In the past, Pregabalin, also known as Lyrica, Alzain, Lecaent and Rewisca, has been typically used as a prescription-only medication to treat epilepsy and nerve pain. It is also prescribed for anxiety in adults and can be effective with a few weeks of starting the ‘anticonvulsant’ medication.
However, in more recent years, it’s been prescribed to help manage and calm anxiety or pain due to research and study.
One of the reasons you are hearing more about Pregablin is it was within patent and hence very expensive. Now that the patent has expired there are now more generic versions available making the drug affordable for the NHS.
Available in tablet and liquid form the dosage is split into morning and evening dosages between 150mg and 600mg a day.
As a leading drug addiction treatment centre Castle Craig is at the forefront of prescription drug addiction. We have seen a rise in pregabalin addiction cases coming into our rehab.
To gain instant help with an addiction to pregabalin please telephone our addiction team on 01721 728118.
Pregabalin Abuse: The Facts
- Pregabalin and anxiety? It is used to treat and calm symptoms of anxiety, epilepsy and nerve pain. Efficacious in lowering the overbearing psychological or physical symptoms of anxiety, it is used to reduce depressive feelings and sleep disturbance.
- Is it addictive? As with any other drug, whether street or prescribed, there are addiction risks. Over time your body will develop a tolerance to its effects, where many users might feel the need to self medicate, ie up their dosage or to take this prescription drug without reason.
- From April 2019 pregabalin has been reclassified as a class C controlled substances in the UK
- Manufacturer Caution: Conditions that may precipitate encephalopathy; elderly; history of substance abuse; respiratory depression; severe congestive heart failure. See PREGABALIN | Drug | BNF content published by NICE.
- When used in combination with other depressants, they can cause sedation and feelings of relaxation
- Pregabalin has a possible higher abuse potential due to its rapid absorption, faster acting and higher potency
- Pregabalin causes a ‘high’ or elevated mood in users, vision changes and less commonly, hallucinations.
- Snorting Pregabalin gives a ‘high similar to other recreational stimulants
- What are the signs? When identifying signs of Pregabalin abuse you must look at both the physical and behavioural symptoms, such as heart palpitations, loss of coordination, lying and changes to social life.
- How is Pregabalin addiction treated? Effective treatments for Pregabalin addiction include 12-step programs, dedicated private treatments in residential rehabs and programmes as well as therapy
How dangerous is Pregabalin addiction?
In 2018 the number of drug-related deaths involving Pregabalin or Gabapentin was 272. More.
Treatment for Pregabalin addiction will vary depending on the severity of your dependency and how long you have been taking it.
If you’re the loved one of someone currently suffering from Pregabalin addiction, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the treatment options available, so you can make knowledgeable suggestions if they finally decide to get help. Or, if you are struggling, scroll below to discover how you can find support.
Drug addictions are serious. If you have a reliance on drugs then inpatient rehab is often the best option as you may require a supervised medical detox with doctors and staff on hand to care for you round the clock.
Self-funded or private rehabs also provide a great escape for those suffering as it removes them from society completely, and with no access to Pregabalin, bad influences and old temptations you are less likely to relapse.
Addiction is a complex subject and often stems from trauma or other underlying mental health issues.
To be successful in living a drug-free life, it’s important to explore the root of the problem and understand your addiction to conquer it.
Talking to a qualified addiction counsellor at Castle Craig may help you realise and overcome several repressed issues.
Specialist addiction therapy is available to those who attend Castle Craig. Our team of addiction experts understand the co-occurring issues surrounding your addiction better than most and our therapists have devised effective programmes and plans to help you find your way back to the real you.
Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, work well when it comes to maintaining sobriety. Here you have a group of people who, like yourself, have experienced addiction and now dedicate themselves to living a clean life while helping others through their recovery.
Questions about treatment
Get confidential help right now call 01721 728118.
- Non-judgemental advice
- Expert and experienced guidance (we know exactly what to do)
- The assistance of medical professionals and trained psychiatrists with specialist expertise in this area
- Funding help
Addiction Overview: Understanding Pregabalin
Pregabalin used incorrectly can be addictive, and although it exhibits lower potential for addiction and abuse than many other drugs, administering this drug incorrectly or combining it with other substances can result in dependence and eventually addiction.
Pregabalin works by interfering with pain messages travelling through the brain and down the spinal cord. If you’re someone who suffers from a chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, taking Pregabalin will relieve you of any painful symptoms with a few weeks.
Pregabalin has quickly become one of the UK’s most highly abused drugs
Studies show us that Pregabalin is often commonly mixed with other substances such as alcohol and opioids.
Although Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant and not an opioid, it has been reported that individuals who take it experience feelings of relaxation, calm and ‘feeling drunk’, similar to the effects of diazepam or alcohol.
The Dangers – Abuse and Effects
The risk of addiction to these drugs is not limited to those suffering from fibromyalgia or other illnesses. Pregabalin is often abused in conjunction with alcohol and opioid drugs because of the way that it reacts with the brain’s GABA receptors, therefore heightening their effects.
The common dosage for normal treatment is around 25mg, although, rather shockingly, there have been reports of people taking as much as 1,400 mg at any one time.
It’s these larger doses that work to create such intense feelings and emotions that can be addictive. When regular Pregabalin use is combined with more highly addictive drugs, the potential for problems increases.
There are various factors to consider when discussing the effects of Pregabalin, and you should remember that drugs will affect different people in different ways.
The way your body reacts to it will also depend on the dosage as well as the amount of time you’ve been taking it.
A significant amount of this drug will leave you feeling delirious and calm and can sometimes even cause hallucinations.
However, whether you’ve obtained it legally or not, there is always a risk of becoming dependant on, or addicted to, Pregabalin even if you’re taking it exactly as prescribed.
Signs & Symptoms of Pregabalin Abuse & Addiction
If you’ve been taking Pregabalin for some time, either on prescription or recreationally, and you’re beginning to worry about the impact it might be having on your mental and physical health, then it’s important to familiarise yourself with some of the signs and symptoms of Pregabalin addiction.
Remember: these symptoms manifest in many different ways, and while you may not be noticing any physical problems right away, your mental state and behaviour are often tell-tale signs that something is wrong.
The behavioural and psychological effects of Pregabalin addiction are similar to those of almost any other substance that is being misused.
One of the most common behavioural shifts is your ability to lie to cover up the extent of your Pregabalin abuse.
It almost becomes second nature to you where Pregabalin is concerned.
These symptoms are very often noticed by those closest to you before you’re even aware:
- Isolating yourself from loved ones
- No social life
- Impulsivity, Irritability, Agitation, Hostility
- Inability to stop taking Pregabalin despite the ramifications
- Hiding your habit from friends and family
- Obsessing over getting more Pregabalin
- Mood and behaviour changes
- Anxiety or Panic attacks
- Lying about or exaggerating medical symptoms to a doctor to get more
- Financial difficulty as a result of funding your habit
Some of the most common physical symptoms
- Fever, Heart palpitations
- Depression/anxiety, Impaired memory
- Difficulty speaking, Loss of coordination
If for any reason you’re taking Pregabalin that hasn’t been prescribed to you by your doctor, or you’re consuming a larger dose than recommended and you’re beginning to recognise any of the above symptoms in yourself, you may have developed a Pregabalin addiction.
Although slightly more uncommon, there are also serious side effects that come with Pregabalin addiction.
Common Mental symptoms
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
- Muscle pain, weakness or tenderness
- Fever, Vision problems
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Swelling in hands or feet
- Rapid weight gain
If you feel as though your mental and physical health is deteriorating, or you notice these unsettling symptoms in someone you care about, you must seek medical help immediately.
When to Get Help
When it comes to understanding addiction, you must take into account three main factors: the brain, genetics and environment.
Although each of these usually plays a role in the causes of addiction, it’s not entirely clear why one person will develop an addiction over someone else engaging in similar behaviours, but some of the most contributing factors include:
- A history of drug abuse in the family
- Any kind of exposure to drug or alcohol abuse as a child
- Easy access to Pregabalin
- Suffering from conditions for which Pregabalin may typically be prescribed
- Experiencing childhood trauma and abuse
- Stressful life situations, Social isolation and withdrawal
Many people forget that abusing any substance can often leave you with life-long health problems, both physically and mentally.
Depending on the severity of your addiction, many of the long-term effects of Pregabalin addiction remain even after you’ve detoxed.
Because Pregabalin is a medication that works within the brain, abusing it may not only cause damage to certain organs but leave you suffering from serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety as well as significantly raising the risk of overdose.
Admitting that you have a substance abuse problem really is the first step towards recovery.
However, this is a decision you have to make for yourself. As much as your loved ones will want to help you get clean, they can’t go through treatment on your behalf.
If you’ve reached the point where Pregabalin is impacting your life negatively or you find yourself experiencing any of the below symptoms, it’s time to seek help.
- Lack of control, Isolation
- Desire to quit but unable to
- Spending a lot of time trying to get Pregabalin
- Cravings, Lack of responsibility
- Problems with relationships
- Loss of interest in most things
- Reckless behaviour, Tolerance
Many people take Pregabalin recreationally and may be able to do so for short periods of time, or every so often.
For others, the pattern of using is very different.
One of the main differences between someone abusing Pregabalin and someone addicted to it is the inability to put the drug down, walk away and not think about it.
However, once the obsession to use has become a regular part of your thought process,
Addiction doesn’t improve if left untreated and it certainly doesn’t disappear. Once you’ve come to terms with this, you’re ready to begin your road to recovery.
Using it for withdrawal from other drugs
It’s not uncommon for opioid users to take Pregabalin to relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
While there have been reports that antiepileptic medications have some effect on minimising the symptoms of withdrawal, it is not prescribed for this purpose, and mixing the two can be extremely dangerous.
Patients have been known to take Pregabalin within a drug treatment program as a means of getting high while recovering. If you’ve considered taking Pregabalin to treat opioid addiction you should be aware that by doing so, you also run the risk of developing a dual addiction.
Pregabalin can be both physically and psychologically addictive
If you’ve been taking Pregabalin regularly for a long period of time, your brain and body will have become reliant upon certain levels of it being present in your system allowing the brain to perform its normal functions.
However, if you suddenly stop taking it your body will enter withdrawal during which a variety of potentially unpleasant and dangerous symptoms may manifest.
Pregabalin is used to treat pain caused by nerve damage, and if you’re someone who suffers from diabetic neuropathy or fibromyalgia, medications like Pregabalin provide you with relief from constant discomfort.
Therefore, it is understandable how people might develop a physical dependence on such medications, even when taking them as prescribed.
If you’re using Pregabalin recreationally it’s unlikely that your body will develop a real physical dependence on Pregabalin alone, and most physical dependence will be a result of any other substances you are mixing it with.
Is Pregabalin Psychoactive?
Pregabalin works by altering the messages in the brain, which affects how you think and feel. Based on this is would be accurate to say that Pregabalin is psychoactive.
The term ‘psychoactive’ refers to any drug that affects you mentally, emotionally and behaviourally, and not just those specifically developed to help treat psychiatric disorders.
Anticonvulsants such as Pregabalin are used to treat various psychological issues, such as anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, substance use disorders, and personality disorders.
However, Pregabalin does have a similar mechanism of action to some stimulants, and, as mentioned earlier in this article, it is reported to trigger feelings of sociability, euphoria, calm and relaxation if you take enough of it.
Using Pregabalin with other drugs, such as opioids and alcohol, will also enhance their psychoactive effects, but stimulating the CNS to this degree can result in drowsiness, sedation, respiratory depression, and even death.
UK Government Classification of Pregabalin
In April 2019, Pregabalin was officially reclassified as Class C controlled substance in the UK due to the growing number of people abusing it. This meant it would be illegal for anyone to be in possession of Pregabalin without a prescription.
With Pregabalin being prescribed to treat more and more illnesses, unsurprisingly, it’s become more accessible to people. Soon after the rise in prescriptions, it was discovered that Pregabalin could bring about feelings of euphoria in users. Unfortunately, this ‘high’ also comes with serious side effects, particularly when used in combination with other drugs.
The UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs advised the government to properly assess Pregabalin abuse’s impact on the healthcare sector. Their investigation found a growing illicit market where Pregabalin was also being bought on the dark web.
The law was soon changed, which meant that, although this medication would still be available for legitimate use on prescription, there would be much stronger controls in place to minimise the risk of Pregabalin being stockpiled by patients.
Doctors in the UK will now need to physically sign prescriptions, rather than electronic copies being accepted by pharmacists. In addition, pharmacists must dispense the drugs within 28 days of the prescription being written.
Pregabalin withdrawal is said to be most similar to withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines.
Stopping or significantly decreasing your dose could lead to you experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms. Book a free addiction assessment.
- Agitation, Mood swings
- Heart palpitations
- Anxiety, Headaches
- Sweating, Confusion
- Difficulty sleeping, Nausea
The severity of the symptoms will vary based on the length of time you’ve been using Pregabalin, the dose, and whether you’ve been abusing other drugs alongside it.
- Mixing substances will have the opposite effect, and most times you will have double the withdrawal symptoms to contend with.
However, if your dosage has been relatively low and only taken for a short while you may experience mild withdrawal symptoms or no symptoms at all.
If you are concerned about the usage of Pregabalin in your life, talk to us – we know how to help.
If you, a friend or family member and let you know more about Castle Craig’s residential rehab programme. Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 01721 728118.
Next: Pregabalin and Alcohol
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | August 16, 2021