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Lyrica Withdrawal, Overdose, Symptoms and Side Effects of Abuse and Addiction, Mixing Lyrica with Opioids, Treatment

What is Lyrica?

Lyrica, also known by its generic name Pregabalin. Pregabalin is in a class of medications called anticonvulsants. It works by decreasing the number of pain signals sent by damaged nerves in the body. Pregabalin capsules and oral solution are used along with other medications to treat certain seizures [1].

Lyrica (Pregabalin) capsules, oral solution (liquid), and extended-release (long-acting) tablets are used to relieve neuropathic pain (pain from damaged nerves) that can occur in your arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, or toes if you have diabetes and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN; the burning, stabbing pain or aches that may last for months or years after an attack of shingles) [2].

What is Lyrica Used For?

Lyrica (Pregabalin) capsules and oral solution are also used to relieve neuropathic pain after a spinal cord injury and to treat fibromyalgia (a long-lasting condition that may cause pain, muscle stiffness and tenderness, tiredness, and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep).

Lyrica binds to the alpha2-delta site in the central nervous system, calming overactive nerves. Impulses in the brain are slowed down, and the drug stops seizures right as they are beginning. Lyrica is a good add-on to other seizure medications, and those who took Lyrica with another prescribed seizure medication experienced a great reduction in their seizures. While Lyrica can benefit those who need it, others are at risk of developing a Lyrica addiction.

Is Lyrica Addictive?

Lyrica is commonly known as the “new Valium” for its ability to promote a peaceful and relaxed state, same as other sedatives or alcohol, Pregabalin (Lyrica) has also been abused for the mild high it can induce. This prescription drugs has the potential for addiction, as it alters brain chemistry and interacts with reward and motivational pathways. Long-term and regular use can develop physiological dependence, a critical component of addiction. Addiction is characterized by the inability to control substance use, compulsive drug-seeking behavior, and the onset of withdrawal symptoms upon cessation.

Lyrica is a prescription anticonvulsant indicated for the treatment of nerve pain. It is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) [3] as a Schedule V controlled substance due to its relatively low potential for addiction. Despite this, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) [4], clinical trials showed that pregabalin could produce euphoria. Meta-analysis of 38 trials noted euphoria as the second most commonly reported pregabalin adverse effect. Moreover, abuse of large doses of this drug (up to 20 times higher than the maximal dosage indicated) has been reported. This mostly seems to happen orally, but intravenous and nasal insufflation have also been reported. 

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How Lyrica Addiction Develops?

The symptoms of Lyrica withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable, and sometimes even dangerous in certain cases.
The symptoms of Lyrica withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable, and sometimes even dangerous in certain cases.

Lyrica relieves nerve pain by blocking the transmission of excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. This combined effect makes the user feel mellow and relaxed, responsible for Lyrica’s abuse potential.

GABA is one of the brain’s main neurotransmitters that help to control stress response and anxiety. Elevated GABA levels help to suppress some functions of the central nervous system (CNS), reducing activity such as respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure, all of which are increased by stress.

The World Health Organization (WHO) [5] reported that a high dose of pregabalin might influence effects similar to those associated with diazepam (Valium), which is another common prescription drug of abuse. The high may be mild when taken alone, but Lyrica is frequently abused with other drugs, including alcohol and opioid. Lyrica can be abused by repeatedly taking the drug, in higher doses than required, without a prescription, or for non-medical reasons. In addition to swallowing a tablet, Lyrica can be crushed and ingested by snorting it.

Lyrica Abuse

Lyrica has a high potential for abuse, and evidence suggests that some patients develop addictive behaviors toward the drug [6]. A recent study reports that most individuals taking Lyrica were unaware of the adverse health consequences linked with its abuse.

There has been an immediate increase in the recreational abuse of Lyrica in recent years. Users find that they can experience feelings of dissociation and euphoria when they surpass standard therapeutic dosages or use alternative ways of administration, such as injection or inhalation.

There has been a repots on the rising number of patients arriving at emergency rooms with damaging symptoms arising from Lyrica abuse. Several patients presented with seizures, while some required intubation and ventilation before being admitted to the intensive care unit. There is also evidence that taking Lyrica and other drugs increases mortality risk. Lyrica significantly increased the risk of acute overdose death when combined with opiates such as heroin.

Pregabalin for Withdrawal

Drug and alcohol-related physical dependence is a major clinical issue, and its treatment concerns world health. Pregabalin does have some potential. However, there is little proof that it can effectively treat physical dependence withdrawal symptoms. Pregabalin’s effectiveness and safety in various patient populations must be further demonstrated by large-scale, meticulous, adequately controlled clinical investigations. In addition, clinicians should be cautious when providing pregabalin to patients with a history of prior substance abuse and address the potential risk of pregabalin misuse or abuse.

Pregabalin for Opioid Withdrawal

According to certain preclinical research, Pregabalin may treat opioid physical dependence and withdrawal. In a study by Hasanein and Shakeri, adult Wistar rats were given escalating doses of subcutaneous morphine (2.5-50 mg/kg over a 7-day period) to make them opioid dependent. The impact of pregabalin (50, 100, or 200 mg/kg subcutaneously) on withdrawal signs and symptoms was evaluated using naloxone precipitation withdrawal tests. Most naloxone-induced morphine withdrawal symptoms, such as weight loss, teeth chattering, penis licking, jumping, wet dog shivers, standing, sniffing, face grooming, and paw tremor, were significantly reduced by pregabalin in a dose-dependent manner.

Pregabalin for Alcohol Withdrawal

Pregabalin has been investigated in a preclinical trial for physical alcohol dependence. Pregabalin (50-200 mg/kg) dose-dependently lessened the intensity of behavioral convulsions that occurred in mice exposed to ethanol repeatedly compared to animals given a vehicle. Given that seizures may be a significant side effect of alcohol withdrawal, pregabalin, an anticonvulsant that can lessen withdrawal symptoms, may be especially helpful in this situation.

Pregabalin for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Pregabalin has been investigated as a pharmacologic adjunct for the cessation of chronic benzodiazepine use. Pregabalin has fewer possible medication interactions than carbamazepine, and most of its side effects are mild and short-lived. Pregabalin binds to regulatory subunits of voltage-activated calcium channels to inhibit the release of excitatory neurotransmitters. Most studies examined could not detect a difference between pregabalin and comparator groups in the rate of benzodiazepine cessation. Since patients were only monitored for 0–12 weeks after stopping the benzodiazepines, it is also unknown how long pregabalin will remain effective in helping people stop taking them.

According to most investigations, pregabalin administration in benzodiazepine discontinuation did, however, consistently enhance withdrawal symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and cognitive performance. However, studies’ designs varied according to past attempts to stop using benzodiazepines, baseline benzodiazepine use characteristics (agent, dose, duration), prior attempts to stop using benzodiazepines, and the use of concurrent psychotropic medications and comorbid psychiatric diagnoses as exclusion criteria. Furthermore, the literature does not explicitly state if patients successfully stopped taking pregabalin, a drug for which there have been reports of drug misuse.

Most studies did not find a significant difference in benzodiazepine discontinuation rates between pregabalin and comparator groups despite an improvement in withdrawal and anxiety symptoms, so based on the evidence currently available, pregabalin is not advised for use in benzodiazepine discontinuation.

Pregabalin for Opiate Withdrawal

Although opiate withdrawal is challenging, numerous medications have been created to lessen the symptoms. Pregabalin was one of several medications examined in a clinical trial that began in 2014 for this condition (Lyrica).

Although Lyrica is typically used to treat seizures and nerve pain problems, including fibromyalgia and neuropathy, it has also been used off-label to alleviate opiate withdrawal symptoms. Some people discovered that Lyrica helped significantly lessen the severe opiate withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, nausea, and hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain).

Withdrawal from opiates can also result in seizures. Thus Lyrica seems like the perfect medication to avoid them.

There are many different opiates available, each with certain unique qualities that could either boost or decrease Lyrica’s effectiveness. These consist of the following:

  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl

There isn’t enough data to definitively state which opiates will interact with Lyrica better or worse. Therefore, it is essential to assess each case individually to determine the best treatment for withdrawal symptoms. It is crucial to see a medical expert handling the withdrawal and detox phase if you have established an opiate dependency because doing so might be dangerous to your health. It would help if you didn’t try to cure your opiate withdrawal using Lyrica. There must be medical monitoring.

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Mixing Lyrica with Other Drugs

Some people say the feeling of a Lyrica high as feeling drunk; that is why it got the nickname “Budweiser.” Some people may combine alcohol and Lyrica, which increases the side effects of drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and dizziness. Individuals who abuse this drug will swallow a larger amount than their prescription allows or without a prescription at all. Users may also crush the tablet and snort the contents. The euphoric effects are increased when mixed with other drugs, like Opiates, but so are the feelings of dizziness and sleepiness. Intentionally combining Lyrica with other drugs, such as Heroin, can lead to an overdose.

There has been a growing concern in the reports on the misuse and abuse of pregabalin and gabapentin. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [6], gabapentinoids ( such as pregabalin and gabapentin) are widely used in neurology, psychiatry and primary healthcare. Still, they are increasingly reported as possessing potential misuse and abuse. Increasing levels of both prescriptions and related fatalities, together with a growing black market, that has been reported from a range of countries.

According to NCBI. medical professionals considering prescribing gabapentinoids such as Lyrica and Gabapentin, for neurological/psychiatric disorders should carefully evaluate a possible previous history of drug abuse, whilst promptly identifying signs of pregabalin/gabapentin misuse and providing possible assistance in tapering off the medication.

Lyrica may have drug interactions with diabetes drugs and lead to weight gain and swelling. When combined with an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, the person using the drug may experience hives and swelling. In the U.S., Lyrica is considered a relatively safe drug with a low potential for abuse. However, most European and Middle Eastern countries realize the dangers of Lyrica abuse and addiction.

Lyrica Withdrawal
The symptoms of Lyrica withdrawal can be similar to GABA agents such as gabapentin or benzodiazepines

Combining Lyrica and Opioids

There is an even greater risk for people taking multiple drugs simultaneously. Lyrica is statistically more deadly when combined with opioids. Morphine, Heroin, and fentanyl are very popular on the black market. The popularity of fentanyl, in particular, contributes greatly to the opioid epidemic in the western world. Normally cut with other medications like Xanax, an amount of fentanyl equivalent to a few grains of salt has the potential to be fatal.

When a person takes Lyrica with fentanyl, heroin, or other opioids, the risk for lethal overdose increases immensely. Unfortunately, users are tempted to do so because Lyrica has a reputation for boosting the euphoria some experience with opioids. Though the threat is increased and the combination often life-threatening, people continue to use the substances simultaneously due to addiction, lack of knowledge in the risks, or the pursuit of a stronger high.

Side Effects of Lyrica Abuse

Short-term side effects of Lyrica abuse may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems

  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Dangerous blood pressure changes

Long-term side effects of Lyrica abuse may include:

  • Tolerance
  • Pancreatitis
  • Dependence
  • Addiction

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What Is Lyrica Withdrawal?

Drastically stopping Lyrica or suddenly decreasing the dose can lead to uncomfortable Lyrica withdrawal symptoms. These Lyrica withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening and require medical care in some cases. Therefore, it’s best to detox from Lyrica under the supervision of a doctor or another healthcare professional.

Even an individual who does not misuse Lyrica can develop a chemical dependence on the prescription medication. This is different from full-blown addiction, a condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and abuse. Still, even without addiction, Lyrica withdrawal symptoms can happen. Because this drug has depressant qualities, Lyrica withdrawal symptoms are like those experienced with benzodiazepines or alcohol.

Symptoms of Lyrica Withdrawal

In most cases, a person may become dependent on Lyrica and experience Lyrica withdrawal symptoms after using the drug for an extended period. Therefore, those abusing the drug should slowly taper off Lyrica to prevent the more severe side effects of withdrawal, which can be pretty uncomfortable. Sometimes these symptoms may be life-threatening and require medical care.

The severity of Lyrica withdrawal symptoms can change based on the length of time the drug was used, the dose, and whether the individual was abusing other drugs.

Individuals who have used very high doses of the drug or have been on the medication for an extended time may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. Conversely, those who have taken a lower dose, or for a short period may experience mild Lyrica withdrawal symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Signs and symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Cravings for Lyrica
  • Behavioral changes
  • Mood changes
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Diarrhea

Lyrica Withdrawal Anxiety

Patients experiencing withdrawal from Lyrica suffered from chronic sleeplessness among other symptoms. The most significant issues were palpitations, restlessness, and anxiety. However, there were no signs of psychosis, such as hallucinogenic beliefs or mood swings.

Lyrica Withdrawal Depression

Harmful psychological withdrawal symptoms include sadness and suicidal thoughts or actions. Depression raises the risk of recurrence and overdose.

Lyrica Withdrawal Nausea

Dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance can result from nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating.

Lyrica Withdrawal Seizures

Since Lyrica can be used to treat seizures, discontinuing the prescription can suddenly cause episodes to return, potentially fatal.

Complications of Lyrica Withdrawal

Lyrica withdrawal symptoms can cause complications—some of which can be deadly.

  • Heart problems – Fast heartbeat or palpitations can lead to cardiac issues that can become fatal.
  • Dehydration – Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and increased sweating may lead to electrolyte imbalance or dehydration.
  • Seizures – Since Lyrica can be used to control seizures, suddenly stopping the medication can lead to a recurrence of seizures, which can be life-threatening.
  • Overdose – Like other drugs, rapidly stopping the use of Lyrica can lead to intense cravings and relapse, which can increase the chance of overdose.
  • Suicidal thoughts – In addition, suicidal thoughts or behavior and depression are common psychological Lyrica withdrawal symptoms that can be risky. Moreover, feelings of depression and anxiety increase the chances of relapse and overdose.

Lyrica Withdrawal Timeline 

Most acute, short-term Lyrica withdrawal symptoms linked with a dependence on this drug will last for about 1 -2 days if the drug is abruptly stopped. 

In some cases, especially those involving other symptoms, these symptoms may persist for several days beyond. Residual symptoms, which are emotional, may persist for several weeks. 

It is usually beneficial for individuals to be put on a tapering plan in which they slowly reduce their dose. This can help lessen the severity of Lyrica withdrawal symptoms and mitigate and control cravings. The symptoms mentioned above may be pronounced or extended in those taking Lyrica in large amounts or over a prolonged period.

How to Stop Pregabalin Withdrawal

A detox program might be helpful if you need assistance with a Lyrica addiction. To minimize some of the more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms during detox, drug addicts can look for a professional detox clinic that offers a medically assisted withdrawal regimen. After detox, it’s crucial to participate in a structured addiction treatment program like behavioral therapy. Benzodiazepines and clonidine are two drugs that may be provided by an addiction treatment professional to ease the withdrawal symptoms related to Lyrica addiction.

Lyrica Overdose 

Many users compare Lyrica’s effects to Valium (Diazepam), which produces a calming and euphoric effect. In many cases of Lyrica misuse, it has not been prescribed – it has been sourced through family or friends or bought on the street or via the internet. Individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders and undiagnosed mental health problems take Lyrica to self-medicate, saying it relieves them. Abusing this drug leads to dangerous addictions.

A Lyrica overdose receives the same treatment as most pill overdoses. However, if opioids, such as fentanyl and heroin, are in the user’s system, the emergency first responders treat the situation with even more urgency. User’s who have overdosed on Lyrica (or gabapentin) likely have their stomach pumped, get treated with medicine to stabilize the blood pressure and the heart, and have fluids replaced.

  • There are Lyrica and opioid risks beyond overdose and the risk of death. These include:
  • Vomiting as a side-effect of Lyrica or opioids while aspirating and unconscious 
  • Being unconscious long enough to cause permanent brain damage

Lyrica users were also using another substance more than two-thirds of the time. These secondary substances include alcohol, opioids, and sedatives. Almost all users who abuse Lyrica with other substances require in-depth medical care, and some may not survive.

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Lyrica Withdrawal, Dependency, and Addiction Treatment

Partaking in medically-assisted detox treatment can provide a safe and comfortable Lyrica withdrawal period to start recovery. However, professional detox should be followed by enrolling in a formal addiction treatment program to increase the chance of long-term sobriety.

Enrolling in a formal Lyrica withdrawal treatment program can help maintain and strengthen recovery, help develop a sober support network, create a sense of accountability, and help a person learn and practice relapse prevention techniques that help maintain long-term sobriety. 

The professional treatment provides peer support, experienced therapeutic techniques, and medical and psychiatric support services.

Lyrica withdrawal and dependency is a different experiences for each individual, and various types of treatment are available. Treatment includes the following:

Medical Detox for Lyrica withdrawal and Addiction

  • Medical detox provides a safe, medically supervised environment to detox safely from Lyrica. In addition, medical and counseling professionals are on hand to support detox duration and monitor people for risks or complications.

Inpatient treatment for Lyrica withdrawal and addiction

  • Inpatient treatment happens in a residential facility where recovering Lyrica users stay for varying lengths, from 28 days to 3 months. The facility provides a safe, structured, sober environment where individuals receive intensive group and individual therapy sessions and medical and psychiatric monitoring if necessary.

Find The Right Lyrica Withdrawal and Addiction Treatment at We Level Up NJ

A detox program can be highly beneficial if you seek help for Lyrica withdrawal and addiction treatment. Look for a professional detox facility that provides a medically assisted withdrawal protocol that will help drug abusers to avoid some of the harsher symptoms of Lyrica withdrawal during detox. 

Lyrica withdrawal
The decision to start a journey to recovery can save your life

There are also several medication-assisted treatment (MAT) available that an addiction treatment specialist may prescribe for easing the withdrawal symptoms linked with Lyrica withdrawal and addiction. After completion of detox, it is crucial to participate in a formal addiction treatment program such as behavioral therapy in an inpatient rehab setting. 

Please, do not try to detox on your own at home. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We at Level Up NJ provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions. 

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Sources

[1] NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605045.html

[2] FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/021446s035,022488s013lbl.pdf

[3] DEA – https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2005/fr0728.htm

[4] [5] WHO – https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/Pregabalin_FINAL.pdf

[6] NCBI – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24760436/

[7] We Level UpOpioid Addiction Treatment

[8]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Pregabalin.

[9]. Barrett, J.A., Kittler, L.M., & Singarajah, C. (2015). Acute pregabalin withdrawal: A case report and review of the literature. Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care, 10(5), 306-310.

[11]. PDR.net. (2016). Lyrica (pregabalin) – drug summary.

[12]. Toth, C. (2014). Pregabalin: Latest safety evidence and clinical implications for the management of neuropathic pain. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, 5(1), 38-56.

[13]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (3rd edition).

[14]. Mayo Clinic. (2015). Clonidine (oral route).

[15]. (June 2018) Gabapentin, Pregabalin, and Placebo in Reducing Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms in Opioid-dependent Individuals: A Randomized-controlled Trial. Addictive Disorders and Their Treatments. Retrieved February 2019 from https://journals.lww.com/addictiondisorders/Abstract/2018/06000/Gabapentin,_Pregabalin,_and_Placebo_in_Reducing.1.aspx  

[16]. (November 2017) Opioid Addiction. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved February 2019 from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/opioid-addiction#statistics  

[17]. (January 2014) Pregabalin for Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved February 2019 from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03017430  

[18]. (2009) Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. World Health Organization. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310654/