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Lyrica Withdrawal

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 that are sent out by damaged nerves in the body. Pregabalin capsules and oral solution are used along with other medications to treat certain types of 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].

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

Lyrica works by binding 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 be beneficial to those who need it, others are at risk for 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. With long-term and regular use, physiological dependence can develop, a critical component of addiction. Addiction is characterized by the inability to control substance use and compulsive drug-seeking behavior, in addition to the onset of withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use.

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 can produce euphoria. Meta-analysis of 38 trials noted euphoria to be 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. 

How Lyrica Addiction Develops

Lyrica relieves nerve pain by blocking the transmission of excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing the levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). 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.

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 being reported as possessing a potential for 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 who take multiple drugs at once. 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

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

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 of the 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 basically emotional in nature, 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 also mitigate and control cravings. The symptoms mentioned above may be pronounced or extended in those who have been taking Lyrica in large amounts or over a prolonged period.

Lyrica Overdose 

Many users compare Lyrica’s effects to those of 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 that it gives them relief. Abusing this drug is leading 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.

Treatment for Lyrica Withdrawal, Dependency, and Addiction

Partaking in medically-assisted detox treatment can provide a safe and comfortable Lyrica withdrawal period to start the recovery process. 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 are helpful in maintaining long-term sobriety. 

Professional treatment also provides peer support, experienced therapeutic techniques, and medical and psychiatric support services.

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

Medical Detox for Lyrica withdrawal and addiction

  • It provides a safe, medically supervised environment to detox safely from Lyrica. In addition, medical and counseling professionals are on hand to provide support for the duration of detox 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 of time, from 28 days to 3 months. The facility provides a safe and 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

If you seek help for Lyrica withdrawal and addiction treatment, a detox program can be highly beneficial. 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 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. 

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