting it but it still happens. High doses taken orally can still cause a euphoric feeling but they also come with lots of negative side effects.

    Side Effects Of Vyvanse Abuse

    When Vyvanse is abused, it can result in many adverse side effects that may include:

    • heart problems
    • ​constipation
    • psychosis
    • seizures
    • weight loss
    • dilated pupils
    • sweating
    • reduced appetite
    • stomach pain
    • dry mouth
    • poor coordination
    • anxiety
    • hostility

    Dangers Of Vyvanse Abuse

    Abusing Vyvanse comes with quite a few dangers and health risks as well.


    When Vyvanse is taken in high doses, the likelihood of an overdose increases. An overdose of Vyvanse can be fatal and include symptoms like:

    • fever
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • stomach cramps
    • muscle aches
    • weakness
    • restlessness
    • tremors
    • hallucinations
    • aggression
    • panic
    • rapid breathing
    • irregular heart rate
    • chest pain
    • loss of consciousness
    • coma

    Dependence & Addiction

    When abusing Vyvanse, the risk for dependence is significant. Dependence occurs when the body adapts to a drug and only functions normally when the drug is used. This occurs more often when someone abuses a drug rather than taking it as prescribed.

    Abuse can also happen after dependence is built up. Once the body depends on a drug to function, a person can try to stop taking it, feel unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and then go back on the drug to feel some relief. This can lead to addiction and further drug abuse.

    Withdrawal Symptoms

    When you stop taking Vyvanse after long-term use or abuse, withdrawal symptoms can occur and may include:

    • excessive sleeping
    • fatigue
    • mood swings
    • depression
    • overeating
    • cravings

    Polysubstance Abuse

    Mixing Vyvanse with other medications, which is sometimes called polysubstance abuse, can be very dangerous and may cause adverse effects.

    When Vyvanse is taken with MAOIs, SSRIs, fentanyl, buspirone, or tricyclic antidepressants, the risk of serotonin syndrome increases. The symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

    • agitation
    • confusion
    • rapid heart rate 
    • high blood pressure
    • dilated pupils
    • loss of muscle coordination
    • heavy sweating
    • diarrhea

    Vyvanse and any MAOIs also shouldn’t be combined as the interaction can be fatal. It’s important to let your healthcare provider know all the medications you’re on so you don’t experience any adverse effects.

    Heart Problems

    Vyvanse can cause sudden death in children with heart problems and can cause a stroke or heart attack in adults with heart issues. Those with heart issues should stay away from Vyvanse due to these serious side effects.

    If you or a loved one live with Vyvanse or prescription stimulant addiction, help is available. Call our helpline today to find the addiction treatment option that’s right for you.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Vyvanse
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Lisdexamfetamine
    Pharmacy and Therapeutics - Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate (Vyvanse), A Prodrug Stimulant for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 26, 2022
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