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Lyrica (Pregabalin) Abuse – Can You Get High From Lyrica?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 26, 2019

Lyrica (pregabalin) is an anticonvulsant medication that can cause a person to feel calm, relaxed, or euphoric. Taking Lyrica other than how it’s prescribed can lead to dependence and addiction.

Lyrica is the brand name for pregabalin, a gabapentinoid medication. Lyrica is commonly prescribed to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, and comes in capsule and liquid form.

Individuals prescribed this medication should be careful to take the dose exactly as prescribed. Lyrica affects the brain’s dopamine reward system. This can cause feelings of relaxation, sedation, euphoria, or feeling “high.”

Because of the potential for abuse and addiction, Lyrica should be taken with caution.

What Is Lyrica (Pregabalin) Used For?

Lyrica is an anticonvulsant medication that was first developed to treat seizure disorders. Lyrica is now prescribed for people that suffer from neurological symptoms like neuropathy (nerve pain that causes tingling, numbness, and pain throughout the body).

This medication may also be prescribed for people who suffer nerve pain as a result of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia. Lyrica can also be prescribed in the treatment of shingles and general anxiety disorder.

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Is Lyrica (Pregabalin) Addictive?

Every drug comes with a list of side effects. For some people, the medication’s benefits will outweigh any risk of potential side effects (including addiction). But because Lyrica can produce feelings of calm and well-being, people may abuse this medication.

Research states that those suffering from mental health conditions or opioid addiction are especially at risk for Lyrica abuse.

People who abuse Lyrica may take the medication more often than prescribed, or in larger doses than directed.

If a person obtains Lyrica from any source other than their health care provider, they may be struggling with Lyrica abuse.

Side Effects Of Lyrica (Pregabalin) Abuse

When a person becomes dependent on a drug, their system requires that substance in order to function. Lyrica dependence can affect a person’s appetite, sleep, family life, and work performance.

Even if taken as prescribed, Lyrica has the potential to cause serious side effects. If a person abuses Lyrica, these side effects could be intensified.

Side effects of Lyrica (pregabalin) include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • muscle soreness or weakness
  • blurred vision
  • weight gain
  • trouble concentrating
  • swelling of hands and feet
  • suicidal thoughts

People that abuse Lyrica may exhibit additional side effects, including:

  • doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions)
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • financial issues
  • extreme mood swings
  • irritability and violence, especially if unable to access Lyrica
  • poor judgment

It’s important to note that antiepileptic medications like Lyrica can cause suicidal thoughts or actions. If you have thoughts about harming yourself or experience panic attacks, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Also, if you notice any new or worsened depression symptoms, get in touch with your healthcare provider.

Lyrica (Pregabalin) Overdose

If a person is using Lyrica to get high, they run the risk of overdose. Overdoses that include Lyrica are on the rise, and the drug has been listed on increasing numbers of toxicology reports.

Individuals that use Lyrica with other drugs, especially opioids, are at an increased risk for overdose. Since 2012, nearly 9,000 cases of gabapentinoid abuse have been reported.
Knowing the signs of a Lyrica overdose could save someone’s life. Even if a person is taking Lyrica as directed, they may forget a dose and take too much the next day.

Signs of Lyrica overdose include:

  • confusion
  • depression
  • agitation
  • restlessness
  • fatigue
  • seizures

If you or someone close to you is showing signs of a Lyrica overdose, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Lyrica (Pregabalin) Withdrawal And Detox

Individuals that abuse Lyrica may take more than prescribed and run out of their prescription early. If a person dependent on Lyrica stops their use suddenly, they may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Someone withdrawing from Lyrica may experience symptoms such as:

  • body aches
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • flu-like symptoms
  • joint pain
  • seizures
  • sweating
  • itchiness
  • feeling tired
  • nausea
  • weight gain
  • mood swings
  • irritability

Sometimes individuals try to stop taking Lyrica on their own, and end up caught in a painful withdrawal/relapse cycle.

If you want to get off of Lyrica, talk to your doctor about a tapering schedule and medical detoxification. Medical detox can be a helpful tool for those who have had unsuccessful attempts to get off Lyrica in the past.

In medical detox programs, people struggling with Lyrica addiction are provided a safe and supervised environment where they can pass through the withdrawal stage.
Compassionate medical staff provide support and medication-assisted treatment, which help relieve withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.

Treatment For Lyrica (Pregabalin) Abuse And Addiction

Addiction affects millions of families throughout the U.S. Prescription addictions like Lyrica can be even more difficult to overcome, as they usually involve complicated medical concerns in addition to dependence.

For those struggling with Lyrica abuse, innovative addiction treatment can be a life-changing solution. Many addiction rehab centers have on-site detox programs that help patients through the difficult initial stages of treatment and recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends at least 90 days in treatment, in order to increase the chance of long-term recovery. Inpatient (residential) treatment is the highest level of care, as clients are provided a protected atmosphere in which to detox and begin treatment.

Outpatient programs are also available, which allow clients to attend treatment sessions on a more flexible schedule. With a rigorous treatment schedule and strong support network, recovery from Lyrica addiction is possible.

To learn more about Lyrica abuse, or to explore treatment options near you, reach out to one of our specialists today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health - Abuse and Misuse of Pregabalin and Gabapentin., Misuse and abuse of pregabalin and gabapentin: cause for concern?, Pregabalin for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: an update

Pfizer Medical Information - LYRICA® (pregabalin) capsules or oral solution, CV

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