Addiction to the medically prescribed Gabapentin and Pregabalin is a growing concern in the UK and around the world. Because of their addictive properties, they are commonly abused by drug addicts and prescription pill addicts. This page will give you all the information that you need to know about gabapentin and Pregabalin addiction, what gabapentin and Pregabalin are, their common uses, their effects, treatment options, rehab and how to spot the signs of gabapentin and Pregabalin addiction in yourself or a loved one.

Call us, or chat to us live now, for immediate, confidential and expert help and advice for a problem with Gabapentin or Pregabalin!

What Is Gabapentin and What Is It Used For?

Gabapentin also known as Neurontin is medically prescribed to treat a number of conditions and ailments including shingles, epilepsy, restless leg syndrome and neuropathic pain. It is an anticonvulsant, most commonly prescribed to control and reduce seizures and those suffering from a neuropathic pain related condition. It is only available legally on prescription, but has a great potential to be abused, has some very nasty side effects and can be very difficult to withdraw from safely.

The side effects alone can be very dangerous, especially if the medication is being abused or mixed with other drugs. Here are just a few of the most common side effects from using Gabapentin. If you are medically prescribed Gabapentin and suffer from any of these side effects at a distressing level, you should immediately consult your doctor. The chance of developing these unpleasant side effects will only increase if you abuse the medication. Symptoms highlighted in bold, require urgent medical attention

  • changes in behaviour, acting restless, hostile or aggressive
  • Increased drowsiness, confusion, weakness and tiredness
  • trouble concentrating; memory problems
  • increased seizures
  • upper stomach pain
  • chest pain, new or worsening cough with fever, trouble breathing
  • severe tingling or numbness, dizziness
  • rapid back and forth movement of your eyes;
  • kidney problems–little or no urination, painful or difficult urination, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath; or severe skin reaction–fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Dosage can vary depending on the condition being treated but in some cases, patients have been titrated up to 3600mg a day in patients that tolerate it well. It can also be prescribed to young children as an anti-epilepsy drug.

Is Gabapentin Dangerous?

image showing the title lyrica and neurontin linked to opioid overdoses

Gabapentin is very dangerous when abused or mixed with other drugs, including alcohol. Taking the drug with another opioid or sedative can lead to overdose and death. Binging on gabapentin can also lead to overdose and death. It is also dangerous to stop the drug suddenly if you have been taking it for some time; this can lead to seizures and respiratory problems, increased anxiety, aggressive and violent behaviour and even suicidal thoughts or actions. If you are thinking about stopping Gabapentin, it is essential that you seek professional and medical advice so a reduction programme can be followed and monitored medically. This particular medication is similar to Pregabalin as it is used to treat very similar conditions, but is not as strong. Recreational use and abuse of this drug has increased dramatically over the years to alarming rates, prescriptions have also risen. Because it can be administered orally in a solution to young patients, addiction to this medication can start at a very early age. Gabapentin should only be taken on prescription and as prescribed for a genuine medical condition, diagnosed by a medical professional or specialist.

What are the Effects of Gabapentin That Makes It Attractive to Addicts and Drug Users?

Gabapentin can produce effects similar to that of Benzodiazepines  in some; making the user feel relaxed, calm and euphoric. Some that abuse the drug report that snorting Gabapentin has a stimulant effect. When mixed with other drugs, such as opiates, the euphoric effects are even more pronounced and this is what makes it attractive to opioid drug users. However this only increases the risks associated with overdosing on the drug. Both Gabapentin and Pregabalin can be ingested in a number of ways to gain a greater affect for someone who is abusing it; this includes crushing the tablets and snorting, crushing and swallowing, crushed and smoked or dissolved and injected

image showing the emerging trends in prescription drug abuse

Alarming Increased Trend in Prescribing Abuse for Gabapentin

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What Is Pregabalin and What Is Pregabalin Used for?

Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant and also treats neuropathic pain. Its effects on the user’s brain reduce nerve pain and also seizures.

Pregabalin is a prescribed medication, only available legally on prescription from your Doctor or pain management Consultant. It is a powerful drug that can be used to successfully treat a number of ailments and long term conditions such as nerve pain (spinal cord injury, nerve damage, shingles and fibromyalgia). It can also be used to control certain types of seizures, when combined with other approved medications. It comes under the common brand name of Lyrica and can also be used to treat generalised anxiety  disorder (GAD).

Pregabalin comes in tablet form and in various strengths. Typically, a doctor will start a patient on a low dose and gradually increase until the condition is under control. The initial dose is usually 50mg three times a day; this can be increased to a maximum dose of 100mg three times a day (only in patients that tolerate the drug well and in the most severe cases)

If you are taking Pregabalin regularly, it is VERY important that you do not stop the medication suddenly or reduce without medical supervision. Stopping suddenly or reducing too quickly can lead to some very dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including seizures and even death

Is Pregabalin Dangerous?

Pregabalin is not dangerous IF taken as prescribed. However if you are abusing the medication, taking more than the prescribed dose or taking the medication off prescription illicitly, it is very dangerous. Overdosing on Pregabalin, abusing Pregabalin and mixing with other non-prescribed drugs or alcohol can lead to coma and death

Is Pregabalin Addictive?

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Yes, Pregabalin is very addictive, the longer you take it, your body will build a tolerance; meaning that your body and brain become dependent on Pregabalin. Attempting to stop Pregabalin can be very difficult for those that have become dependent, with withdrawal symptoms affecting both the body and the mind. Symptoms of withdrawal will vary in severity, depending on the amount used and how long the individual has been taking it for. Withdrawal symptoms include:

Acute Anxiety, Diarrhoea, Vomiting, Sweating, Skin sensitivity and nerve pain, Tremors, Suicidal thoughts, Depression, Aches and pains, Seizures, Insomnia, Loss of appetite, Intense cravings for Pregabalin or other drug seeking behaviour  

Pregabalin should gradually be reduced with careful supervision from a medical practitioner. If you are abusing Pregabalin, mixing it with other drugs, prescribed or illicit, or taking a very high dosage, exceptional care should be taken with a gradual reduction plan agreed and supervised by a medical professional.

Public Health England Issue Warning for Gabapentin and Pregabalin Dependency and Abuse

Both Gabapentin and Pregabalin are used commonly to treat epilepsy and neuropathic pain. Pregabalin is also used to treat generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Public Health England (PHE) have warned that there is a growing trend to the misuse of both of these substances and that practitioners should be more aware when it comes to handing out prescriptions. Both drugs can also lead to dependency. PHE have advised practitioners to prescribe for appropriate conditions only and take into account if the patient has had addiction to drugs or alcohol previously or currently. In cases such as this as this it would be dangerous to prescribe either of these drugs because of the potential of abuse of the medication. Both gabapentin and Pregabalin have been associated with producing significant euphoric effects and that the illegal market for both drugs is growing rapidly. PHE have asked practitioners to watch carefully and monitor patients for signs of abuse or dependence, if suspected, the patient’s prescription should be reviewed by the practitioner and the concerns discussed with the patient and documented clearly in the patient’s notes.

Mortality Rates of Gabapentin and Pregabalin

There have been many cases of overdosing from gabapentin and Pregabalin, especially when abused or mixed with other drugs that have a sedative effect. Both gabapentin and Pregabalin can produce similar effects to that of Benzodiazepines such as Diazepam and Heroin , when taken in large amounts. There has been a noted sharp rise in the abuse of the drug with 38 death certificates in 2014 mentioning these drugs as a contributing factor to death. Doctors feel that this is only the very tip of the problem and that there are vast number of individuals that are addicted to the medicine and many more abusing it. Hard core drug users are the most likely to overdose on it and abuse it for its effects. Statistics show that men are at higher risk of death from prescription painkillers and opiates than women.

Pregabalin – Hailed as the New Valium?

Pregabalin has been frequently prescribed to treat generalised anxiety disorder (GAD); its sedative properties make the user feel more relaxed, calmer and in control. In higher doses it produces euphoria and drowsiness…it is this effect that addicts and those that abuse it seek. Pregabalin is very similar to valium in the effect produced, although the two are not related. Doctors have recently expressed much concern over the drug and its increase in illicit use and prescription. They feel that the impending reduction of the cost of Pregabalin will make prescribing more frequent and will only make things worse. Doctors are calling for Pregabalin to be classified as a controlled drug. This will ensure a certain criteria is met before it is prescribed and then its prescription will be monitored much more closely. It has been reported that Pregabalin is a huge problem especially in UK prison system; with many going into prison addicted to it, or making up symptoms in order to have it prescribed. Like all prescribed medicines, Pregabalin does have a genuine valid purpose medically, but its potential for abuse requires it to be monitored much more closely.

image showing the 3 most abused drug classes

How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Pregabalin?

Dependency affects every individual differently and will depend on the frequency and the dosage taken. There have been reports of withdrawal symptoms developing on trying to stop Pregabalin physically dependent or not, do not attempt to stop the medication without first consulting a medical practitioner. Withdrawal effects are very similar to that of high levels of codeine  and diazepam and have even been compared to Heroin

The Effects of Pregabalin and How It Makes you Feel

Pregabalin in low doses has a similar effect to diazepam, making the user feel relaxed and chilled out. In higher doses, it can produce a similar effect to Heroin and other strong opioids, with intense feelings of euphoria, warmth, relaxation and sleepiness.

Side Effects of Pregabalin / Lyrica

Not everyone is able to tolerate Pregabalin / Lyrica as the side effects can be very uncomfortable and distressing for some, especially in higher doses. Mixing Pregabalin with other drugs is only likely to increase the chance of unpleasant side effects occurring and the dangerous effects of the drug in the individual.

  • Vertigo, dizziness, unsteadiness, coordination difficulties, abnormal gait
  • Sleepiness, fatigue, drowsiness
  • Confusion, abnormal thinking, difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Accidental injury
  • Dry mouth
  • Fluid retention in hands or feet, oedema
  • Blurred vision, difficulty with eyesight
  • Weight gain and increased appetite
  • Constipation, wind
  • Pain
  • Skin reaction, rash, dermatitis (please seek medical attention urgently)
  • Depression, suicidal ideations, actions or self-harm
  • Muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis)
  • Tremor
  • Blood disorders

Dramatic Increase in UK Gabapentin and Pregabalin Prescriptions and Street Use

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Public Health England and NHS England issued warnings two years ago in accordance with a growing concern over the vast rise in the prescribing of Pregabalin and Gabapentin. They pointed out that 8.2 million prescriptions were issued for the two drugs in 2013; showing an alarming rise of 46% for Gabapentin and a rise of 53% for Pregabalin over the previous two years.

One recent study showed there are now more than 1,800 inmates in prisons in England and Wales being prescribed gabapentin or Pregabalin which represents nearly 3% of the prison population and is twice the rate of prescribing in the wider community.

One side-effect of the abuse and misuse of the two prescription drugs has been more chaotic, uninhibited behaviour amongst some heroin addicts, such as injecting in public and reckless/criminal behaviour.

Over the past four years the purity and strength of illegal street drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine  has been steadily on the increase, but the abuse of prescription drugs such as Pregabalin and Gabapentin is also now more prevalent than ever; chiefly amongst the UK’s opiate using and prison populations. Today, Doctors, prisons and hospitals are encountering more prescription drug addiction admissions and overdoses attributed to these two particular drugs than ever before. Opiate users who abuse Pregabalin and Gabapentin are more likely to overdose and die from over sedation causing respiratory failure.

 It is vital that if you or a loved one have a problem, addiction or abuse problem with either Gabapentin or Pregabalin that you seek immediate professional help. If you are an addict, things will only get worse and the consequences and near death experiences will increase.

how are prescription drugs abused graph

Addiction Helper are here to help you in a non-judgemental and informative, helpful way, so please do call us if you have a concern.

Signs and Symptoms of Gabapentin and Pregabalin Abuse/Addiction

If you are worried that you may have an addiction to Gabapentin or Pregabalin, or have concerns over a loved one, there are some definite signs and symptoms to look out for that would indicate that you or they are in need of immediate professional help:

  • You are prescribed Gabapentin or Pregabalin , but take more than the prescribed amount and use different doctors/ manipulate your GP for additional prescriptions or pad out prescriptions by buying additional Pregabalin off the street or from the internet
  • You are using Gabapentin or Pregabalin that is NOT prescribed for you
  • You binge on Gabapentin or Pregabalin or mix them with other drugs to gain a greater effect
  • You hide or are dishonest about your Gabapentin or Pregabalin use to others
  • You have suffered consequences as a result Gabapentin or Pregabalin use financially, emotionally, physically and to your personal relationships; yet still do not see a way you can stop
  • You are using Gabapentin or Pregabalin purely for the effect and not for a genuine medical complaint
  • You no longer gain the effect you crave from Gabapentin or Pregabalin so have resorted to using illicit or legal drugs on top
  • You want to stop, have tried to stop, but find you cannot
  • You stand to lose everything if you continue to abuse Gabapentin or Pregabalin but find yourself compelled to keep using it.
  • You have engaged in immoral or criminal activity whilst high on Gabapentin or Pregabalin
  • You use Gabapentin or Pregabalin to block out the world and your problems
  • Gabapentin or Pregabalin are causing you mental or physical health issues, yet you still cannot stop using it
  • Once you start taking Gabapentin or Pregabalin you often take more than you originally intended to
  • Friends and family have expressed concern over your behaviour or appearance related to your Gabapentin or Pregabalin use
  • You continue to use either drug, originally prescribed for a genuine medical complaint, even though the complaint has been resolved, and lie to your GP about your symptoms to continue access to prescriptions.
  • You have become withdrawn and lost interest in family, loved ones and the things you used to enjoy
  • You cannot imagine a life without Gabapentin or Pregabalin yet know it is now causing you and those you love a great deal of harm

If you recognise any of these symptoms within yourself as a gabapentin or Pregabalin user, or in someone you know, please seek help and call or chat to us live online immediately.   

What Causes Gabapentin and Pregabalin Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease, as recognised by Public Health England, but because gabapentin and Pregabalin are a prescribed drug, many become addicted to it without even realising. If you are using gabapentin or Pregabalin that is not on prescription for you, you definitely have a problem. If you are using it for a genuine medical complaint that has now been resolved and are trying to stop but cannot, this is probably due to the fact that you have a dependency to the drug physically and mentally. Gabapentin and Pregabalin are very addictive and for an individual with addictive tendencies, if not very carefully managed and monitored, can be an addiction that easily spins out of control and escalates very rapidly

Teenagers and Prescription Pill Addiction

Prescription pill addiction  often starts in the teenage years, with easy access to pills prescribed by the doctor or provided by family members and friends, slowly escalating to stronger medications as the original tablets stop working for them. Gabapentin, in particular can be prescribed to individuals from a very young age, leaving them more prone to dependency and the potential to go on to abusing the medication in later years by mixing with alcohol and other drugs through an experimental phase.

How Do Most Addicts Get Their Gabapentin and Pregabalin and Prescription Pills?

Contrary to popular believe it is not from the NHS; their addiction may well have started off with prescribed medication, but as the addiction grows, if the doctor suspects abuse they are likely to stop the prescription. Those that are addicted to the medication or abuse it, usually obtain it by the following methods:

This paints a much clearer picture and you can see how, by obtaining prescription pills free from family or friends, an addiction to any painkiller can start at a very young age. Addiction Helper feel it is very important that parents and caregivers educate children and teenagers as to the dangers and risks associated with prescription pill addiction

How Do I know if I am abusing Gabapentin or Pregabalin?

Below is a simple chart that will help you to decide if you are abusing prescribed medications such as Gabapentin or Pregabalin. If you are, please call us now for a free and confidential assessment as to how we can help you best overcome your problem:

Driving Laws on Prescription Medications

Driving whilst impaired under the influence of any drug, even prescription medications, is classified the same as drink driving. Both Gabapentin and Pregabalin can seriously slow down your reactions, impair your cognitive decision making and cause drowsiness. With some drugs, if still affected, it is illegal to drive the next day also. It is important, that if you are negatively affected with drowsiness and other side effects that may affect your ability to drive safely, that you do not drive. Being caught by the police and being considered unfit to drive can carry heavy penalties and fines, not to forget the fact that you are putting yourself and others at great risk!

How Do I Stop Taking Gabapentin and Pregabalin and What Treatment Is Available to Help on the NHS?

If you are planning on stopping Gabapentin or Pregabalin, it is essential that you seek medical or professional help and advice first, so that you can be weaned off it at a pace that is safe for your body and mind. Addiction treatment on the NHS for prescription drugs is very limited. A Doctor can put you on a tapering off regime and you can seek help and support from your local Drug and Alcohol team, but because it is a prescription medication, unless you are also using

Are There Meetings for Gabapentin and Pregabalin Addicts?

There are a number of self-help groups available Narcotics Anonymous cover all drugs, including prescriptions pills, you can find a meeting near you by visiting their page. Cocaine Anonymous also cover prescription pills and all mood and mind altering substances, including Class A’s, Cannabis and Alcohol. Both groups provide meetings and a 12 Step recovery programme and support for any individual suffering with an addiction to Gabapentin, Pregabalin or any other drug

Rehab for Gabapentin / Pregabalin Addiction

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For an individual who has an addiction to Gabapentin or Pregabalin, it is essential that they seek both medical and professional psychological addiction help. Some individuals need to be taken out of the toxic environment they have submerged themselves into and away from dealers and the daily pressure of life, in order to get well. Addiction Helper strongly recommend inpatient medical detoxification and rehabilitation for this particular addiction, due to the dangers and complications that can arise whilst withdrawing from the medication.

Our exemplary addiction rehab centres provide a full medical detox regime for those with a dependency to gabapentin, Pregabalin or any other kind of prescription pill, alcohol or illicit drug. The detox will be carefully monitored throughout by medical and therapeutic staff to ensure the patient’s safety at all times. We only work with CQC regulated treatment centres and have access to over 100 rehabs within the UK and also some elite and luxurious rehabs abroad. All of our approved rehabs adhere to strict medical and therapeutic guidelines and policies at all times.

Addiction Helper specialises in treating addiction; we understand that addiction is both a physical and mental illness and that both aspects need to be comprehensively treated in order to avoid relapse. By calling us, you will receive a comprehensive assessment free of charge, conducted by one of our addiction treatment experts; who will then make an informed decision as to the best treatment options available to you that are likely to be the most successful. We take all factors into consideration when treating addiction, to ensure that you are happy with your choice of rehab and that you have the best chance of a full and long term recovery. We can find you or your loved one the ideal treatment plan and rehab facility in which to recover from an addiction to gabapentin or Pregabalin, ranging from affordable to luxury treatment, with locations all over the UK and also overseas. We offer short term and long term programmes; the duration required to get you well will depend on your individual circumstances and the severity of your addiction and if any other substances are involved. We are also able to fully simultaneously treat co-occurring illnesses such as Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, OCD and Posttraumatic Stress (PTSD).

Following a successful medical detoxification from gabapentin or Pregabalin, the individual will then ideally undergo a full rehabilitation programme to address the psychological aspect of their addiction. Our rehabs are staffed by experienced and fully qualified addiction treatment experts, including doctors, nurses, counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, holistic therapists and highly trained and experienced support workers. Many of our staff are in recovery themselves, so have a unique insight and understanding of the addicts brain and associated maladaptive and destructive behaviours.

Our gabapentin and Pregabalin rehab centres only deliver the latest in evidence based addiction therapeutic and medical treatments such as: full medical detox, one to one counselling, process groups, trauma therapy, CBT, DBT, 12 Step therapy, group therapy, educational workshops, relapse prevention techniques, mindfulness, meditation, fitness programme, healthy eating programme and more!

Each individual’s treatment programme is specifically tailored to their individual medical, physical, social, emotional, spiritual and psychological treatment needs. We treat the individual as a whole, using person centred treatment techniques. Failing to treat the psychological aspect of a Gabapentin or Pregabalin addiction and the issues underpinning it, will usually result in relapse. For this particular addiction full inpatient residential detox and rehabilitation provides the individual with the best chance of staying permanently free from gabapentin and Pregabalin in future. Furthermore, all patients that complete their treatment programme will also receive 12 month complimentary aftercare at their chosen rehab. We consider this vital to the individual’s ongoing recovery and growth. It also assists with keeping the individual inspired and engaged in recovery and helps them to overcome any problems and challenges they may be facing back in their home environment.

Addiction is a killer illness and can affect anyone; if you or a loved one are suffering from a gabapentin or Pregabalin addiction or an abuse problem, it is important you seek help immediately. Call us now, we are open 24/7 and waiting for your call so we can help you take the first steps in breaking free from prescription pill addiction permanently!