Pregabalin Symptoms and Warning Signs

Pregabalin is a medication that is often prescribed to treat health conditions such as fibromyalgia, epilepsy, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and neuropathic pain. It is also prescribed off-label to treat conditions including migraine prevention, restless leg syndrome, and social anxiety disorder. Additionally, pregabalin is used to lessen potential symptoms that may arise in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.

However, pregabalin has a high potential for abuse because when taken in high doses it can induce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and calmness. The effects of pregabalin are similar to those of tranquilisers and, as with said tranquilisers, many people use it for recreational purposes. It is often taken in conjunction with other substances such as opiates because it can enhance the euphoric effects these drugs have. Doing this though increases the risk of harm.

Although pregabalin is a prescription-only medication, it is often found on the black market and sold to those who have developed an addiction to it. When buying pregabalin in this way though, it is impossible to tell if it is genuine; taking medication that is not pure can greatly increase the potential for harm.

Other Names for Pregabalin

  • Lyrica
  • Lyrica CR
  • Rewisca
  • Lecaent
  • Alzain

Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Pregabalin Abuse

Pregabalin has a very high potential for abuse and is becoming a major problem here in the UK. It is important, therefore, to be alert to the signs of abuse so that you can act appropriately and prevent a full-blown addiction from occurring.

As you can build up a tolerance to pregabalin quite quickly, you may find that you are not getting the same relief from it that you once did. Your response may be to take more of the drug than prescribed, but this can then lead to a physical addiction. You might end up getting to the stage where you feel as though you cannot function without pregabalin.

If you are taking this medication to change the way you feel and are thus allowing it to interfere with daily life, you could already have a problem. You may be preoccupied with pregabalin and spend most of your time thinking about when you can next take the drug. This is a common sign of abuse.

If you are taking more pregabalin than advised to by your doctor, or you are taking it at increasingly frequent intervals in order to achieve the desired feelings, you are in danger of developing a serious problem. Additionally, if you are taking pregabalin that was prescribed for another person, now is the time to seek out some professional help.

The Dangers of Pregabalin Abuse

Abusing any mood-altering substance is dangerous and pregabalin is no different. Chemical substances can alter the way the brain functions, making it harder to make good decisions.

Taken in large doses, pregabalin can have profound negative consequences. Suicidal thoughts are common with pregabalin use, and the risk is higher the larger the doses taken. Furthermore, because the mind is clouded by the chemicals being taken, you are more likely to put yourself in harm’s way.

Another danger of pregabalin abuse is that your behaviour could change dramatically. You will have less and less time for those you care about, for example, which can lead to problems within your relationships.

Constantly being under the influence of pregabalin makes it harder to perform well at school or at work, which in turn has a major impact on your prospects or your ability to earn an income. This can lead to financial problems and you taking desperate measures to obtain your medication of choice, including turning to criminal activity.

Recognising a Pregabalin Addiction

An addiction to pregabalin can often occur without you realising, especially if you have been taking it to treat a genuine medical condition. It is just too easy to abuse prescription medication without even realising what is happening.

For example, and as alluded to in the above paragraphs, if you are no longer getting the same relief from pregabalin as you did when initially taking it, you could conclude that there is no harm in increasing the dose or taking the medication more often.

Consider how you use pregabalin to figure out if you might have an addiction to the substance. Are you taking it to make you feel better or to help you function? Do you feel irritable when unable to take medication or when the prescription is close to running out?

You start trying to source your medication elsewhere or visiting more than one doctor in a bid to get multiple prescriptions. You might also be neglecting responsibilities at home and/or work because of your pregabalin use.

In a nutshell, if your use of pregabalin is affecting your everyday life yet you continue to use it regardless, it is highly likely that you have an addiction. Consequently, you will need professional help to try to regain control of your life once more.

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Pregabalin Addiction and the Brain

The precise way in which pregabalin works is currently not fully understood. However, it is thought that it affects various neurotransmitters in the brain by interrupting the way in which certain messages are sent and received. Scientists also believe that pregabalin affects the release of glutamate, substance P, and noradrenaline.

By reducing the release of these neurotransmitters, electrical activity in the brain is stabilised. When this happens, it can help to treat conditions such as epilepsy and anxiety disorders. The effect on glutamate and substance P helps when nerve pain is an issue.

Nevertheless, pregabalin is also responsible for stimulating the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. In some individuals, this results in a surge of pleasurable feelings coupled with a stimulated reward system. Usually, the upshot of this is an addiction.

Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Pregabalin Abuse

The immediate side effects of pregabalin abuse include:

  • relaxation
  • euphoria
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • lack of coordination
  • anxiety
  • weakness
  • increased appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • slurred speech
  • weight gain
  • suicidal thoughts.

Learn the Long-Term Pregabalin Side Effects

Pregabalin is a relatively new drug so the long-term side effects are not well known at the time of this writing. Nonetheless, it is believed that chronic abuse of the medication can lead to issues such as:

  • depression
  • heart problems
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease.

Intervention for a Pregabalin Addiction

As you have probably realised by reading the above text, the risk of addiction to pregabalin is quite high, but it is often the case that those affected are unaware of how serious their problem actually is. If someone you care about has been prescribed pregabalin, it is important to be alert to a change in his or her behaviour.

If this person is suffering from mood swings and is neglecting spending time with you, friends, or other members of the family, it could be because he or she has developed a problem with the medication. You should know though that the red flags you are seeing may not be so obvious to the affected individual.

Generally, most addicts are unable to see when they have a problem, especially early on in the addiction. You might see the subtle changes that could indicate a problem but your loved one might not be aware of how his or her behaviour has changed.

If you believe a problem exists, it is better to address it sooner rather than later. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need for the person to hit rock bottom before seeking help. In fact, the sooner he or she gets help, the easier it will be for him or her to regain control and get things on an even keel once more.

Detox and Withdrawal from Pregabalin

As pregabalin is a central nervous system depressant, it is highly likely that you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. The withdrawal symptoms are similar to those experienced during alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal. How severe these will be though depends on the length of time you have been abusing the drug and how severe your addiction was. Whether you were abusing other substances simultaneously will also have an impact on the withdrawals.

The general consensus, and something we highly recommend as well is to complete a pregabalin detox within a supervised facility as there is a risk of severe withdrawal symptoms occurring. Without appropriate treatment and effective management, you may even be at risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. This is why detoxing at home is not a recommended option for this type of addiction.

Treatment and Next Steps

The first step on the road to recovery from a pregabalin addiction is the above-mentioned detox, but this is alone is not enough. While detox helps to address the physical symptoms associated with pregabalin addiction, it does nothing to deal with the underlying cause of the illness. For this, a programme of rehabilitation is required.

Rehab for pregabalin addiction involves a series of treatments including individual counselling and group therapy. If you choose to recover in a private clinic, you will benefit from a residential programme in an environment that is free from all distractions. Another benefit of such a programme in a private facility is the fact that they are usually accessible immediately, meaning there is no need for you to wait for a place to become available.

Although inpatient programmes have many benefits, they are not for everyone. If you are unable to be away from home for any length of time, you can opt to be treated in an outpatient clinic instead. This will mean attending regular counselling sessions, but you will not have to stay in the clinic.

The type of programme you choose ultimately depends on the severity of your illness, your personal preferences, and your individual situation.

Questions about Treatment

How much is private addiction treatment?

The cost of private rehab treatment for addiction varies from one provider to the next. The average cost is between £4,000 and £6,000 for a twenty-eight-day programme, but this depends on several factors.

Some private clinics cost less than this while others are much more expensive. Basically, the level of luxury of the clinic will play a role in how much you pay.

What will happen in a residential clinic?

Each clinic is run slightly differently but most follow a similar pattern in terms of treatments and daily schedules. If you choose a residential clinic, you will probably stay in a private or semi-private room and will spend most of your day in treatment or taking part in other recovery-related activities.

It is likely that you will have your meals in a shared dining room with other patients, and you may have some free time in the evenings and at weekends where you can interact with the other patients as you relax after treatment.

You will more than likely be given your own programme of treatment that has been designed around your needs. This will include a variety of therapies such as individual counselling, group therapy, and holistic treatments all designed to help you overcome your addiction.

Is rehab available on the NHS?

The NHS provides treatment for all types of addiction, including pregabalin addiction. However, funding is limited, which means waiting lists are common. If you want to access an NHS-run programme, talk to your GP who will refer you to a local treatment centre. You should be aware though that you may have a wait before an initial consultation.

How do I know which programme is right for me?

A good rehab programme will be one that meets all your needs. When trying to decide if you should opt for an inpatient or outpatient programme, you will need to consider the severity of your illness, your budget, and your individual circumstances.

For example, you will benefit from an inpatient programme if your addiction is quite severe and if you are unlikely to be able to stay sober on the outside world. However, you may not benefit from such a programme if it would be difficult for you to be away from home for an extended period. Finding the right rehab programme is all about addressing a balance and making sure all your requirements are met.

Can my family visit?

Your family will be encouraged to be a part of your recovery journey and may be invited to take part in family therapy sessions as a way to help with the healing process. It is well known that addiction is a family illness and that it can have a devastating impact on everyone close to you. For this reason, your family members will get the chance to take part in therapy that will help them overcome the issues that have directly and indirectly affected you.

Away from family therapy sessions, there is likely to be set visiting times where your family members can come to see you during your programme. Depending on the provider, these visits may be restricted in the first couple of weeks, giving you a chance to settle in and make some progress before the family arrive to see how you are doing.

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