What is Vyvanse?
Vyvanse is a prescription medication taken to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and binge eating disorder (BED). It’s swallowed, either as a capsule or chewable tablet.
The active ingredient in Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine, an amphetamine, and central nervous system stimulant. It works by influencing certain chemicals in your brain that can cause hyperactivity and are involved with impulse control.
What is Vyvanse used for?
Vyvanse is approved by the FDA to treat:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children aged over six
- Moderate to severe binge eating disorder (BED) in adults
How does Vyvanse work?
Vyvanse is a central nervous system stimulant, meaning it acts on your brain to increase activity and speed up mental and physical processes.
When you swallow Vyvanse, your body converts the active ingredient lisdexamfetamine into a substance called dextroamphetamine. The dextroamphetamine is transported to your brain in your blood. It passes into your brain where it causes molecules called neurotransmitters to be released.
Neurotransmitters are produced naturally in your brain and body. They’re signal molecules that allow messages to travel from nerve to nerve, regulating brain activity and playing a role in thinking and behavior.
Vyvanse causes your brain to release more neurotransmitters, like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin and slows down the speed at which they’re recycled. This causes levels of neurotransmitters to build up in your brain.
Key uses for Vyvanse include:
Vyvanse for ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects the development of your brain. It’s usually diagnosed in childhood, often between the ages of six and 12.
ADHD can cause problems with paying attention, impulsive behavior, regulating emotions, mood swings, and can cause restlessness and excessive activity. It can make it difficult to focus, to multitask, to organize yourself, and manage your time. Because of this, ADHD can disrupt your school or professional life, and the lives of people around you.
Research has shown that Vyvanse can ease the symptoms of ADHD and improve the quality of your life. It’s thought that the increase in neurotransmitters it causes, improves your focus, attention, and reduces hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Vyvanse for binge eating
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder where you compulsively eat large amounts of food (binge eating). You may feel out of control when you do this, and that you can’t stop yourself.
Unlike the similar eating disorder bulimia, people with BED don’t purge the food afterward (such as by vomiting). Because of this, it can result in weight gain and obesity. This can lead to health problems, but also mental health issues like feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, depression, and social isolation.
BED receives less media attention than other eating disorders, but it may be the most common eating disorder.
It’s thought that the increase in attention and control, and the decrease in impulsivity that Vyvanse can cause also helps people reduce their binge eating.
Vyvanse for weight loss
While Vyvanse can cause weight loss as a side effect, it is not approved for weight loss by the FDA. Vyvanse should only be used to treat ADHD and BED.
How long does Vyvanse last?
Vyvanse is slower acting and has a longer duration of effect than some other central nervous system stimulants.
This is because your body must convert the active ingredient lisdexamfetamine into dextroamphetamine before Vyvanse has any impact. Vyvanse also contains an ingredient called lysine (an amino acid) that slows down how quickly lisdexamfetamine can be converted into dextroamphetamine.
Vyvanse usually takes around two to 12 hours to affect you. Its effects can then last up to 14 hours.
How to make Vyvanse last longer?
Some people may find that Vyvanse doesn’t last for quite as long as they’d like it to. A quick search online reveals pages and pages of advice on what you can do to prolong the effects of Vyvanse, from eating large meals when you take it, to using magnesium supplements.
There’s no scientific research behind any of this advice, so it’s best if you ignore it. If you feel your Vyvanse dose isn’t right, you should talk to your doctor about changing it (never change your dose yourself).
Is Vyvanse addictive?
Lisdexamfetamine, the active ingredient in Vyvanse, is a controlled substance that can be abused and become habit-forming. To put it simply, yes, Vyvanse has the potential to be addictive. However, when used as prescribed to treat a medical condition, Vyvanse shouldn’t become habit-forming.
Lisdexamfetamine is converted in your body into dextroamphetamine, which is an amphetamine. Amphetamines can be used as a recreational drug. This is where they aren’t used as prescribed or to treat an indicated medical condition.
Recreational use, particularly heavy use of amphetamines, can lead to physical dependence (addiction). It can alter the way your body works. You can also become more tolerant of them, requiring higher doses to get the desired effect.
Vyvanse has less potential to be used recreationally than other amphetamines, as it’s slower acting, and won’t be absorbed quicker if it’s crushed or ground up. If used as directed by a doctor to treat ADHD or BED, it shouldn’t become addictive. Research has also shown that long-term use of stimulants from childhood to treat conditions like ADHD reduces the chances of addiction.
Your physician should assess your risk of Vyvanse addiction and should monitor you whilst you take it.
How to take Vyvanse?
Vyvanse is taken orally. It comes as either a capsule or a chewable tablet. You usually take Vyvanse once a day, in the morning. Taking it later in the day can cause insomnia.
You can take Vyvanse with food and water. Capsules can be swallowed whole or they can be opened, with the powder inside mixed with water or orange juice, or soft food like yogurt. The mixture must be drunk or eaten immediately. The chewable tablets must be chewed thoroughly before swallowing.
Vyvanse capsules come in strengths of 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg and 70 mg. Vyvanse chewable tablets come in strengths of 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, and 60 mg.
You can take either a Vyvanse capsule or chewable tablet, and you can substitute them if you take the same Vyvanse dosage.
The dose you take will be decided on by the doctor who prescribed Vyvanse to you. Make sure you always take Vyvanse as directed. The following are typical doses but are only here as a guide, not as an indication. Your physician may prescribe a different dose based on your condition and medical history.
Typical Vyvanse doses
- ADHD – The recommended starting dose is 30 mg. This dose can be increased in steps of 10 mg or 20 mg at weekly intervals, up to 70 mg.
- BED – The recommended starting dose is 30 mg. This dose can be increased in steps of 10 mg or 20 mg at weekly intervals, up to 50 mg to 70 mg.
If you take too much Vyvanse, you could risk having an overdose. If you do take too much, talk to your doctor or call an ambulance immediately and tell them how much Vyvanse you’ve taken.
If you forget to take Vyvanse, wait until the next day to take your next dose. Taking Vyvanse later in the day, and then again less than 24 hours later, puts you at risk of taking too much of the medication.
Vyvanse and alcohol
No warnings are given for drinking alcohol whilst taking Vyvanse. Talk to your physician if you’re concerned about drinking alcohol whilst using Vyvanse.
Vyvanse side effects
If you take Vyvanse you may experience side effects.
Most commonly, children and adults taking it for ADHD may experience some of the following side effects. They tend to occur in around 5% of patients.
- Upper abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
The most common side effects caused by Vyvanse (5% or more of patients) in adults taking it for BED include:
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling jittery
- Dry mouth
- Decreased appetite
The more serious side effects that Vyvanse can cause include:
- Serious allergic reactions
- Serious cardiovascular reactions (heart attacks, strokes, and even death)
- Increases in heart rate and blood pressure
- Adverse psychological reactions, like psychotic and manic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusional thinking
- Suppression of growth in children and adolescents, particularly in children aged six to 12
- Blood flow and pressure issues in the legs, feet, arms and hands (peripheral vasculopathy)
- Serotonin syndrome – a reaction to medications that alter serotonin levels that can be life-threatening
If you, or your child, experience any of the following, you should call your physician or the emergency services right away:
- Signs of a serious allergic reaction, like difficulties breathing or swallowing, itchiness and hives, lightheadedness, and heart palpitations
- Signs of heart problems, like chest pain or shortness of breath
- Any new or worsening mental health problems
- Unexplained wounds appearing on fingers or toes (a sign of peripheral vasculopathy)
Vyvanse sexual side effects
Vyvanse can cause some sexual side effects. These include erectile dysfunction and prolonged erections for men. Both men and women can experience changes in their desire for sex (libido) too, both decreases and increases.
These sexual side effects don’t occur for most people who take Vyvanse. You may experience them, you may not, and you won’t know until you try Vyvanse. Talk to your physician if you’re worried about sexual side effects and if you experience them whilst taking Vyvanse.
You may feel withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking Vyvanse, even if you’re not physically dependent on it. Vyvanse withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Problems sleeping
Withdrawal symptoms usually last for a few days but can continue for weeks. It can vary depending on your reaction to the medication, how long you’ve been taking it, and the dose you take.
Talk to your physician if you’d like to stop taking Vyvanse. They may recommend you gradually reduce your dose to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
Vyvanse isn’t suitable for everyone. You shouldn’t take Vyvanse if you:
- Are allergic to any of the ingredients found in Vyvanse including the active ingredient lisdexamfetamine
- Are allergic to other amphetamine products
- Are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like linezolid, or have taken MAOIs in the last 14 days
- Have serious heart problems, like structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart arrhythmia, or coronary artery disease
- Are under six years of age for children with ADHD
- Are under 18 years of age for adults with BED
It is important to talk to your physician before taking Vyvanse if you:
- Have a severe kidney condition
- Have a pre-existing psychotic disorder, or a history of depression, bipolar disorder, or manic episodes
- Have addiction to alcohol or any drugs
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Are over 65 years of age
Vyvanse drug interactions
Vyvanse can interact with other medications. In some instances, this can change how it and other medications work. It can even increase the likelihood and severity of some side effects. Medications that are known or thought to interact with Vyvanse include:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, MAOIs, (tranylcypromine, isocarboxazid, phenelzine, or selegiline)
- CYP2D6 inhibitors (paroxetine, fluoxetine, quinidine, or ritonavir)
- Urinary alkalinizing agents (acetazolamide)
- Urinary acidifying agents (ammonium chloride, sodium acid, phosphate, or methenamine salts)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (desipramine or protriptyline)
- Medications that affect your serotonin system (SSRI or SNRI antidepressants, triptans, fentanyl, or St. John’s Wort)
What is the difference between Adderall and Vyvanse?
Adderall is a similar medication to Vyvanse. Both are central nervous system stimulants derived from amphetamines, and both are used to treat ADHD. Vyvanse is also used to treat BED, but Adderall isn’t.
Although the two medications are similar and work in a similar way, they contain different active ingredients. Adderall contains four different kinds of amphetamine salts, whereas Vyvanse only contains levoamphetamine, which is converted to dextroamphetamine inside your body.
Both Vyvanse and Adderall are effective treatments for ADHD, and they cause similar side effects. Because Vyvanse only has an effect once it’s been converted in your body, it’s thought to have a lower risk of abuse than Adderall.
How does Vyvanse make you feel?
People react to medications differently. Vyvanse can improve your focus, make you feel more alert, and help reduce impulsivity. It can have side effects though. Some people report that Vyvanse makes them feel tired, irritable, and nauseated. These side effects are felt less often than the benefits of Vyvanse, however.
How long does it take for Vyvanse to work?
This varies by person. It depends on your condition, your health, and how you react to the medication. For most people, Vyvanse takes between two to twelve hours to affect you.
How long does Vyvanse stay in your system?
This depends on how your body reacts to the medication and the dose you take. On average, Vyvanse stays in your blood for up to eight hours and in your urine for around three days.
How much does Vyvanse cost?
Without insurance, prices for Vyvanse will vary depending on where you buy it and the number of capsules or chewable tablets per pack. As a guide, a pack of 30 capsules will cost between $200 to $250, a pack of 60 between $400 and $500, and a pack of 90 between around $590 and $770.
Vyvanse may be covered by your healthcare plan, but you may have to make co-payments. With Prescription Care you may be able to get Vyvanse for a flat fee of only $49 per month. See how we can help you access affordable Vyvanse medication.