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Vyvanse & Marijuana: Understanding Potential Interactions

Mixing medications with illicit substances is always risky, and the combination of Vyvanse and marijuana is no exception. 

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Vyvanse is designed to speed up the central nervous system, an effect that can help with the management of ADHD and binge eating disorder.[1] Marijuana can have both a stimulant and depressant effect on the central nervous system.[2]

This battling of effects can result in a number of physical and mental problems, including increased anxiety and paranoia, heart problems, reduced efficacy of the prescribed medication, and addiction

How Common Is Mixing Vyvanse With Marijuana?

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States, and Vyvanse is a commonly prescribed drug for the treatment of ADHD and binge eating disorder.[3] 

Because it is a prodrug, which means that it converts from lisdexamfetamine to dextroamphetamine in the gut after ingestion, Vyvanse is one of the lesser abused prescription stimulant medications.[4] However, Vyvanse can still be misused by those who do not have a prescription for the medication. 

People who abuse prescription stimulants like Vyvanse have higher rates of abuse of other substances, including marijuana.[5] Though there are no concrete numbers on how many people specifically abuse Vyvanse and marijuana together, or take both drugs at the same time regardless of prescription status, rates of prescriptions for ADHD meds like Vyvanse are on the rise and so too is the use of marijuana.[6]

Impacts to the Brain & Body When Mixing Vyvanse and Marijuana

Mixing Vyvanse and marijuana can have a significant impact on how the brain and body functions. The combination often causes new issues on top of the underlying issues that were being treated with Vyvanse or worsens the symptoms being treated with Vyvanse.

These are some of the problems that can occur:

Impact on the Brain 

Both Vyvanse and marijuana impact neurotransmitters like dopamine, but they do so differently. For example, Vyvanse increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, but marijuana may at first stimulate dopamine production and synthesis but later mute the dopamine response entirely.[1,7] This can mean unpredictable changes in mood that are debilitating to someone struggling to manage symptoms like impulse control, which is common for those living with ADHD or BED. 

Additionally, Vyvanse and all ADHD medications are designed to improve the ability to concentrate and manage impulsivity, but marijuana does the opposite, impairing short-term memory and judgment.[8] Ultimately, this can mean the Vyvanse doesn’t work as well as it could.

Impact on the Body

Both Vyvanse and marijuana can place stress on the cardiovascular system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure.[9,10] For those who already have underlying heart issues or a genetic predisposition to cardiovascular disorders, this can be especially problematic.

Appetite and weight can be negatively impacted by combining Vyvanse and marijuana as well, especially for those who take Vyvanse to manage BED. Vyvanse speeds up metabolism and decreases appetite, while marijuana does the opposite. This means that those who are hoping to see weight loss while treating BED will be hindered in this process.[11,12]

What Are the Dangers of Mixing Vyvanse & Marijuana?

Everyone is different. The specific issues experienced by one person mixing Vyvanse with marijuana versus another person will vary based on individual factors like dosage, genetic predisposition for certain mental or physical illnesses, and underlying conditions. 

Here are some of the potential effects and dangers:

Reduced Medication Efficacy 

No matter what the purpose for taking Vyvanse, the ability of the medication to do its job will be diminished with use of marijuana. For those attempting to treat BED, the issue may be an inability to lose weight or manage impulsive eating. For those who are trying to treat ADHD, the problem may be a lack of focus and motivation to complete tasks when using marijuana.

Increased Side Effects 

Shifts in mood, increases in anxiety or depression, and even paranoia can occur when combining the drugs. Vyvanse is a stimulant and can cause jitteriness, and marijuana use may result in heightened anxiety and paranoia.[13] The two substances together may amplify those issues.

Cognitive Issues

Though many people take Vyvanse to help them better concentrate at school and work, this effort may be impaired when taking marijuana at the same time. Marijuana is known for diminishing short-term memory and decreasing motivation and focus. 

Increased Risk-Taking Behaviors 

Vyvanse is designed to decrease impulsivity in users, but marijuana may have the opposite effect, lowering inhibitions and making it harder to make clear and prudent choices.

Difficulty Sleeping

As a stimulant, Vyvanse can make it harder to sleep. Depending on how marijuana impacts heart rate and dopamine levels, it can further exacerbate the problem. 

Higher Risk of Addiction 

Taking multiple medications that alter the function of the central nervous system and change how one feels may increase the risk of developing an addiction to one or both drugs. If Vyvanse is being used recreationally, the abuse of marijuana may be more likely to become problematic. When this is compounded by psychological cravings for either substance or a feeling that it will be impossible to function without the drug, addiction is present.[14]

Updated March 21, 2024
  1. Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse), a prodrug stimulant for attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder. Goodman DW. P & T: A peer reviewed journal for formulary management. 2010;35(5):273-287.
  2. Marijuana’s effects on human cognitive functions, psychomotor functions, and personality. Murray JB. The Journal of General Psychology. 1986;113(1):23-55.
  3. Prescription drug use and misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published 2015. Accessed February 21, 2024.
  4. A Review of Pharmacological Management of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Briars L, Todd T. The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2019;21(3):192-206.
  5. An exploratory study of the combined effects of orally administered methylphenidate and delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on cardiovascular function, subjective effects, and performance in healthy adults. Kollins SH, Schoenfelder EN, English JS, et al. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2015;48(1):96-103.
  6. Use of A.D.H.D. drugs surged during pandemic, study finds. Richtel M. The New York Times. Published January 10, 2024. Accessed February 21, 2024.
  7. The effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on the dopamine system. Bloomfield MAP, Ashok AH, Volkow ND, Howes OD. Nature. 2016;539(7629):369-377.
  8. Letter from the director. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published July 2020. Accessed February 21, 2024.
  9. Adult ADHD Medications and their cardiovascular implications. Sinha A, Lewis O, Kumar R, Yeruva SLH, Curry BH. Case Reports in Cardiology. 2016:1-6.
  10. What are marijuana’s effects on other aspects of physical health? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published July 2020. Accessed February 21, 2024.
  11. The effects of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate on eating behaviour and homeostatic, reward and cognitive processes in women with binge eating symptoms: an experimental medicine study. Schneider E, Martin E, Rotshtein P, et al. Translational Psychiatry. 2022;12(1).
  12. Cannabinoids and appetite: Food craving and food pleasure. Kirkham TC. International Review of Psychiatry. 2009;21(2):163-171.
  13. How cannabis causes paranoia: Using the intravenous administration of ∆ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to identify key cognitive mechanisms leading to paranoia. Freeman D, Dunn G, Murray RM, et al. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 2014;41(2):391-399.
  14. Considering the definition of addiction. Sussman S, Sussman AN. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2011;8(10):4025-4038.
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