Pregabalin Addiction

Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant used to treat seizures and is also commonly prescribed for pain caused by diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and spinal cord injury. 

What Is Pregabalin?

It is widely known by the brand name Lyrica and comes in three forms: a capsule, a liquid solution, and an extended-release tablet.

What Is Pregabalin Addiction?

If you take pregabalin, you need to be aware of the possibility of pregabalin addiction. It can happen to anyone, especially if you have been taking it for an extended period. The highest risk of pregabalin addiction comes when it is taken regularly for recreational purposes. Addiction refers to physical or psychological dependence on any substance and a desire to use it that you cannot control. 

Although addiction is primarily associated with people who obtain and use illicit drugs, a rising number of individuals are using prescription drugs to get “high”. Pregabalin addiction can also occur even if it is prescribed and you take it as directed by your doctor. The problem is that taking any kind of substance for a prolonged period increases the likelihood of developing tolerance and physical dependence. 

People taking pregabalin as prescribed may find that even after a short period of not taking this medication, they begin to experience discomfort brought on by withdrawal. Pregabalin addiction commonly develops in an attempt to relieve these unpleasant symptoms. In addition to legal use, pregabalin is a popular prescription drug that is abused due to its effects which are said to mimic those of diazepam. It is known to produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and calmness while also enhancing the effects of other drugs, like heroin and other opioids.

If you are concerned about pregabalin addiction, contact us on 0800 170 1222 for non-judgemental and confidential advice.

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Symptoms of Pregabalin Addiction

Like many other drugs, long-term use of pregabalin can lead to the manifestation of various physical and psychological symptoms. If you take pregabalin and are concerned about the effects of this drug, it is helpful to familiarise yourself with the possible signs of pregabalin addiction. 

While you may not be aware of the impact of your pregabalin use, those around you can often identify tell-tale signs that indicate something is wrong. Understanding why they are worried about you may make it easier for you to recognise your pregabalin addiction and seek treatment. 

One of the most prevalent signs of addiction is dishonesty and denial. If you find yourself going to great lengths to conceal your use of pregabalin, then it is highly likely you are struggling with addiction. Lying almost becomes a necessity where pregabalin abuse and addiction are concerned. In addition to these behavioural signs, other symptoms of pregabalin addiction you should be aware of include: 

  • Inability to stop taking pregabalin despite the consequences 
  • Obsessing over finding more pregabalin 
  • Preferring to be alone
  • Impulsive thoughts leading to risky behaviour 
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Hostility
  • Lying about medical symptoms to get more pregabalin 
  • Financial difficulty 
  • Stealing money to fund your addiction. 

If you feel that your mental and physical health is deteriorating and you take pregabalin on prescription, you should speak to your doctor. They will be able to decide if you might have developed a pregabalin addiction and if it is appropriate to slowly reduce your dose to see if your symptoms improve. 

Physical symptoms of pregabalin addiction may occur later on, but the most noticeable ones include:

  • Fever
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Impaired memory and judgement. 

In addition to the more common psychological and physical side effects of pregabalin addiction, you should be aware that abuse of pregabalin can lead to physical issues that could cause long-term damage if not treated: 

  • Muscle pain, weakness or tenderness
  • Fever
  • Vision problems
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Swelling in hands or feet
  • Rapid weight gain.

You may quickly develop a pregabalin addiction when you have been taking it recreationally and abusing it for its effects. As part of your addiction treatment, you may require a supervised detox to eliminate the build-up of toxins from your system.

Pregabalin Withdrawal Symptoms

A common misconception surrounding withdrawal symptoms is that they can only occur as a result of illicit drug abuse. This is not the case. If you take a prescription drug for an extended period, you risk developing dependence and experiencing withdrawal symptoms once you stop. Taking a prescription drug for recreational purposes is also likely to cause withdrawal symptoms

The symptoms of pregabalin withdrawal may vary depending on several factors, such as age, gender, weight, and overall health. The side effects of pregabalin leaving your system can range from mild to severe and affect you both mentally and physically. Acute withdrawal symptoms caused by pregabalin addiction typically start around 24 hours after your last dose and continue for at least two days. 

Some of the most common physical pregabalin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures.

Some of the most common psychological pregabalin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Cravings for the medication.

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Side Effects of Taking Pregabalin

Pregabalin, like any other anticonvulsant medication, comes with a range of potential side effects that may occur when the drug is in your system. These are known side effects of pregabalin that can happen whether you take it as prescribed or abuse the drug. However, pregabalin abuse increases the risk of experiencing these side effects, especially when high doses are taken in one go. 

Some of the most commonly reported adverse reactions to pregabalin include: 

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Loss of memory 
  • Impaired judgement 
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Swelling in any part of your body (oedema)
  • Breast swelling
  • Tremors
  • Blurred vision.

While some of these symptoms on their own might not be enough to alarm you, they could lead to far more serious consequences if you experience them while driving or operating other heavy machinery that could endanger the lives of others as well as your own. 

It is important to speak with a doctor or medical professional if you experience any side effects when taking pregabalin. You can also get advice from the below groups:

What to Do If You Overdose on Pregabalin

If you have taken too much pregabalin and think you may be experiencing an overdose, you should dial 999 as soon as possible. Tell the switchboard that you need an ambulance, and they will transfer you to the ambulance operator. Try and stay calm as you’re speaking to the operator as they will need to take some vital information from you. 

Advise the operator that you have taken pregabalin and any other substances, and tell them if you have been drinking alcohol. Administering the correct emergency treatment will depend on the drugs in your system. Try to describe your symptoms as accurately as possible to help paramedics understand what type of treatment you may require. 

The symptoms of a pregabalin overdose may not always be obvious, so any physical or mental health change should never be ignored. Pregabalin overdose can lead to coma and death without treatment. If you notice concerning symptoms in someone you care about, it is critical to seek medical help immediately.

Pregabalin and Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Taking pregabalin with alcohol doubles your risk of abusing both substances long-term. While pregabalin’s appeal is the feelings of calmness and relaxation it produces, mixing it with alcohol can bring about intense euphoria and heightened intoxication, resulting in alcohol and pregabalin addiction. 

Using pregabalin with alcohol can lead to respiratory failure, coma, or death. If you experience any of the below effects when mixing alcohol and pregabalin, seek medical assistance immediately and call 999.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and, or throat.

Treatment for Pregabalin Addiction

If you have an addiction to any substance, whether legal or illicit, you will usually require a medical detox combined with intensive psychological therapy. Detox is needed to ensure the body is flushed of all toxins that have built up since you began using pregabalin. The length of detox will differ from person to person; however, it typically takes around seven days. 

Following your detox, therapy is recommended to tackle the psychological aspects of addiction and address any underlying issues that could have contributed to pregabalin addiction. Some popular pregabalin addiction treatment therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), group therapy, one-to-one counselling, meditation, mindfulness, and music therapy. 

Residential rehab is widely considered the safest and most effective pregabalin addiction treatment. During residential rehab, you will receive a medically assisted detox, during which medication can be prescribed if you are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. You will then have access to a structured therapy plan and the opportunity to develop new interests and participate in supervised activities, such as beach walks. 

If you can not afford private rehab, the NHS provides various addiction treatment options. You can either speak to your doctor about accessing pregabalin addiction treatment or contact your NHS local addiction service directly. 

At Step by Step Recovery, we offer free advice on treating alcohol, drug and pregabalin addiction. We exist to provide non-judgemental support to help individuals beat addiction permanently. Please complete our online assessment form or call our understanding team on 0800 170 1222 for free, confidential advice about addiction treatment in London or at our residential rehab in Essex, to help you or a loved one.


Pregabalin is a controlled substance not available to buy over the counter and can only be legally obtained through a prescription from a doctor. However, like many prescription medications, pregabalin is often sold illegally online or by street dealers. Because it is a schedule 3 controlled substance, you can be prosecuted for having it without a prescription. It is also illegal to sell, and what may be sold as pregabalin online could be any substance as there is no way to control what is being made.

While the withdrawal symptoms of pregabalin are not dangerous, they can be hellish as they usually exacerbate some of the symptoms they are used to treat. If pregabalin has been abused long-term, it increases the risks of suffering from suicidal thoughts and tendencies once stopped. This is why it is critical to seek medical help if you want to stop taking pregabalin. Under the supervision of a doctor, you will be provided with support and medication, if appropriate, to make pregabalin withdrawal more bearable and help to prevent relapse.

Side effects when on pregabalin are generally mild to moderate. The two most common side effects of pregabalin are dizziness and sleepiness. However, side effects can indicate something more serious, and if you or someone else have any signs of difficulty breathing or swelling of the throat, mouth, or tongue, you should call 999. 

Recreational use and taking high doses in short periods of time increase the risk of pregabalin addiction. But anyone taking pregabalin for long periods is exposed to the risk of addiction, whether they take it as part of a prescription or have obtained it illegally.

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Page revised in March 2023, by Danielle Byatt, a Level 4 addictions counselling, Level 5 in Leadership & Management, BA applied social work. and Treatment Director at Step by Step Recovery.

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