Mixing Vyvanse and alcohol can make it harder to tell when you’re drunk. This can put you at risk for alcohol poisoning, alcohol abuse and risky behaviors.
Vyvanse, the brand name for the stimulant lisdexamfetamine, is a Schedule II controlled substance that is FDA-approved for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and binge eating disorder. Drinking while taking a stimulant like Vyvanse is not uncommon. One study showed that almost half of college students taking a stimulant for non-medical reasons had consumed alcohol with the stimulant within the past year.
Evidence does not show a link between drinking problems and taking a Vyvanse prescription correctly, but that’s not true for misusing the drug. Misused stimulants can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Misuse applies to many things, including taking Vyvanse to get high or taking more of the drug than prescribed. In fact, experts think mixing any stimulant with alcohol at all is misuse. If you’re taking Vyvanse, and intentionally drink alcohol, you’re at a higher risk of drinking problems.
Article at a Glance:
- Vyvanse is a Schedule II controlled substance often prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Although there are few short-term side effects of combining Vyvanse and alcohol, there are longer-term dangers.
- Risks include a higher rate of polysubstance abuse and an increase in risk-taking behaviors.
- Treating polysubstance abuse can be complex, but The Recovery Village can help you overcome your struggle with Vyvanse and drinking.
Side Effects from Mixing Vyvanse and Alcohol
Although some stimulants have a direct drug interaction with alcohol, Vyvanse is not one of them. Studies have shownthat short-term side effects are minimal when stimulants are combined with alcohol. However, few studies have been conducted in humans, and lisdexamfetamine (the active component in Vyvanse) has not been studied. Nonetheless, recorded side effects from mixing stimulants and alcohol have included:
- Being able to drink more alcohol than usual without feeling drunk
- Gastrointestinal side effects
Beyond these rarer, short-term side effects, Vyvanse has side effects on its own that may still come into play. People mixing these substances also face several long-term risks.
Dangers of Mixing Vyvanse and Alcohol
Although there is no clear drug interaction between alcohol and Vyvanse, there are hidden dangers to the combination. Combining the two substances has other long-term risks far beyond its short-term side effects, especially if you’re misusing prescribed Vyvanse or taking it without a medical reason.
Less chance of realizing you are drunk
Mixing alcohol and Vyvanse can mask feelings of being drunk. The stimulant effects of lisdexamfetamine can hide how drunk you really are, so you continue drinking despite severe intoxication. You may not feel like you’re highly intoxicated, but you’re still experiencing alcohol poisoning and its deadly complications. Since so many of the side effects of Vyvanse are psychological, alcohol can heighten these as well.
Why does this happen? Combining alcohol with a stimulant may override the sedative effects of alcohol. Drinking can feel stimulating when you begin a drinking session, but eventually, sedation is a clue to your brain that you need to stop drinking. Without this, you can end up becoming extremely drunk without meaning to.
Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.
Higher likelihood of alcohol misuse
Recent studies show people who misuse Vyvanse and drink may be at a higher risk of abusing alcohol and severe drinking addiction. A person who misuses stimulants like Vyvanse is 2.4 times more likely to struggle with drinking than someone who doesn’t. They’re also 4.7 times more likely to struggle with a combination of alcohol and another substance. Stimulant misuse is also linked to an increased rate of binge drinking and societal consequences from alcohol.
Risk of polysubstance abuse
Because both alcohol and Vyvanse are addictive substances, misusing them puts you at risk of polysubstance abuse, or addiction to multiple substances at the same time. The polysubstance abuse combination of stimulants and alcohol puts you at a higher risk of mental health problems, poor physical health and severe addiction. When you’re ready to quit, polysubstance abuse often means a more complicated detox and rehab process.
Increase in risk-taking behaviors
People who drink while misusing a stimulant are more likely to have an increase in risky behaviors and interpersonal problems, often because they don’t realize how drunk they are. These include:
- Driving under the influence
- Having a vehicular accident
- Getting into a physical fight
- Having legal problems
- Being a crime victim
- Regretting a sexual experience performed under the influence
- Being sexually assaulted
- Sexually assaulting someone
Talk to Your Doctor
The dangers of combining alcohol with Vyvanse can be serious. It’s important to not only consider the alcohol in beverages but also in common foods, household items and medications. These include:
- Food flavorings like vanilla extract
- Some kinds of vinegar
- Some types of dijon mustard
- Béarnaise or bordelaise sauces
- Some desserts like black forest cake, fruit cake, and liqueur-filled chocolates
- Cooking sprays
- Some mouthwashes
- Some antihistamines for allergies
- Some cough syrups
- Liquid versions of many prescription medications
Your doctor is a good source of advice about what specific risks these products — and drinking in general — may pose to you while you are on Vyvanse. If you take medications or other products that contain alcohol, your doctor can help you pick alcohol-free alternatives.
Getting the Help You Need
It can be hard to know where to start if you struggle with Vyvanse and drinking. Finding specialized treatment to detox and recover from both substances can be challenging. Our addiction specialists at The Recovery Village are experts in helping people recover from polysubstance addictions, including Vyvanse and alcohol. Contact us today to discuss treatment options that can meet your needs.
How Long Does Vyvanse Stay in Your System?
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Vyvanse.” October 30, 2019. Accessed October 8, 2020.
Quinn, Patrick D; Chang, Zheng; Hur, Kwan; et al. “ADHD Medication and Substance-Related Problems.” American Journal of Psychiatry, September 1, 2018. Accessed October 8, 2020.
Sepúlveda, Dalissa R; Thomas, Lisl M; McCabe, Sean Esteban; et al. “Misuse of Prescribed Stimulant Medicatio[…]ong College Students.” Journal of Pharmacy Practice, February 13, 2012. Accessed October 8, 2020.
Wilens, Timothy; Zulauf, Courtney; Martelon, MaryKate; et al. “Nonmedical Stimulant Use in College Stud[…] and other disorders.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, March 28, 2019. Accessed October 8, 2020.
Medscape. “Drug Interaction Checker.” Accessed October 8, 2020.
Egan, Kathleen L; Reboussin, Beth A; Blocker, Jill N; et al. “Simultaneous Use of Non-Medical ADHD Pre[…]dergraduate Students.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, July 1, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Barkla, Xanthe M; McArdle, Paul A; Newbury-Birch, Dorothy. “Are there any potentially dangerous phar[…]ew of the literature.” BMC Psychiatry, October 30, 2015. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Timko, Christine; Han, Xiaotong; Woodhead, Erin; et al. “Polysubstance Use by Stimulant Users: He[…]mes Over Three Years.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, September 2018. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Ackerman, Sigurd. “Alcohol: In More Foods Than You May Know.” Patch.com, December 22, 2011. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Beasley, Joseph. “Alcohol Content in Common Preparations.” Medical Society of the State of New York, 2000. Accessed October 9, 2020.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.