I’ve had a lot of people ask me to talk about Vyvanse, which is being touted as the new miracle drug for binge eating. The New York Times ran an article about it last month and lots of folks have been calling me and asking me if I recommend it.
Before I discuss my thoughts and feelings about the drug itself, lets discuss what it is. Vyvanse is an ADHD drug and it’s an amphetamine. It’s been used for years for folks with ADHD. So, these ADHD drugs are cognitive enhancers, meaning they increase focus and decrease impulsive behaviors. If you’ve ever seen a kid before and after his (or her) ADHD meds, you know how different they show up with an amphetamine in their system. It works the same with BED, it increases focus and decreases impulsive behaviors, so one is less driven by their desires and urges, and for many folks it will decrease bingeing and help them find some peace around food.
That being said, I do have some feelings about it. The very first is that amphetamines have been prescribed and abused for weight loss for decades. Most people with BED don’t purely have Binge Eating Disorder, they also deal with severe food restriction, exercise addiction and obsessive dieting, so being on this drug might feed their desire to restrict. Without the drive to eat, they might find themselves depriving themselves of food or not eating at all.
And although I’m saying this theoretically – the truth is, that I know of a lot of women who abused drugs like Ritalin and Adderal to keep themselves from eating- and when I was in college, I was definitely one of them.
If someone is taking this to stop binge eating, they will also need to learn how to use mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to stop binge eating because when they stop taking the medication, their impulses will return because they are not getting the dopamine effect that they were getting from the drug.
Next, it’s not a benign drug, it’s an amphetamine which does have addictive consequences, so people with BED might be switching out one addiction for another. There are also side effects to consider like sleeping issues, anxiety, constipation, and others, but those are the main side effects that have a massive contraindication for people with BED.
So do I recommend it? I don’t know. I have heard from a few women that it’s been heaven for them- that they feel finally free of their urges to binge. As with all medicine, you have to weigh the risks with the benefits. I definitely wouldn’t say that I’m against it, but I think it would better for very short term use, to get over the hump of BED and teach you that you actually can be free those urges and impulses, but at the same time, learn through therapy how to stop those behaviors.
If you have tried Vyvanse for binge eating- please do share your experiences and what it’s been like for you in the comments. Thanks!