A bottle of gabapentin with other drugs

Gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) are prescription medications used for treating neuropathic pain syndromes and other disorders. Despite historically being believed to have a low addiction potential, both gabapentin and pregabalin have become increasingly popular as drugs of abuse.

Here we take a look at gabapentin and pregabalin abuse, addiction, and withdrawal.

Gabapentin

What is gabapentin?A box of Lyrica pills sits on a table

Gabapentin is an oral prescription anti-epileptic drug under the brand name Neurontin or Gralise. (1)

What is gabapentin used for?

According to Dr. Kaci Durbin, gabapentin is typically prescribed for partial seizures, postherpetic neuralgia, and various other uses. Brands of gabapentin are used in adults to treat neuropathic pain as well.

Pregabalin

What is pregabalin?

According to Dr. Jeffrey Fudin, pregabalin is prescribed for many of the same uses as gabapentin, but also for fibromyalgia and diabetic neuropathic pain. (2) It is often prescribed to those that have had pain caused by nerve damage due to diabetes or shingles.

Gabapentin and pregabalin abuse

Many reports of gabapentin abuse have begun to surface. Gabapentin reportedly produces a marijuana-like buzz when taken alone. Gabapentin is also frequently taken with other narcotics to potentiate their effects. For example, approximately one-third of the overdose deaths in Kentucky in the year of 2017 involved gabapentin. (3)

In recent years, gabapentin has jumped to the top-10 most commonly prescribed drugs as of 2017. Despite all this, gabapentin remains undesignated as a controlled substance by federal authorities. (4)

Pregabalin abuse has also seen a sharp increase in recent years. (5) The effects are said to be similar to that of Valium or alcohol. (6) Individuals typically take much higher doses than medically intended, which can be potentially dangerous and physically addicting. (7)

Does gabapentin cause a withdrawal syndrome? What is the Withdrawal timeline?

Both gabapentin and pregabalin abuse can lead to a physical addiction to the drugs. (6) (8) This means a withdrawal syndrome will occur if the individual suddenly stops taking the medications, which can include the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Palpation
  • Excitability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Itching

According to a 2016 study, these symptoms typically begin to manifest within 24-hours of the last dose and persist for around one week. (9)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


Sources

  1. https://www.drugs.com/gabapentin.html
  2. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/jeffrey-fudin/2015/09/how-gabapentin-differs-from-pregabalin
  3. https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2018/5/11/abuse-of-gabapentin-on-the-rise
  4. https://www.statnews.com/2017/07/06/gabapentin-becomes-target-of-opioid-abuse/
  5. https://emj.bmj.com/content/30/10/874.2
  6. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/pregabalin-new-valium-doctors-call-restricted-sharp-rise-abuse-misuse-prisons-addiction-bma-yasir-a7817601.html
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24760436
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26721643
  9. https://www.ejmanager.com/mnstemps/91/apd_17_13_18.pdf?t=1544202249