Severe ADHD is frequently treated with prescription amphetamines, one such being Vyvanse (chemical name lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, also prescribed for narcolepsy and binge-eating disorder). The medication comes in pill form, formulated to improve concentration.
Prescription Drug Abuse
A problem common to most prescription drugs is that a number of patients become dissatisfied with the original prescription for not delivering everything they’d hoped for: not working “fast enough” or “thoroughly enough,” or losing some of its original effect over time. When that happens, people may decide (without their doctor’s permission or knowledge) to begin crushing pills and “snorting” the powder, or by dissolving the pills and injecting the solution.
These alternate channels do produce faster and more intense results. They also produce highly undesirable side effects:
- “Snorting” can damage the nasal membranes and respiratory system.
- Injecting scars the skin, bruises the veins, and (if the needle is not properly sterilized) spreads disease.
- Either approach encourages stronger and more frequent doses, which is often a fast route to physical tolerance, dependence, and ultimately addiction.
How Does Vyvanse Work?
One advantage of Vyvanse is that it eliminates the option of snorting or injecting for stronger effect. Vyvanse is a “prodrug,” meaning that its active ingredients are released only in reaction with gastrointestinal enzymes, i.e., when the medication is taken orally and enters the digestive system.
Introduced into the body by any other channel, Vyvanse remains an inert substance with little or no perceptible effect. Hence it was the first medication to receive FDA approval for being labeled “abuse resistant.”
Vyvanse Misuse: Still a Concern
Unfortunately, while the prodrug design may prevent snorting or injection, it can’t block the channel most misusers start with: taking more pills than prescribed. A larger oral dose may not produce much of a “rush,” but it will have a stronger effect, which is good enough for someone whose main goal is to get extra amphetamine for working longer or losing weight. While individual doctors can deny prescriptions or refills in an effort to limit someone’s Vyvanse supply, many people just go to additional doctors, forge prescriptions, or even request prescriptions for nonexistent ADHD. Or they switch to other amphetamines that are amenable to snorting and injecting.
It’s also worth noting that some people do attempt to snort Vyvanse—if only to confirm that getting a “high” that way is impossible—and this in itself can hurt the nose and respiratory organs. Sometimes, especially if someone experiences a “placebo-effect” high and develops the habit of regular Vyvanse snorting, introducing a foreign substance into the body can trigger vertigo, motor tics, facial swelling, vision problems, or even heart trouble.
What to Do?
The common-sense way to avoid these dangers is to take Vyvanse (if you take it at all) strictly according to prescription—and, if dissatisfied with the results, to get advice from your doctor before doing anything else. However, don’t berate yourself if you’ve already slipped into misuse. These things happen, and getting down on yourself will only make it harder to find your footing again.
In addition to coming clean with your prescribing doctor about any Vyvanse misuse, see an addiction medicine specialist if:
- You’ve even considered trying to snort or inject the drug, or obtain any Vyvanse through covert means
- You’re tempted to try other amphetamines because Vyvanse isn’t “doing the job” anymore
- You’ve tried to cut back on your Vyvanse use, but always seem to give in to temptation
- You’ve ever had symptoms of amphetamine overdose or withdrawal.
Whether it starts with a Vyvanse prescription or something else, amphetamine addiction needn’t be a life sentence—but it’s rarely something anyone can beat alone, especially while simultaneously battling ADHD or another co-occurring disorder. Get professional help, and hold on to hope for the future. Recovery is always an option!
Find Help at PACE Recovery
If you’re a young man who’s used prescription medications outside of medical instructions, and is now struggling with compulsive dependence on those medications, PACE Recovery can help. We understand your unique needs, and we’ll show you how to take your life back.
Our motto is “Positive Attitude Changes Everything.” Contact us for more information or to request an appointment.