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What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse, which is the brand name of the drug lisdexamfetamine, is a prescription medication and controlled substance used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHA). 

It is also the only FDA-approved drug used to treat binge eating disorder in adults.

Vyvanse pills

Side Effects of Vyvanse

Vyvanse is a relatively safe drug with mostly only mild to moderate side effects, including:

  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • False sense of well-being
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upper Abdominal Pain
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability

Vyvanse increases serotonin levels. In some cases, this leads to a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome. This risk is elevated even more for those taking other serotonin-increasing drugs.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe dizziness
  • Severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Twitching muscles
  • Unexplained fever
  • Unusual agitation/restlessness

Vyvanse affects heart health and can elevate blood pressure, which puts users at risk of serious health problems.

Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about heart health issues or if you notice an increase in blood pressure while using this drug.

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What is the Proper Way to Take Vyvanse?

You can take Vyvanse on a full or empty stomach. You should avoid taking the medication with acidic foods. Some users report losing their appetite when taking this medication. 

Use this drug according to your doctor’s directions. Any use of the drug without a doctor’s prescription is considered abuse.

Is it Safe to Mix Vyvanse and Alcohol? 

Like most prescription medications, drinking alcohol is not recommended when taking Vyvanse. However, there is no official warning regarding the safety of mixing Vyvanse and alcohol.

Despite no official recommendations, there are a couple of concerns regarding the mix of alcohol and Vyvanse. For instance:

Heart Health

Vyvanse is classified as an amphetamine. Combining amphetamines and alcohol raises blood pressure and increases heart activity. This raises the risk of existing heart health problems.

Additionally, heart problems are a known risk of Vyvanse use, even for those without any prior heart health issues.

Risk of Alcohol Poisoning

Vyvanse acts as a central nervous system stimulant. When taken with alcohol, these types of drugs tend to mask the effects of alcohol. 

Someone using Vyvanse and drinking is at risk of over-drinking because they won’t feel the usual effects of alcohol. Alcohol intoxication is a risk with Vyvanse.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol and Vyvanse?

Despite the risk, some people choose to drink alcohol when taking Vyvanse. They might have an existing issue with alcohol use or they might want to find out how the mix of the two drugs makes them feel. 

Some people self-medicate mental health issues by mixing these and other drugs. Instead of seeking treatment for their condition, they numb their feelings using drugs and/or alcohol.

The mix of Vyvanse and alcohol produces a euphoric feeling. This feeling is one of the main reasons why the risk of addiction is increased when you mix the two substances. People return to use Vyvanse and alcohol to achieve that sensation.

Most people find that Vyvanse enables them to drink more without experiencing the dulling or sedation effects of being drunk. They feel the positive, upbeat feeling of drinking without the numbing or depressive effects.

Side Effects of Mixing Vyvanse and Alcohol

Mixing Vyvanse and alcohol produces several side effects, including:

  • Masks the sedating effects of alcohol
  • Boosts the likelihood someone will engage in risky behavior 
  • Increases risk of heart health problems
  • Increases risk of alcohol intoxication

Psychological effects include impaired judgment and decision-making ability as well as increased risk-taking behavior.

Risks & Dangers of Mixing Vyvanse and Alcohol

Mixing alcohol and prescription drugs is always risky because of drug interactions. Mixing Vyvanse and alcohol poses a variety of risks and dangers. For example:

Less Chance of Realizing You’re Drunk

When someone drinks alcohol when taking Vyvanse, they impede their ability to recognize the effects of alcohol. The usual amount of alcohol that makes you drunk won’t seem to affect you in the same way. 

You don’t need more alcohol to achieve drunkenness, but it will seem as if you do. This puts you at risk of a variety of problems, including alcohol intoxication (poisoning).

Higher Risk of Alcohol Misuse

Drinking more than usual and not feeling the effects of alcohol in the same way as you would without Vyvanse increases your risk of misusing alcohol. 

You’ll experience a false sense of “confidence” and need to drink more and more to achieve the desired effect. Increasing your alcohol consumption puts you at a greater risk of alcohol misuse.

Higher Risk of Alcohol Poisoning

 Because Vyvanse enables you to drink more, you stand a higher risk of alcohol poisoning (intoxication).

Alcohol intoxication is a potentially deadly condition. Symptoms include:

  • Decreased body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular or slowed breathing
  • Pale or blue-tinged skin
  • Seizures
  • Passing out
  • Coma
  • Death

Higher Risk of Overdose 

Mixing alcohol and Vyvanse puts you at risk of overdosing on the medication. Alcohol minimizes the effect of the drug. In some cases, someone will consume excess quantities of Vyvanse to enhance the effects the drug has on alcohol consumption.

The goal when mixing the drug and alcohol is to achieve a euphoric effect, but it requires a balance of the two. When someone adjusts their dose when misusing the drug, it puts them at risk of overdosing.

Symptom of Vyvanse overdose include:

  • Sped up breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Elevated or decreased blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Panic
  • High fever
  • Restlessness
  • Sensitive reflexes
  • Combative behavior
  • Stomach cramps
  • Hallucinations

Higher Risk of Psychosis 

Mixing alcohol and Vyvanse increases a person’s risk of psychosis. The two substances counteract the effects of each other. They have similar side effects, which are heightened when you mix them. 

Many people experience symptoms of psychosis, including:

  • Loss of memory
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia

Increase in Risk-Taking Behaviors 

Mixing Vyvanse and alcohol increases the odds you’ll engage in risky behavior. The drug dulls the effects of alcohol, so it’s difficult to recognize your level of drunkenness. 

In this state, you’re more likely to think you’re in control and drive or engage in risky sexual behavior because you don’t think you’re “really drunk.” 

Heart Health Risks

The mix of Vyvanse and alcohol increase your heart health risks. Mixing the two magnifies existing problems and triggers new problems. 

The blend increases your heart rate and causes high blood pressure. This puts you at a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and seizure. 

Ask your healthcare provider for medical advice if you’ve been prescribed Vyvanse and you are concerned about heart health.

Treatment for Vyvanse and Alcohol Addiction (Polysubstance Use)

Treating Vyvanse and alcohol addiction requires a polydrug use treatment approach.

Mixing alcohol and prescription drugs can be drug misuse. Vyvanse increases your risk of substance misuse and when combined with alcohol – a highly addictive substance – it puts you at a higher risk of addiction.

Treatment for Vyvanse and alcohol addiction requires a medically supervised detoxification phase, as well as ongoing addiction treatment support. Alcohol has an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal period. 

Nobody should attempt to detox from alcohol addiction on their own. This ensures the process is safe and reduces complications as much as possible. In some cases, patients receive medication to reduce the effects of alcohol withdrawal.

Successful recovery might require participation in a comprehensive residential treatment program. 

Alternatively, treatment is available on an outpatient basis. Regardless of whether you choose inpatient or outpatient therapy, treatment will likely include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Group and individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Participation in a 12-step program
  • Ongoing aftercare programs intended to provide relapse prevention and support

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Resources

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“Alcohol Poisoning - Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20354386.

Barkla, Xanthe M., et al. “Are There Any Potentially Dangerous Pharmacological Effects of Combining ADHD Medication with Alcohol and Drugs of Abuse? A Systematic Review of the Literature.” BMC Psychiatry, vol. 15, 30 Oct. 2015, p. 270, https://www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26517983/, 10.1186/s12888-015-0657-9.

Egan, Kathleen L., et al. “Simultaneous Use of Non-Medical ADHD Prescription Stimulants and Alcohol among Undergraduate Students.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 131, no. 1-2, July 2013, pp. 71–77, 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.12.004. https://www. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0376871612004802.

Quinn, Patrick D., et al. “ADHD Medication and Substance-Related Problems.” American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 174, no. 9, Sept. 2017, pp. 877–885, 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16060686. https://www.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28659039/.

Jones, Jermaine D., et al. “Polydrug Abuse: A Review of Opioid and Benzodiazepine Combination Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 125, no. 1-2, Sept. 2012, pp. 8–18, 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.07.004. https://www. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0376871612002785.

“Addiction Treatment at the UCLA Dual Diagnosis Program | Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.” www.semel.ucla.edu, https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/Conditions_Treated/Addictions.

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