Lyrica, or pregabalin, is a prescription drug for neuropathic pain and seizures. However, it is also known to be addictive. It is possible for it contribute to destructive habits, serious depression, and suicidal thoughts. With long-term misuse or abuse, withdrawal is a real possibility. Lyrica withdrawal can be dangerous and uncomfortable if done alone. It is always best to stop use under medical supervision or to seek treatment for help in dealing with withdrawal.
What is Lyrica?
Pregabalin works by binding to the alpha 2 delta site in the central nervous system (CNS). This calms down nerves and creates pain relief for those suffering neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is caused by damaged nerve endings, which can be caused by other diseases such as diabetes, shingles, or fibromyalgia. Lyrica can also be a useful medication for stopping or preventing focal seizures. While it is a useful drug in some situations, Lyrica potentially includes a host of different side effects such as:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight gain
- Blurred vision
- Unusual bruising
- Muscle pain
- Swelling extremities
- Kidney issues
- Suicidal thoughts
Lyrica addiction is uncommon, but it is possible for it to occur. Its negative effects have become more prevalent in recent years as prescriptions for it become more frequent. In the United States alone, over 64 million prescriptions were written for Lyrica (or some form of pregabalin) in 2016 alone. Given the high frequency of prescriptions, it is no wonder that the deaths associated with it have risen as well.
It is possible to experience addiction when it is taken in high enough doses. Misusing it can provide a euphoric feeling and can even create feelings of dissociation in some individuals. Any drug or substance that creates feelings of euphoria has the potential for dependence and addiction. It is the ‘high’ most drugs offer which keep individuals coming back. This is especially true for people with pre-existing mental health conditions, since they may seek out experiences which can help them escape negative thoughts and feelings.
Lyrica and depression
There are links between Lyrica, depression, and suicide. According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford looked at nearly 200,000 cases of individuals who used pregabalin between the years of 2006 to 2013 and found that 5.2% (over 10,000 people) were treated for suicidal behavior or died from suicide. A further 8.9% experienced overdoses and 6.3% were involved in serious car accidents. The study found that those using pregabalin were 26% more likely to experience suicidal behavior and 24% were likely to experience an overdose.
The recent increase in pregabalin-related deaths and injuries became so severe that the United Kingdom reclassified the drug as a Class C Drug. This made it illegal to own or possess any amount of the drug, sell the drug, or to import it. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers the drug to be a Schedule 5 controlled substance. This means it is recognized as a drug with a lower potential for abuse but can still cause harm.
Abruptly stopping Lyrica is potentially dangerous to your health. With addiction or even dependence, care is necessary in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. What is a withdrawal? Simply put, it is your body’s reaction to learning to cope without a constant supply of a stimulus. If you have been taking Lyrica for a number of years and suddenly stop, your body may struggle while learning how to survive without it.
Withdrawals are often incredibly painful and in some cases cause death or require hospitalization. The withdrawal symptoms for Lyrica are similar to that of alcohol and benzodiazepines. However, the severity depends on length of drug usage, the dosage, and the user’s history of abuse with other drugs.
Lyrica withdrawal symptoms include:
- Rapid heart beats
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
It is possible for these symptoms to occur individually, or all at once. They typically begin 1-2 days after someone stops using Lyrica. The most at-risk patients are those who depend on the drug for anti-seizure medication. This danger is why supervision from medical and mental health professionals is always necessary for quitting Lyrica.
How long does Lyrica stay in your system?
It is rare for employers or medical providers to test for Lyrica. However, it is still detectable in the body. How long it will stay in your system depends on various factors. Age, gender, genetic, metabolism, body-fat composition, and weight all play a role in determining how long the drug stays in someone’s system.
Via urine test, it is possible to detect Lyrica up to 6 days after ingestion, 2 days with a blood and saliva test and up to 6 months with a hair follicle test. Lyrica’s half-life is approximately 6 hours. A substance’s half-life indicates how long it takes for the ingested amount to reduce to half of its original size. In other words, if you ingest 10mg of Lyrica, it takes 6 hours for the drug to reduce to 5mg.
Deciding to seek help is a crucial step on the road to full recovery. Getting clean takes more than “willpower” – it requires long-term effort and most of all, real support. Since addiction is so complex, it’s important to reach out for meaningful help. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please contact us today to begin your journey to sobriety.