Alternative to Meds Center has helped clients struggling with withdrawal from Vyvanse and other stimulant drugs for over 17 years. Holistic, medically monitored treatments can ease Vyvanse withdrawal. And, our goals include finding and addressing root causes for a person’s original symptoms.
Simply stopping a drug without also treating the original symptoms can create its own set of problems. The center has a very reassuring 87.5 % success rate. We hope the following information is useful in planning your safe and comfortable Vyvanse withdrawal experience. And the best part is finding relief without relying on prescription drugs.
Do Your Symptoms Require Vyvanse?
Does it seem surprising that physicians would ignore proven drug-free treatments, and prescribe amphetamines for ADHD in adults? And in young children? Or that amphetamines are prescribed to treat binge eating and other disorders when other treatments are available? Amphetamines are one of the most highly addictive drugs there are and are neurotoxic to the brain. Certainly, safer treatments may have been overlooked. You can find out about these below, and how they can support successful Vyvanse withdrawal without the return of unwanted symptoms.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Vyvanse withdrawals happen because amphetamine-based medications can quickly develop tolerance and dependence when taken regularly. Tolerance means more of the drug is needed to achieve the same effects as it did in the beginning. For example, at first, Vyvanse may produce a surge in energy, but this effect typically begins to wane over time.
Tolerance and dependence often appear together. A drug causes dependence by altering the way the central nervous system works. After the body becomes dependent on or addicted to a stimulant such as Vyvanse, its absence causes problematic reactions. Increasing the frequency or the dose of a stimulant can dampen these reactions. These reactions are termed Vyvanse withdrawals.1-6
Taking Vyvanse is not the same as taking methamphetamines or cocaine, or other stimulants. Vyvanse is what is called a “prodrug.” The body converts Vyvanse into pure amphetamine after ingesting it. The mechanics of altering the molecular structure of a psychoactive substance in the lab, allowing it to then be converted into pure amphetamine, does not alter its potential for abuse, dependence, tolerance, or addiction.16
Dopamine and Vyvanse Withdrawals
Stimulants target certain hormones or neurotransmitters such as dopamine and others. Vyvanse is thought to prevent or block the normal expression of these transmitters, resulting in abnormal concentrations of them. Researchers are still discovering what stimulants do to the brain. An animal study found that at higher levels of a stimulant, dopamine expression was enhanced, rather than inhibited. This resulted in an increased depletion of dopamine levels.7
Dopamine, the “reward chemical” or the “pleasure chemical,” also performs an extended range of other functions. And, a clear understanding of what those functions are can help to inform us why there can be such a range of Vyvanse withdrawals when the drug is stopped.
Dopamine sets the master dials for many body functions, aside from creating a pleasurable feeling as a response to rewarding stimuli. Looking at a sunset, eating an ice cream cone, or an embrace, for example, may signal a pleasurable dopamine surge.
Dopamine also regulates many essential workings of the body. A few examples described here illustrate just a very small piece of the extensive role dopamine plays in the body. And, there are many more — too many to list here. However, the following may illustrate its importance, especially in relation to Vyvanse withdrawal and fluctuating dopamine levels.
At low levels, dopamine dilates blood vessels, increases the pumping action of the heart, and prompts the kidneys to release more urine. Intermediate levels of dopamine increase the electrical firing of the heart and further increase blood flow. And, at even higher levels dopamine constricts blood vessels which reduces blood flow and can cause poor circulation in areas further away from the heart. When concentrations of dopamine (and other related elements) are abnormally low, or high, many responses follow such as the ones described above.
Amphetamine and Dopamine
Dopamine is created in the brain, meant to be released from the brain into the rest of the body via the nervous system. Once released, a very complex system of co-acting chemicals and enzymes, their receptors, and their nutritional precursors (the raw materials that get synthesized) all work together in a grand symphony to carry out these life-supporting functions. But once released, the blood-brain barrier prevents dopamine from being re-absorbed into the brain.
In contrast, amphetamines DO penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Amphetamines, being neurotoxic, do not create dopamine, but can cause these molecules to accumulate. Paradoxically, this can also accelerate the depletion of dopamine. Aging slowly reduces our dopamine neurons as we get older, but amphetamines in general speed up the rate of cell death.8
Amphetamines can destroy dopamine receptor cells and affect the other co-factors mentioned. This causes dysfunction as our natural chemicals try to compensate for these alterations, both within and outside the brain. After tolerance, dependence, and addiction develop, sudden Vyvanse withdrawal is a bit like throwing a bomb into the orchestra pit, and chaos ensues.9,10
Common Vyvanse Withdrawal Symptoms
These Vyvanse withdrawal effects are listed on the drug’s label, and in published research cited below.1,14
Common Vyvanse withdrawal symptoms can include:
Sleeping long hours, erratic sleep patterns
More Severe Symptoms of Vyvanse Withdrawals
Complications can arise such as psychosis, extreme agitation, or other severe psychiatric symptoms requiring hospitalization for management
Infants born to mothers taking stimulants can experience feeding difficulties, extreme drowsiness, irritability, and other symptoms similar to those in older populations.
When to Consider Coming Off Vyvanse
It has become common practice (25-70%) for doctors to suggest taking occasional “drug holidays” meaning to abstain from stimulant ADHD drugs for a period of time. This may be recommended to get disrupted sleep patterns back on track or to revive the appetite if it has become abnormally suppressed. Or, to see if side effects will go away, or if symptoms will further deteriorate.11
In children, ADHD drugs suppress normal growth and development, and taking medication “breaks” is routinely advised to mitigate such damage.
For an adult who has been diagnosed with a binge eating disorder or ADHD, the most common reasons for considering stopping Vyvanse include tolerance (the drug’s effects have waned) and the emergence of adverse effects that have developed. As much as a person may want to quit, however, suddenly stopping a drug like Vyvanse may create a new set of problems, such as the Vyvanse withdrawals described above. These occur after dependence has developed.
Additionally, if the root cause(s) for one’s original symptoms were never addressed, it is likely that these will re-emerge — a perfect storm that needs careful management to steer through successfully.
What Happens if You Stop Taking Vyvanse Suddenly?
Vyvanse withdrawals as described above will likely develop within a day or two. For many, these may be mild enough to tolerate, especially if the dose has remained low, and the length of time taking the drug was relatively short.
But because many doctors prescribe Vyvanse for months and years, at maximum dosages, sudden withdrawal can be disastrous. A person who has taken Vyvanse for a long time may already be experiencing cardiovascular issues, tissues breaking down or ulcerating, Raynaud’s disease (discoloration and reduced circulation in the fingers and lower limbs), injured neuronal function, mania, headaches, anxiety, or other impairments.1,14
Especially important, anyone with already impaired health should seek medical assistance for a gentle Vyvanse withdrawal program to avoid compounding such health problems. The good news is that once properly managed Vyvanse withdrawal has been completed, symptoms such as Raynaud’s phenomenon were found to completely disappear in a number of published studies.12
Other Treatments for ADHD, Eating Disorders
Can other treatments help with symptoms of ADHD besides taking amphetamines? Thankfully, yes there are many such drug-free approaches.
Many published studies found physical exercise and psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral counseling and mindfulness-based practices had enormous success in treating adults diagnosed with ADHD. That is why these treatments are so essential to blend into a Vyvanse withdrawal program.13,14
Orthomolecular principles applied to correct nutrition and supplementation have also been shown effective, according to Nutrients Journal published studies. Of note, improving gut (microbiome) health, supplementing with omega-3 oils, and correcting vitamin and mineral deficiencies have all proven highly beneficial in reducing ADHD symptoms in adults. Avoiding sugars and processed foods from the diet has also proven effective.15
Binge eating disorders are complex in nature, and often have many contributing factors that may be rooted in culture, psychological traumas and stress, allergies, microbiome disorders, and many others specific to an individual. Since Vyvanse kills the appetite, this may be a reason why the drug was FDA-approved for treatment. There are many other options for non-pharmacological treatment for BED. Once safe Vyvanse withdrawal has been achieved, there is much room for other approaches to address root causes, instead of using drugs as a shortcut type of treatment.
Vyvanse Withdrawal Inpatient at Alternative to Meds Center
It may be easier than you think to enroll in a far-reaching, holistic Vyvanse withdrawal program at Alternative to Meds. We are fully licensed and most major insurance coverage is available for inpatient services. Please take time to review the information available on the site to learn more about our holistic, medically monitored treatment programs. Vyvanse withdrawal done well could pave the way for you to create a new and more vibrant era in your life. Call us for more information on the benefits that await you at Alternative to Meds Center.
16. Iqbal A, Rehman A. Binge Eating Disorder. [Updated 2022 Oct 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551700/ [cited 2023 May 12]
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.
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