Is Vyvanse Addictive? + Uses, Drug Interactions, Side Effects

Vyvanse is the brand name of a drug called lisdexamfetamine, a central nervous system stimulant medication.

This medication works by affecting specific chemicals in the nerves and brain which contribute to impulse control and hyperactivity.

This is a new attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medicine developed by the Shire, an Irish-headquartered global specialty biopharmaceutical company (the same company that invented Daytrana and Adderall).


It is used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children (6 years old and older) and in adults. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.

It is estimated that 11% of 4-17-year olds in the US have ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder include:

  • talks incessantly and quickly;
  • squirms in seat;
  • inability to sit still;
  • impatience;
  • easily distracted and bored;
  • seems not to process what is being said;
  • doesn’t listen;
  • insomnia (sleep problems);
  • difficulty in following even basic instructions;
  • anxiety;
  • the appearance of poor memory;
  • hot temper;
  • unstable personal relationships;
  • prone to anger;
  • low tolerance of situations, people, and surroundings;
  • emotional outbursts;
  • frequent emotional swings;
  • general restlessness;
  • ineffective organizational skills;
  • difficulty completing tasks;
  • prone to losing items.

Doctors are still uncertain what causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, according to studies, this condition is caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • traumatic brain injuries;
  • alcohol use during pregnancy;
  • premature birth;
  • environmental factors because attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be associated with lead exposure and cigarette smoking (and second-hand smoking);
  • changes in brain chemistry;
  • high consumption of food additives;
  • another mental health disorder;
  • emotional stress.

This medication is also used to treat moderate to severe binge eating disorder. This condition is associated with:

  • feeling depressed, disgusted, or guilty after eating;
  • eating alone out of embarrassment;
  • eating large amounts of food when you are not hungry;
  • eating until you are uncomfortably full;
  • eating rapidly.


For treating binge eating, the usual initial recommended dose is 30 mg per day. After a week, this dose is increased by 20 mg. The maximum recommended dose is 50 to 70 mg a day.

For treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults, the usual initial recommended dose is 30 mg once per day in the morning. For treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children (6-12 years), it is 20 to 30 mg once per day in the morning. The maximum recommended dose is 70 mg per day.

Side Effects And Precautions Of Lisdexamfetamine

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea;
  • upper abdominal pain;
  • irritability;
  • dry mouth;
  • decreased appetite;
  • dizziness;
  • vomiting;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • weight loss.

Rare side effects may include:

  • blurred vision;
  • behavior changes, such as – aggression, agitation, paranoia;
  • mood swings;
  • hallucinations, like – hearing, seeing, or feeling things which are not there;
  • fast or pounding heartbeat;
  • slowed growth;
  • increased blood pressure;
  • diarrhea;
  • extremely high energy;
  • fast or irregular pulse;
  • rapid talking;
  • swelling of the legs;
  • extremely elevated mood;
  • vision changes;
  • leg swelling;
  • impulsiveness;
  • new tics, like – vocalizations or involuntary movements;
  • racing thoughts;
  • pale stools;
  • purple discoloration of fingers;
  • dark urine;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • a sensation of numbness;
  • yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes;
  • vomiting;
  • chest pain;
  • thoughts of suicide;
  • decreased interest in activities (like – sex);
  • changes in sleep pattern;
  • poor concentration.

To be sure that this medicine is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have an overactive thyroid;
  • are allergic to any type of medicine;
  • have a heart disease;
  • have moderately high blood pressure;
  • are in an agitated state;
  • have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (such as – tranylcypromine, moclobemide, phenelzine) within the last two weeks;
  • have arteriosclerosis (also referred to as hardening of the arteries);
  • have glaucoma (a group of eye disorders that lead to progressive damage to the optic nerve);
  • have a history of drug misuse.


There are no clinical studies regarding its safe use by pregnant or nursing women. Therefore, contact your doctor before use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding a baby.


Both alcohol and this medicine can cause mood changes, dizziness, and dry mouth. Therefore, drinking alcoholic beverages while taking this medicine could make all of these side effects worse.


Contact your local poison control center at (800) 222-1222 or an emergency room right away if you think you have taken too much of this medication.

High & Abuse

Like other medicines which affect perception and behavior, lisdexamfetamine is subject to abuse for recreational purposes. It is also a Schedule II Stimulant (the same scheduling category as cocaine), a designation which the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for medication with a high potential for abuse.

Abusing this medicine may cause a small rush, however, the rush is less intense than the effects of amphetamines. That is because this medication must be absorbed in the intestinal tract before it is converted to the active form and injecting or inhaling the medication would not have the same effect.

Note – if you have any type of mental problem, finding help from an online psychologist is probably the most less expensive and faster way to get the support you need.

Drug Interactions

This medication may negatively interact with other drugs and cause serious side effects. These drugs include:

  • stomach acid medicines;
  • anti-depression medicines, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (such as – selegiline, tranylcypromine, phenelzine, isocarboxazid);
  • allergy or cold drugs which contain decongestants;
  • blood thinner medicines;
  • seizure medicines;
  • blood pressure medicines.

Is Vyvanse Addictive?

Stimulants like this medication have a high potential for addiction and abuse, particularly among people who do not have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Also, there are addiction concerns for individuals who take this medication for medical purposes and as prescribed by their doctor.

However, most problems with addiction occur when people take it when they don’t need it to treat a health condition or when people take more than the recommended dose.

Images credit -Shutterstock & Getty

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