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Medically Reviewed

The Dangers of Mixing Vyvanse and Alcohol

- 4 sections

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

medically-verified

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

It can always be risky to mix substances with alcohol, including commonly used prescription medications like Vyvanse. Alcohol carries its own set of short- and long-term risks, and when you combine it with other substances, it enhances these.

How Does Vyvanse Work?

Vyvanse is a prescription medicine primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. It’s also used less often to treat binge eating disorder. The medication’s active ingredient is lisdexamfetamine, which stimulates the central nervous system. When used as prescribed, Vyvanse is meant to improve focus, attention span and impulse control.

Vyvanse’s effects are primarily due to the ability to increase neurotransmitter levels in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. These are neurotransmitters that regulate your mood, behavior and attention. Since the drug enhances their activity, it can reduce ADHD symptoms, promoting a calmer, more focused and stable state of mind.

Specific effects of this ADHD prescription medicine include:

  • Better focus and cognitive function, so it’s easier if you have ADHD to keep your attention on activities and tasks.
  • Feelings of alertness, wakefulness and higher energy levels.
  • Many people say their mood is improved while they’re on Vyvanse, and they experience decreased impulsivity and irritability.
  • Reduced appetite.

Vyvanse, when used as prescribed, can be very effective as a treatment for ADHD and binge eating disorder, but it also has a risk of abuse and dependence. When someone abuses it, these risks are even higher. Abuse can include taking higher doses than what you’re prescribed or using it without a prescription.

Vyvanse abuse can lead to serious complications along with addiction, including heart-related issues and psychiatric disorders.

What About the Effects of Alcohol?

Alcohol in the short-term can have a wide range of effects. It’s a depressant, and initially, when you drink, you might feel euphoric or relaxed because it also affects your brain’s neurotransmitter activities but differently than Vyvanse.

Alcohol can also:

  • Impair your judgment, leading to risky behaviors and problematic decision-making.
  • Impaired coordination and motor skills, so you might notice your speech is slurred, or you’re struggling to move as usual.
  • You might experience changes in your perception of sensations, sounds and sights.
  • Alcohol can reduce your inhibitions, so you’re at a greater likelihood of engaging in activities you wouldn’t normally do.
  • Drinking can impair your short-term memory.
  • Short-term alcohol consumption can temporarily increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Drinking excessively can cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Since it’s a diuretic, alcohol increases urine production and can lead to dehydration.

What Happens If You’re Mixing Vyvanse and Alcohol?

If you mix Vyvanse and alcohol, both substances have distinct effects on your brain and body. Combining them can amplify the impact and increase the risk of negative complications. It can even be life-threatening to combine the two.

Some of the risks of mixing Vyvanse and alcohol can include:

  • More strain on the cardiovascular system. While Vyvanse is a stimulant that raises heart rate and blood pressure, alcohol is a depressant that can also affect cardiovascular function. Combining the two can put increased strain on your heart and blood vessels, and that can then lead to palpitations, irregular heart rhythms and stroke or heart attack in severe circumstances.
  • Masking how intoxicated you are. If you take Vyvanse and drink, it can hide the effects of being drunk, so you might underestimate how impaired you are. That raises the risk of being involved in dangerous activities like driving under the influence.
  • Higher overdose risk. Both Vyvanse and alcohol affect the central nervous system, so combining them can lead to depressed breathing, loss of consciousness or overdose.
  • Impaired decision-making and judgment. Both substances impair your cognitive function, judgment, impulse control, and decision-making. If you combine the two, these effects can be worse.
  • Higher addiction risk. When you combine substances, it can raise the risk of a substance use disorder, or it can make existing addiction issues worse. There’s a reinforcing effect of both substances that leads to compulsive use and, eventually, dependence.
  • Worsening mental health symptoms. Vyvanse is usually prescribed to treat a psychiatric condition (ADHD), so alcohol can then exacerbate this condition, and it can also interact with other psychiatric medications. If you mix the two, it can cause anxiety, agitation, mood swings and other psychiatric disturbances.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Vyvanse and alcohol irritate the GI tract, potentially causing symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Other things to be aware of concerning mixing Vyvanse and alcohol include:

  • Vyvanse can affect how your body metabolizes alcohol, leading to slower clearance from your system. That means you might experience prolonged alcohol effects, raising the risk of associated consequences.
  • Both substances can lead to dehydration.
  • Alcohol can interfere with how effective Vyvanse is, so it diminishes its therapeutic effects.
  • The liver metabolizes both substances, so consuming them at the same time can contribute to liver toxicity or damage.

It’s essential to recognize the significant risks of combining Vyvanse and alcohol for your mental and physical health. It can also cause social and legal consequences.

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If you feel like you’re struggling with substance abuse, including with multiple substances, our team can help. We encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about addiction treatment programs so you can begin the recovery process.

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