Vyvanse Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

What You Need to Know About Vyvanse Addiction Treatment

No one sets out to become dependent on drugs. However, even medications that were created to treat a specific condition are capable of being misused. Such is the case with Vyvanse, a stimulant that is commonly prescribed to manage attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

While Vyvanse may help a person with ADHD by calming them down and helping them focus, taking too much can lead to potentially dangerous physical and mental health issues. For those who are taking Vyvanse without monitoring by a physician, the risks are even greater.

Fortunately, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper offers treatment options that you can take advantage of when you or someone you love needs help.

Vyvanse Addiction Treatment

What Is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse® (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a prescription medication that’s used to manage ADHD in individuals who are 6 years of age and older. It’s also used to treat binge eating disorder (BED) in adults. It is not indicated to treat obesity or be used as a weight-loss medication.

The drug works by elevating dopamine and norepinephrine levels. Dopamine is a naturally occurring substance that stabilizes moods and contributes to feelings of well-being. Norepinephrine is a stimulant. Regulating the release of these chemicals helps those with chronic attention deficit conditions to concentrate and focus. When used as directed, it also contributes to impulse control and other features of attention deficit and binge eating disorders.

As a prescription amphetamine, Vyvanse is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This puts the drug in the same category as stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine as well as narcotics such as OxyContin, Percocet, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone.

Is Vyvanse Habit-Forming?

A Schedule II classification means that there is a high likelihood of abuse. Vyvanse abuse, by taking the drug recreationally or taking higher doses than prescribed, can lead to dependence, addiction, and related physical or mental health problems. Recreational use includes taking someone else’s prescription or buying drugs off the street, even if the intended effect is to enhance school, work, or athletic performance rather than just to get high.

Dependence is indicated when there is a preoccupation with taking the medication or when tolerance is built to the point where the prescribed dosage is no longer effective. Vyvanse addiction is diagnosed when misuse continues despite negative consequences, such as health or legal problems, job loss, or damaged relationships.

Although the effects of Vyvanse begin within an hour of taking the drug, it’s active in the bloodstream for up to 14 hours after each dose. However, you may need to take the medication for a few weeks before you and your doctor will know if it’s effective for treating your condition.

During your first evaluation, your doctor may alter the dosage to find the right formulation and frequency for you. You’ll usually continue monitoring on a regular basis for as long as you’re being treated to ensure that you’re not misusing or becoming dependent on Vyvanse.

Signs of Vyvanse Addiction

When does medical care transition from disorder management into dependence and on to addiction? If you begin to feel anxious when your prescription is running low or start watching the clock and waiting for your next dose, you may be dependent. Another sign of dependence is building up a tolerance for Vyvanse. That means that the prescribed dosage is no longer effective.

If you begin to take more than your prescribed dosage, crave the drug if you miss a dose, take the drug more frequently than indicated, and buy or steal other stimulants when you can’t access Vyvanse, you may be addicted.

Other signs of Vyvanse addiction include:

• Unusually high energy levels
• Sudden emotional outbursts
• Dilated pupils
• Decreased appetite
• Sleep disturbance
• General feelings of unease
• Reddening of the skin

These symptoms can also be accompanied by an inflated sense of self or feelings of invincibility due to excessive amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine being released in the brain.

Side Effects of Vyvanse Misuse

In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms and changes in habits or behavior, chronic Vyvanse misuse also leads to mental and physical health effects and conditions.

These can include:

• Increased anxiety and panic attacks
• Depression
• High blood pressure
• Increased respiration
• Excessive sweating
• Decreased appetite
• Metabolic changes
• Chronic insomnia
• Brain damage
• Liver or kidney damage

The good news is that Vyvanse is specially formulated to make it less prone to abuse than other amphetamines. This formulation requires what’s called a rate-limiting step of enzyme activation in order for it to work. This extra step reduces the time it takes for energy to release, which also reduces the euphoric effect of the medication and makes it less attractive to those looking for a high.

Although Vyvanse must be metabolized in a specific manner for it to have any effect at all, those who are misusing the medication will try to enhance or hasten the effects by snorting or injecting the drug. Ingesting Vyvanse in either of those ways could lead to other health problems like infection, hepatitis, or HIV.

Taking too much Vyvanse will result in an overdose. This is characterized by symptoms such as:

• Stomach cramps
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Flushed features
• Chest pains with heart palpitations
• Excessive sweating
• Vomiting
• Hallucinations

When a Vyvanse overdose occurs, it’s important to remain calm and seek medical treatment immediately. Because Vyvanse is a stimulant that increases the heart rate and affects the body’s own temperature-regulating mechanism, physical activity can increase the effects of an overdose and result in a high fever, convulsions, and cardiovascular collapse. Getting to that point means the overdose could be fatal.

The Vyvanse “Crash”

Misuse of prescription stimulants comes with a common side effect that’s known as a crash. This is something that happens when you lose access to Vyvanse or suddenly stop taking the drug in an attempt to quit.

The crash is the result of coming down from the extreme high that accompanies stimulant misuse. You can go from periods of heavy physical activity and mental awareness to sudden, extreme exhaustion and mental confusion that can last for hours or even days if use is severe or long-term. Often, this is part of a cycle that follows a binge of overuse. However, crashing isn’t the only sign of Vyvanse withdrawal.

Symptoms of Vyvanse Withdrawal

Many of the symptoms of Vyvanse withdrawal are the same as the signs of misuse.

They include:

• Increased depression and anxiety
• Drug cravings
• Sleep disturbance
• Irritability
• Excessive sweating
• Tremors or shakes

The withdrawal symptoms can become so unpleasant that people can be tempted to begin using Vyvanse again in order to alleviate them. That’s why the best way to quit for good is under the direction of an experienced addiction specialist at a drug treatment center like The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper.

Vyvanse Addiction Treatment

Current research indicates that it takes about 90 days to complete the cycle of rehabilitation from detox and withdrawal to sobriety. However, recovery is a life-long process that requires incorporating new tools to combat triggers and a commitment to staying clean.

At The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper, we take a multifaceted approach to recovery that includes:

• Medical detox and Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT)
• Inpatient rehab
• Outpatient care
• Dual diagnosis treatment
• Aftercare support

Stages of Recovery

Our treatment options are designed to align with the last two of the five stages of recovery:

1. Precontemplation
2. Contemplation
3. Preparation
4. Active treatment
5. Maintenance

During the first two stages, you or those around you become aware that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. However, recovery usually begins during the contemplative stage and transitions into preparation. That’s when you admit that there’s a problem and actively begin looking at treatment options or enter a rehab facility so that true recovery can begin.

The first step of active recovery is the detox period which allows your brain and body to become drug-free. This is when the first signs of withdrawal begin, so it’s important to have professional and/or medical intervention during this period. It usually lasts for about 24 hours, but feelings that accompany withdrawal can last for up to two weeks. During this time, you’ll be monitored by medical professionals and receive any medications necessary to make you more comfortable during the initial period of abstinence.

Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment Options

After your brain and body return to near-normal levels of functioning, you and your doctor will decide the best course of action for treatment. Those with less severe or short-term addictions or clients with work and/or family obligations might be able to try outpatient care.

Outpatient treatment allows you to attend therapeutic sessions, receive medical services, and get help for concurrent mental health conditions during the day and return to your home or sober living facility at night. This is also an option for those who’ve undergone inpatient treatment but need additional support. You can either attend sessions for a few hours two to three days a week or undergo more intensive outpatient care, also called an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), for up to nine hours a day, five days a week.

Inpatient treatment means that you’ll stay at the facility full-time as a client for anywhere from 30 to 90 days. During your stay, you’ll go through the initial detox, then begin a regular schedule that includes nutritional support, individual therapy, group therapy, recreational therapy, and aftercare planning.

The purpose of inpatient care is to take the client out of their current living conditions and provide a more supportive environment that allows them to focus solely on recovery. Individual therapy will help you uncover the root of your addiction, train you to identify triggers and stressors that make you more likely to relapse, and provide you with tools and techniques to cope with stress and temptation in everyday life. Your therapist will also work with you to uncover undiagnosed mental health conditions or begin/restart therapy for existing conditions.

Group therapy allows you to discuss your addiction and the challenges you face with peers who’ve had similar issues. Recreational therapy provides creative, healthier ways to redirect your mental and physical energy as you shed harmful habits and incorporate new, more positive ones.

Aftercare Support

You’ll also develop plans for after you leave the treatment facility. Aftercare is an important component of recovery because it provides you with ongoing support once you’re back in the real world. It allows you to reinforce the skills you’ve developed during your stay at our facility and provides continued access to group and individual therapy.

For those who have relapsed or are in danger of relapse, aftercare also provides ongoing medical maintenance, accommodation in a sober living community, and other support services that are designed to help ensure lasting recovery.

How long you’ll remain in active recovery and aftercare depends upon:

• The length and severity of drug misuse
• The type of drug(s) used. Many treatment centers offer polydrug abuse treatment.
• Your mindset and commitment to sobriety

The active phase of treatment can last anywhere from a few weeks up to a year. Aftercare can extend for years if you are on medical maintenance, continue with therapy, or decide to participate in a 12-step program like AA or NA. Many people in advanced recovery opt to become sponsors so that they can offer support to others who have recently quit using drugs or alcohol. Our facility offers a similar option through our Alumni Program.

Help for Vyvanse Addiction Is Just a Phone Call Away

Drug dependency and misuse don’t just affect the user. Addiction doesn’t care about your background, social status, or anything else. It’s an equal-opportunity health crisis that impacts family, friends, coworkers, and entire communities to varying degrees.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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