What is Vyvanse?
Vyvanse, known under the active ingredient name lisdexamfetamine, is a central nervous system stimulant that works on chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to issues with hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Other drugs included in the class of central nervous system stimulants include Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin.There is no generic form of Vyvanse currently available for prescription in the United States, and no generic form is expected until at least 2023, when the brand name manufacturer’s patent expires. Vyvanse is offered as a prescription drug only and is not available for sale over the counter. Vyvanse is a Schedule II controlled substance as classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning it is at the highest level of control for drugs that can be obtained with a prescription. This classification is due to the medication’s significant potential to produce physical dependence or addiction in people who take it.
What is Vyvanse Used to Treat?
Vyvanse is FDA-approved for the treatment Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults and in children between the ages of six and seventeen. The medication is also approved for the treatment of moderate to severe Binge Eating Disorder (BED) in adults. Additional information about the symptoms of each of these conditions is provided below.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD)
ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders in children. The condition is typically recognized in children and frequently continues into adulthood, although some adults do not receive their diagnosis until later in life. ADHD symptoms include trouble paying attention, may struggle to control impulsive behaviors, and may be overly active (hyperactive). Some people with ADHD struggle predominantly with inattention; these people may have difficulty organizing or finishing a task, paying attention to details, or following instructions or conversations. People with ADHD who struggle predominantly with hyperactivity and impulse control may fidget or talk excessively, struggle to sit still, or feel restless constantly. Most people have some symptoms of each aspect of the condition.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder, or BED, is one of the newest eating disorders recognized by psychologists and medical professionals; the disorder was first added to the DSM-V in 2013. BED is characterized by recurring episodes of eating abnormally large quantities of food, a feeling of loss of control during a bingeing episode, experiencing shame, distress or guilt after an episode. People with BED often eat to the point of extreme discomfort and may eat very quickly. The disorder is not marked by purging behaviors, so unlike with bulimia, a patient diagnosed with BED will not engage in any form of purging, like vomiting or laxative abuse.
How Does Vyvanse Work to Treat ADHD and BED?
Vyvanse treats ADHD and BED by increasing norepinephrine and dopamine levels, thereby altering the balance of chemicals in the brain. Norepinephrine is a stimulant, while dopamine affects the feeling of pleasure and reward. As the balance of these chemicals changes, individuals with ADHD notice an improvement in their attention spans and ability to control hyperactive behaviors. Those with BED find that they binge less frequently.
How Long Does Vyvanse Last?
Vyvanse is one of the longest-lasting stimulant medications on the market for the treatment of ADHD. Vyvanse contains the stimulant amphetamine, but also includes a compound called lysine. Because your body must absorb all of the lysine to get the entire dose of the amphetamine, Vyvanse can last for up to 14 hours. Most people find that this length of time covers the time during the day where focus is required, and they are still able to go to sleep after the medication has worn off.
How Much Does Vyvanse Cost?
Because Vyvanse is still sold under the patent of the original manufacturer, no generic form of the medication is available yet. As a result, Vyvanse can be extremely expensive which is why you may want to consider a pharmacy discount card. Patients should expect to pay approximately $373 for a 30-day supply of the medication, regardless of the strength.
What are the Benefits of Using Vyvanse?
Unlike some other central nervous system (cns) stimulants, Vyvanse is long-acting, so it only needs to be daken once a day in the morning, making scheduling of the medication more convenient. Vyvanse can be swallowed whole, or, for people who have difficulty swallowing pills, the contents can be mixed with water, orange juice, or yogurt. Vyvanse is also available in a chewable form. Unlike other stimulants that may have a shorter half-life, Vyvanse is released steadily throughout the day, so it does not noticeably wear off. Vyvanse is also approved for use in children with ADHD between the ages of six and seventeen.
How Do I Know Which Dose of Vyvanse I Should Take?
Vyvanse can only be taken when prescribed by a healthcare provider, so make sure to speak to your healthcare provider about the dose of your medication and how often it should be taken. The appropriate dose of Vyvanse will vary depending on the age of the person being treated, the condition being treated, and the underlying medical history of the patient. The recommended starting dose for treatment of ADHD in patients ages six and older is 30 mg, taken once daily in the morning. Your doctor will want to start you off on the lowest strength of the medication possible in order to reduce the likelihood of dependence or addiction. The dosage may be increased in increments of 10 to 20 mg per day on a weekly basis, with a maximum daily dose of 70 mg per day. Treatment of moderate to severe BED in adults is also recommended to begin at 30 mg per day, taken in the morning. The dose should be adjusted in increments of 20 mg on a weekly basis in order to achieve the desired effect. The maximum recommended daily dose for the treatment of moderate to severe BED in adults is 70 mg per day.
How Do I Use Vyvanse to Treat ADHD or BED?
Because Vyvanse is a stimulant medication, it should be taken in the morning. The medication can be taken with or without food, but should not be taken in the afternoon due to the potential for insomnia. Vyvanse capsules may be swallowed whole, or the capsule may be opened and the contents emptied and mixed into yogurt, water, or orange juice. The mixture should be consumed immediately and should not be stored. Vyvanse chewable tablets should be chewed thoroughly. It is important that the entire dose of either the capsule or the chewable tablet be taken daily; single doses should not be divided.
Are There any Side Effects I Should Be Aware of?
Side effects of Vyvanse range from common to less common and may differ depending on the diagnosis being treated with Vyvanse. Common side effects associated with treatment of ADHD include:
- Decreased appetite
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Upper stomach pain
- Weight loss
Common side effects associated with treatment of moderate to severe BED include
- Dry mouth
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling jittery
- Less common side effects associated with Vyvanse include:
- Quick to react or overreact emotionally
- Rapidly changing moods
- Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
Be on the lookout for signs of psychological and/or physical dependence on Vyvanse. Symptoms of dependence may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Body aches
It is possible to overdose on Vyvanse. Symptoms of overdose associated with Vyvanse include:
- Abdominal or stomach cramps
- Blurred vision
- Change in consciousness
- Dark-colored urine
- Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- Rapid breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Muscle pain or stiffness
- Overactive reflexes
- Panic states
- Physical attempt to injure yourself
- Pounding in the ears
- Shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
- Trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
- Violent actions
If you experience an allergic reaction to Vyvanse, you should seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Rash or hives
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Swelling of lips, tongue, or face
- Rapid heartbeat
Why Does Vyvanse Carry a Risk of Dependency?
Because Vyvanse has a high potential for psychological and physical dependence and the likelihood to become habit forming, the medication comes with several warnings for use. However, the medication is different from some other drugs that cause dependence issues. Vyvanse cannot be snorted or injected, as the medication cannot be metabolized unless it is swallowed, and it does not produce immediate or more intense effects when taken this way. Unlike some drugs, Vyvanse does not give people a feeling of a “high” like marijuana or opioids and does not produce a drunk feeling like alcohol. Instead, Vyvanse leads to a feeling of being focused and energetic. Vyvanse is also long-acting, so people do not experience the same “rush” that they may get with fast-acting stimulants. However, like all amphetamines, there is a risk of abuse and addiction associated with Vyvanse. Amphetamines act on the parts of the brain that control feelings of pleasure and reward, so if the brain is exposed to them for long periods of time, it can begin to depend on the amphetamines. People who are addicted or physically dependent on Vyvanse are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug is stopped abruptly.
Are There Any Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Vyvanse?
Because Vyvanse is habit-forming and can lead to dependence and addiction, psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms can occur if the medication is stopped abruptly. If you’ve been taking Vyvanse regularly for more than two weeks, you must gradually wean off the medication under the supervision of a doctor to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring. The longer you have taken Vyvanse, the more likely you are to experience withdrawal. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Changes in mood
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased appetite
- Strange dreams
If you are severely dependent on Vyvanse, you could experience more serious symptoms, especially if the medication is stopped abruptly. These include:
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Changes in mood or behavior that require professional treatment
Is it Possible to Overdose On Vyvanse?
It is possible to overdose on Vyvanse and have a serious or potentially fatal reaction to high levels of the stimulant. Individuals who become dependent on the drug may find themselves taking more and more of the medication to produce the same calming effect. Eventually, this can lead to overdose, which is one of the reasons it is so important to take Vyvanse only as prescribed. Signs of an overdose include:
- Overactive reflexes
- Rapid breathing
- High fever
- High or low blood pressure
- Abdominal cramps
Medical attention should immediately be sought in the event of an overdose or possible overdose of Vyvanse.
Who Should Not Take Vyvanse?
Due to the long list of adverse effects and the possibility for psychological and physical dependence, some groups of people should not take Vyvanse. These groups include:
- People with a history of drug or alcohol dependence.
- People who are taking or have taken an anti-depression medicine called an MAOI within the past 14 days
- Children under the age of 6.
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Vyvanse can cause premature births, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in babies. Pregnant and nursing women should not take Vyvanse.
- People who are sensitive, allergic to, or have had a reaction to other stimulants.
- Additionally, some people with certain medical conditions should use extreme caution when taking Vyvanse. Make sure to tell your doctor if you have experienced any of the following:
- Heart problems, heart defects, high blood pressure, or family history of these problems, as sudden death has occurred in people with these issues taking stimulant medications.
- Psychiatric issues or a family history of suicide, bipolar illness, or depression.
- Circulation problems in the fingers and/or toes
- Slow growth in children
- Symptoms of serotonin syndrome, including agitation, hallucinations, coma, or changes in mental health, problems controlling movements or muscle twitching, stiffness, or tightness, fast heartbeat, sweating or fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- History of drug or alcohol addiction
- Use of narcotic/opioid medication
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