Is There a Risk? – Lyrica (pregabalin) is a prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of nerve pain or convulsions. While the drug is commonly prescribed for those with seizure disorders, fibromyalgia, and other conditions, it has also shown some effectiveness at mitigating anxiety.
Lyrica is scheduled by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule V substance, meaning that it has a legitimate medical purpose as well as a relatively low potential for abuse or addiction. Lyrica can be habit-forming, and use can result in physical dependence to some degree.
Pregabalin use doesn’t induce the same kind of high or result in addiction rates anywhere as near as high as some other prescription drugs. When compared to the high that results from highly-addictive prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, which may be marked by a feeling of euphoria, the high induced by Lyrica is mild. Experts believe that the addictive potential for Lyrica is primarily due to a reduction in pain accompanied by the relaxed feeling and generally mild high.
How Lyrica Works
Lyrica works to relieve nerve pain by blocking the transmission of excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain and boosting levels of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). This combined effect makes the user feel relaxed and mildly sedated.
GABA is one of the brain’s key neurotransmitters that help to control anxiety and stress response. High levels of GABA helps to inhibit and control many major functions of the central nervous system (CNS), such as heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure.
Lyrica abuse can occur in a few different ways. Firstly, patients with a legitimate prescription can use it more frequently or in higher doses than directed. Secondly, it can be used in combination with the misuse or abuse of other prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol. Thirdly, tablets can be crushed, and the remaining powder snorted, which can deliver the drug into the system more rapidly and with more intensity than is intended for legitimate medical use.
Unless directed by a doctor, Lyrica should not be combined with alcohol or any substance that slows down activity the central nervous system because it causes excessive drowsiness and CNS depression. CNS depressants include antidepressants, sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics, painkillers, and muscle relaxers.
When combined with anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax or Ativan, Lyrica can compound the drowsiness they cause. Using Lyrica while consuming alcohol can also amplify intoxicating effects.
Lyrica Side Effects
Possible side effects of Lyrica use include the following:
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Edema (swelling)
- Suicidal ideations
- Vision problems
- Impaired balance
- Impaired speech
- Dry mouth
- Muscle twitches
More serious side effects may include the following:
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Throat sores
- Mouth ulcers
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty breathing
Lyrica dependence is most common among those who have been using it for an extended period. Dependence is a condition that develops as the brain and body grow increasingly accustomed to a substance’s presence and requires continued use in order to function correctly.
One tell-tale sign of dependence is the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms when a user tries to quit. Withdrawal symptoms associated with Lyrica use are reportedly similar to those of other depressants, but perhaps milder than many. These may include the following:
- Mood changes
The severity of withdrawal is affected by factors such as the duration of use and the amount typically used. Also, discontinuing the use of other drugs or alcohol at the same time as Lyrica can significantly impact the overall intensity of withdrawal for all substances involved.
Treatment for Lyrica Abuse
Lyrica abuse and addiction are relatively uncommon, but these conditions are possible and do occur. Furthermore, the abuse of Lyrica often happens in conjunction with the misuse of other drugs, such as opioids or alcohol. Polysubstance addiction is a very dangerous condition and should be treated by professionals in a clinical setting.
Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers specialized treatment for substance use in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. Our programs include clinically-proven therapies vital to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please contact us today! We are dedicated to helping people free themselves from the grip of addiction, prevent relapse, and foster long-term wellness and sobriety!