Vyvanse, or lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults as well as to treat moderate-to-severe binge eating disorder (BED) in adults. When used according to the prescribed directions by someone who is authentically diagnosed with the disorder, the medication can result in calmed energy, increased focus, and a suppressed appetite.
When someone who has not been diagnosed with either of these disorders uses Vyvanse, it can have the same effect as the abuse of any stimulant drug, such as cocaine or methamphetamine.\
That is, Vyvanse abuse can cause various adverse effects such as:
- Increased rate of breath
- Higher blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Higher blood sugar
- Physical dependence
- Psychological dependence
Snorting and smoking Vyvanse are two ways the drug can be abused. Even with a legitimate doctor’s prescription for the drug and an appropriate diagnosis, an individual who crushes the pill and snorts or smokes the contents is at risk.
Use and Abuse
Vyvanse is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means the substance has verified medical use but also comes with a high risk of abuse and addiction, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). A Vyvanse prescription written by a doctor for the treatment of ADHD or BED comes with directions for use. Generally taken just once a day, Vyvanse is an extended-release capsule that continually releases a mini dose of the substance throughout the day to allow the person a steady and maintained effect.
Taking the drug exactly as prescribed is standard use. Going outside of these boundaries in any form or fashion is abuse, including crushing the drug. When an extended-release pill is crushed and ingested, it releases into the body a day’s worth of doses all at once. This can cause a rush or a high, but it also puts extreme stress on the body and the brain, and it can trigger unwanted mental health issues and medical emergencies.
When Vyvanse is swallowed whole, it can take between 30 and 45 minutes for the first release to be absorbed into the system. As an extended-release drug, this process will repeat throughout the day until gone, providing continued medication support to the user for about eight hours.
When Vyvanse is crushed, and the insides of the capsule are snorted, all the doses are released into the system within three to five minutes. This method of delivery affects different regions of the brain compared to the brain regions affected after the drug is swallowed.
Prescription stimulants like Vyvanse impact both the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. When the capsules are opened, and the insides are smoked, these systems are hit fast and hard with a dose that is far larger than the extended-release capsule would allow for if taken orally.
Smoking Vyvanse is often a social choice made at a club or party. In this context, it is usually one of several substances that are being passed around and shared. Unfortunately, this means the individual will not only be subject to the effects of Vyvanse abuse but also the amplified effects of the drug when it is combined with other drugs, including alcohol and marijuana. Polydrug use is exceptionally dangerous and can increase the risk of experiencing an acute medical emergency, including a fatal overdose.
Dangers of Smoking or Snorting Drugs
There are high rates of admission to the emergency room because of medical emergencies caused by the use of prescription stimulants like Vyvanse. According to a study published in 2016 by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry based on data taken from 2006 to 2011, it was found that:
- More males than females experienced a prescription stimulant medical emergency, 58.5 percent and 40.3 percent respectively.
- The 12–17 age group had the highest rates of ER admission due to stimulant use at 43 percent, with the second highest rates attributed to people in the 18–25 age range at 21.9 percent.
- In 2006, rates of emergency room admissions were highest at 3,018, with 2007 close behind with 2,900 admissions. Throughout the next five years, rates of ER admissions ranged between 2,208 and 2,522.
- Emergency room admissions happened primarily among Caucasians; they accounted for 85.4 percent of admissions. African Americans came in at a distant second with 7.9 percent of admissions, followed by Hispanic Americans at 3.9 percent.
- Older people are not out of the equation when it comes to experiencing a medical emergency as a result of stimulant abuse. The 35–49 age group accounted for 15.5 percent of ER admissions, higher than the 26–34 age group rate of 11.4 percent. The over-50 age group was not immune, however, with 8.1 percent rate of the emergency room admission rates.
Some Reasons For Admission To The Emergency Room Due To Snorting Or Smoking Vyvanse Can Include:
Heart attack, dangerously high body temperature, seizure, or arrhythmia as a result of overwhelming the autonomic or central nervous systems
Amplified effects of the drug
Amplified effects of the drug due to mixing Vyvanse with the use of other substances
Alcohol poisoning, which occurs because individuals who smoke or snort Vyvanse cannot feel the effects of alcohol and end up drinking more than they usually would
Respiratory issues, which can include interstitial lung disease, nasal septum perforation, reactive airway disease, infections, bronchoconstriction, and alveolar hemorrhage
Regular abuse of Vyvanse can very quickly lead to addiction to the drug, especially when ingested by smoking or snorting. These methods of abuse engage areas of the brain associated with the development of addiction, increasing the likelihood of experiencing cravings, one of the signs of psychological dependence on the drug. Whether used as a party drug, or as a means of staying awake to focus at work or school, or to lose weight, continued smoking or snorting of Vyvanse can quickly add up to a slew of mental and physical health problems, including an addiction disorder.
Treatment For Abuse and Addiction
A well-rounded addiction treatment program is recommended for those who cannot curb their use of Vyvanse to meet the guidelines of their prescription or to stop all use of the drug if they do not have a prescription. The best treatment option will provide medical monitoring for co-occurring physical health issues that may have resulted during active Vyvanse abuse. Treatment also may include therapeutic treatments to identify the underlying issues associated with the addiction disorder and to treat symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders that may be contributing to the problem.
Though there are currently no FDA-approved medications approved for the treatment of stimulant drug addiction, behavioral therapies have been proven to be effective in helping clients to stop the use of Vyvanse and to start learning how to live a new life in recovery.