Dr. Richard Bruce Silverman, a chemistry professor at Northwestern University, discovered Pregabalin and the FDA approved it in 2004 for treatment of fibromyalgia pain, neuropathic pain, and generalized anxiety disorder. Nobody is certain how it works as an effective means to stop partial seizures. The original intention of Pregabalin was that it would be approved for epilepsy but was only found to be effective for partial seizures.
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Is There a Risk of Lyrica Abuse or Addiction?
Pregalin is a drug that was FDA approved for convulsions as well as pain caused by nerve damage from diabetes or an injury to the spinal cord. The brand name in the US is Lyrica and its popularity as a pain medication has grown quickly in a short amount of time.
While it hasn’t been on the market for long, as of 2013, it was ranked the 19th most prescribed drug, earning its manufacturer (Pfizer) $3 billion annually. As it’s so new on the market, it’s not known to what extend can Lyrica be abused. While the drug is prescribed for those with partial seizure disorders and fibromyalgia, it has been said to help treat anxiety. As increasingly more people are being prescribed Pregabalin, the question remains, is Lyrica abuse possible?
What Does Lyrica Treat?
Pregabalin, the active ingredient in Lyrica is prescribed to treat partial seizure disorders. It does so by working in your central nervous system to control seizures as well as pain. Within the nervous system, it stops convulsing and soothes specific nerve pain. It differs from other addictive pain killers in how it works and is prescribed to manage pain to those suffering from fibromyalgia which causes muscle pain and stiffness. Lyrica can ease the specific pain caused by nerve damage due to diabetic neuropathy, post damage pain from shingles, or spinal injury pain. Lyrica is in no way a cure for epilepsy and only works to control seizures when you’re continuously taking it.
Doctors will prescribe Lyrica for other types of chronic pain such as migraines, post surgery pain, and some anxiety disorders. For any of the reasons mentioned, this is “off label” and it’s likely part of the reason Lyrica has seen such huge success on the market place. The issue may lie in that when given to the general public, Lyrica abuse can become more prevalent.
The FDA hasn’t approved Lyrica for anxiety disorders though the European Commission has. Lyrica has been tested as a means of treating tremors that are associated with the likes of Parkinson’s disease. It is also being studied as a treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
What is in Lyrica That Makes it Addictive?
The potential for Lyrica abuse or addiction is possible. Pregabalin is a type V substance so it’s not considered to be extremely addictive. On the list of addictive drugs, Lyrica sits in the category of low risk. The point is however that Lyrica abuse potential exists as it is on the list.
While Pregabalin doesn’t produce the same kind of high and addiction rates as other prescription drugs, it does relax you greatly. When compared to highly addictive prescription drugs like oxycodone, which causes a feeling of euphoria, the high you get with Lyrica is slight. Why Lyrica is addictive is due to the loss of pain coupled with a relaxed feeling which does offer a mild high.
Some people may become dependent on escaping their every feelings of pain or anxiety. There has been no proof documenting that you can become chemically addicted to Lyrica but there is risk of psychological dependence. This is especially true for those with addictive personalities or a previous history of addiction to other substances.
Side Effects and Risks of Taking Lyrica
Lyrica abuse and addiction shouldn’t be discounted. It may seem harmless, sitting low on the addiction spectrum, but it can still result in you needing to admit yourself into prescription medication addiction rehab. Lyrica abuse potential grows all the time due to an increasing amount of people being prescribed the medication. Pregabalin was created as an anticonvulsant to treat seizures and pain related to nerve damage. It can also help anxiety but was not FDA approved to do so. This hasn’t stopped doctors from administering it to the public however. It’s not as addictive as the other prescription painkillers which is why doctors feel it’s a safe bet to prescribe. There are risks of Lyrica addiction and abuse however.
When Lyrica was introduced to the FDA for approval, they were unsure due to the side effects that came along with it. Trials of Lyrica concluded that 9% of those who used the drug over a 12-week period gained weight. On average, a patient with fibromyalgia weighs 180 pounds on a 5 foot 4-inch maximum height so weight gain poses a problem amongst these patients. Lyrica can also cause fluid retention, which results in swelling, also known as edema.
Further side effects include:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Problems with clear vision
- Unsteadiness, which can cause clumsiness
- You may bruise easily
- Dry mouth
- Swelling of breasts, arms, hands, feet, and ankles
- Problems with speech
- Muscle twitches
There are also serious side effects and if you experience any of these, you should immediately stop using Lyrica and contact your doctor.
- Increase in your heartbeat
- Sore throat
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Pain in your muscles
- Difficulty breathing
There are some risks involved with taking Lyrica such as:
- Panic attacks
- Withdrawal from friends or normal activities you once liked
- Aggressive nature
- There’s a possibility of a decrease in fertility in males
- Birth defects
Lyrica addiction is also a risk and you may feel like you want to continue taking it even if it doesn’t work for you. The addiction potential is proven by the symptoms of withdrawal that are like stopping any drug. You may seek out Lyrica to get your fix or exhibit other drug-seeking behaviors. Some patients stated that the withdrawal was scary due to thoughts of suicide.
Who is at Risk of Lyrica Addiction?
Traditionally, Lyrica abuse wouldn’t occur in people who are homeless or heavy drug users. It’s a prescription to manage something completely non-related to drugs. It’s much more likely that Lyrica addiction is occurring with professionals. Lyrica abuse potential is due to it’s ability to create relaxation in the body, something professionals need. The relaxing nature of Pregabalin can cause a psychological attachment those in high stress professions. It isn’t what is in Lyrica that is addictive as much as the unexplainable relaxing effects it offers.
What is the Lyrica Abuse Potential?
When the FDA is considering whether a new medication will be approved, one of the things they assess is it’s potential to be abused. When studies were conducted to determine Lyrica abuse potential, they rated Lyrica as having a similar feeling to Valium, which can be very serious. It’s the high that most people will feel a mild dependency on. Medical professionals have no idea why Lyrica produces a high as it doesn’t act in receptors of the brain that are usually connected with drug abuse. It is a new medicine so nobody quite knows why is Lyrica addictive or what the potential is for abuse.
Can Lyrica be abused? While it isn’t the easiest drug to abuse, it is a controlled substance which means the potential is there. As it sits on the addiction spectrum with a class V label to it, Lyrica can be abused and it is considered addictive. It can be when mixed with other drugs. You should never combine Lyrica with alcohol or street drugs. Also, don’t combine it with medication that slows down the central nervous system, causing drowsiness.
This can include:
- Sleeping pills
- Prescription narcotic painkillers
- Muscle relaxants
When combined with anti-anxiety drugs, Lyrica can exaggerate the drowsiness they cause. Using Lyrica while drinking alcohol can also exaggerate the inebriation effects.
It’s important to note that a general drug test for work or school may not show you’ve been using Lyrica. For some that have a problem with being sober, this is one of the drugs that can allow them to continue using a substance that will distort their reality without a trace.
Long Term Users Become Physically Dependent on Lyrica
Lyrica abuse is the most prevalent for those who have been taking it long-term. The body grows more dependent and requires heavier doses to work properly. The larger the dose, the more difficult it is for the body to live without it.
While it’s been tested to produce a good feeling effect on the brain, there is no chemical makeup of the drug that should allow this. Some professionals believe it has something to do with the sudden lack of pain as opposed to a good feeling. It is dangerous to take without the supervision of a doctor and doses shouldn’t be increased on your own.
Chronic use of Lyrica can lead to a physical dependency on it. The withdrawal is said to be like alcohol or benzodiazepines symptoms. How severe the withdrawal depends on how long you’ve been using Lyrica and what your doses are.
Signs of Lyrica Addiction?
Is Lyrica addictive? The answer lies in the definition of addiction. If you’re addicted to medicine and you stop, the body is unable to function correctly. Withdrawal symptoms occur and you feel like you need to remain on the medication to prevent those symptoms from happening.
When it comes to the Lyrica addiction, there are some signs involved. If any of the symptoms sound familiar to you, you may want to contact your doctor or an addiction specialist based in a residential treatment center.
- If you think Lyrica has stopped relieving your pain but you continue to take it.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t take Lyrica regularly.
- You have tried to quit using Lyrica but have been unable to stay off it.
- You have a previous history of drug or alcohol addiction.
- You abuse Lyrica by using it with other drugs or alcohol to avoid emotional pain.
- You are taking Lyrica even though the side effects are unpleasant and you don’t think it’s working for your original illness.
Withdrawal from Lyrica
The withdrawal symptoms from Lyrica aren’t pleasant. They can even cause the seizures to come back at a more frequent level. Other withdrawal symptoms include:
- Tingling sensations
Lyrica withdrawal comes with similar symptoms to that of other drugs or alcohol. Even if the medication stops working for you, you may find it difficult to stop using. What is in Lyrica that is addictive is not known. It has shown to be habit-forming and can cause a physical dependency to some degree.
When asking the question is Lyrica addictive, many would say it isn’t based on it’s cellular makeup. However, when combined with individuals that form habits easily or have addictive personalities, there is addiction potential. The feel-good components of Pregabalin may have something to do with Lyrica abuse. Again, not much is yet known about the drug and it is not administered for general illness.