Is Pregabalin Addictive? Addiction, Overdose, and Abuse Risks

A closeup of a sample pack of Pregabalin - Step By Step Recovery

Updated March 2024

While pregabalin, also known by the brand name Lycra, is generally safe and effective, there is a risk of addiction. Pregabalin is a medication used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, anxiety, and other conditions. It works by binding to certain chemicals in the brain that are involved in transmitting pain signals.

Like other drugs that bind to this chemical, pregabalin can produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation. These pleasurable effects can lead to pregabalin abuse and addiction. While pregabalin addiction is not as common as some other types of addiction, it can still be a serious substance use disorder.

If you or someone you know is struggling with pregabalin abuse or addiction, seek help from a mental health professional or substance abuse treatment centre.


  1. What Is Pregabalin?
  2. The Popularity of Pregabalin
  3. Medical Uses of Pregabalin
  4. Side Effects of Pregabalin
  5. The Available Forms of Pregabalin
  6. Pregabalin and UK Law
  7. How is Pregabalin Addictive?
  8. Causes of Pregabalin Addiction
  9. What Drugs Do People Take with Pregabalin?
  10. How Long Does It Take To Become Addicted to Pregabalin?
  11. How Do I Know If I Am Addicted to Pregabalin?
  12. Signs That Someone Is Addicted to Pregabalin
  13. Withdrawal from Pregabalin
  14. Can I Overdose on Pregabalin?
  15. Can I Die from Overdosing on Pregabalin?
  16. Respiratory Depression and Pregabalin
  17. Can I Self Medicate with Pregabalin?
  18. How Long Does Pregabalin Remain in the Body?
  19. Statistics on Pregabalin Addiction
  20. Overcoming Pregabalin Addiction
  21. The Pregabalin Overdose Detox Process
  22. Get Help with Pregabalin Addiction

What Is Pregabalin?

Pregabalin is a medication typically used to treat partial-onset seizures and other conditions related to nerve pain. It is in a class of medicines called antiepileptics. Pregabalin works by binding to certain areas in the brain that are responsible for controlling seizures and pain signals.

Pregabalin is generally well-tolerated, but some people may experience side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, or weight gain. Pregabalin can also cause more severe side effects, such as vision problems, trouble breathing, or swelling of the hands, feet, or legs. You should call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects.

You may have heard about pregabalin a lot more recently. That’s because it used to be patented and very expensive. Now, the patent has expired, and there are generic versions available, so it’s much more affordable for the NHS. However, pregabalin is still a powerful drug and should be used with caution.

Prescribing pregabalin should always be done with careful consideration of the risks and benefits because addiction to prescription drugs is an ongoing concern. When used correctly, pregabalin can be an effective treatment for various conditions. However, it can also cause serious side effects, so it’s crucial to weigh up the risks and benefits before starting to use it.

The Popularity of Pregabalin

Despite pregabalin being a relatively new drug, its use has become widespread across the UK. Pregabalin is typically prescribed for anxiety and epilepsy but is increasingly being used as a recreational drug. Due to its sedative and euphoric effects, pregabalin has become popular among those seeking to escape from their day-to-day lives.

Pregabalin addiction is a real and growing problem. The drug can be highly addictive, and quitting can be extremely difficult. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. As pregabalin addiction continues to rise, more people must be made aware of the risks associated with the drug. Only by increasing public knowledge can we hope to reduce the number of people suffering from prescription drug addiction.

Medical Uses of Pregabalin

Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant and immunomodulatory agent used to treat partial onset seizures, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Its exact mechanism of action is unknown, but pregabalin is thought to bind to voltage-gated calcium channels in the brain and modulate neurotransmitter release.

Pregabalin also reduces seizure frequency and severity in patients with refractory partial-onset seizures. In clinical trials, pregabalin was found to be effective in treating GAD, with a reduction in Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) scores of greater than or equal to 50%. 

Although pregabalin has shown some efficacy in treating chronic low back pain and alcohol withdrawal, more clinical trials are needed to confirm its value. Pregabalin may interact with other drugs, and healthcare providers need to be aware of these interactions before prescribing pregabalin to patients. Therefore, pregabalin should be used with caution and only under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Side Effects of Pregabalin

A woman sat on a bed experiencing pregabalin withdrawal symptoms - Is Pregabalin Addictive? - Step by Step Recovery

While pregabalin is well tolerated by most people, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. The most common side effects reported with pregabalin use are dizziness, drowsiness, and swelling in the lower legs or hands.

Pregabalin can also cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, difficulty breathing and hives. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking pregabalin, you should seek medical attention immediately. While the risk of a severe reaction is relatively low, it is important to be aware of the potential for adverse reactions when prescribed pregabalin.

Pregabalin may also interact with other medications, such as benzodiazepines and opioids. As a result, it is essential to discuss pregabalin use with a healthcare provider before using it. With proper monitoring and management, pregabalin can be a safe and effective treatment option for those with partial onset seizures or generalised anxiety disorder.

The Available Forms of Pregabalin

Pregabalin is available in either a capsule or a tablet form. The reason you have been prescribed it will determine the dosage forms you receive and the amount. For example:

  • The recommended starting dose for treating anxiety is 75 mg two times a day, taken with or without food.
  • The recommended starting dose for treating seizures is 150 mg two times a day, taken with or without food.
  • For both anxiety and seizures, the dose may be increased to 300 mg two times a day after the first week based on tolerance and efficacy.

To help prevent pregabalin abuse, it’s vital to take it only as prescribed by your doctor. Do not increase your dose without talking to your doctor first, and do not take pregabalin more often or for a longer period than prescribed. Do not share pregabalin with others, and do not take pregabalin if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Pregabalin and UK Law

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is a UK law that controls the use of pregabalin and other drugs. The maximum sentence for unlawful possession (possession without a valid prescription) of pregabalin is two years imprisonment plus an unlimited fine. For supplying the drug, the penalty is up to 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Pregabalin was changed to a Schedule 3 Controlled Drug in April 2019, which means it has a high potential for abuse and dependence. A growing death toll due to anticonvulsants was the cause of the change. The main risks associated with pregabalin are drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, and slowed reaction times. Other risks include weight gain, dry mouth, constipation, and headaches.

If you are taking pregabalin, it is important to be aware of these risks and to report any adverse effects to your healthcare provider. 

How is Pregabalin Addictive?

Addiction to pregabalin often begins when people start using the drug for non-medical reasons. They may take pregabalin to experience a high, cope with stress or anxiety, or counteract the effects of other drugs. As they continue to use pregabalin, they develop a tolerance to the drug, meaning they need to take higher doses to achieve the same effects.

This can lead to pregabalin addiction, characterised by compulsive use despite negative consequences. People addicted to pregabalin may experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit, including anxiety, insomnia, and flu-like symptoms. They may also experience mental health problems such as depression and psychosis. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with pregabalin addiction, help is available. There are treatment programs that can address both pregabalin addiction and any underlying mental health issues. With treatment, it is possible to recover from pregabalin addiction and live a healthy, fulfilling life.

Causes of Pregabalin Addiction

Chronic pregabalin use alters the brain in ways that lead the user to keep taking the drug, often for longer than their doctor prescribes. This leads to abuse, as the drug distorts the brain’s reward centres. A physical dependence on pregabalin can also cause withdrawal symptoms when users try to quit. These symptoms can include dizziness, headache, nausea, and insomnia. As a result, pregabalin addiction can be difficult to overcome without professional help.

While the exact cause of pregabalin addiction is unknown, many factors can contribute to its development. For some people, pregabalin use may lead to dependency, and missed doses can cause withdrawal symptoms. Other medicines may also interact with pregabalin and increase the risk of addiction.

Patients receiving pregabalin should be closely monitored for signs of abuse or dependency. Recognising the early signs of addiction can help prevent further misuse and ensure that patients receive the treatment they need.

Some key areas that doctors must look out for when prescribing pregabalin are similar to those that must be considered when prescribing any other potentially addictive medication. These include:

  • Family history of addiction and substance abuse
  • Previous mental health issues or a family history of them
  • History of substance abuse
  • Spending time with peers who abuse substances
  • A history of childhood abuse
  • Current trauma, stress, or any kind of difficult life challenge
  • A history of withdrawing from social occasions — social isolation
  • Ongoing risky behaviour.

What Drugs Do People Take with Pregabalin?

People who abuse pregabalin often take it with other drugs with similar properties, such as opioids and benzodiazepines. This can be extremely dangerous, as it increases the risk of overdose and other serious side effects. Alcohol and pregabalin are often used together, amplifying the effects of both substances and putting the person at risk for blackouts, accidents, and other harmful consequences. 

How Long Does It Take To Become Addicted to Pregabalin?

While pregabalin is generally considered safe, there is a risk of becoming addicted to the medication. The exact amount of time it takes to develop an addiction to pregabalin varies from person to person, but in most cases, pregabalin addiction develops after a period of regular use.

The key factor is how much pregabalin is taken daily. If the dosage is increased over time, or if pregabalin is taken more frequently than prescribed, addiction is more likely to occur. In addition, people who have a personal or family history of addiction are at greater risk of becoming addicted to pregabalin.

If you or someone you know is using pregabalin, it is vital to be aware of the risks associated with the medication. If you have any concerns about pregabalin addiction, talk to a doctor or other healthcare professional.

How Do I Know If I Am Addicted to Pregabalin?

If you’re using pregabalin and are concerned that you may be addicted, there are a few signs to look out for. First, check to see if pregabalin is interfering with your life in any way. Are you having trouble meeting your responsibilities at home or at work? Have you been neglecting your hobbies or social life?

If pregabalin use prevents you from living your life the way you want, it may be an addiction. Additionally, pay attention to your pregabalin use itself. Are you using more pregabalin than prescribed? Are you taking it more often than recommended? Have you been unable to reduce or stop your pregabalin use even if you’ve tried? If so, these may be signs of pregabalin addiction. Other signs of pregabalin addiction include:

  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from pregabalin use
  • Focusing more and more time and energy on pregabalin use.

If you’re addicted to pregabalin, you may not want to admit it. But it’s important to get help if you’re addicted to this medication. Pregabalin addiction can lead to serious health problems, including overdose and death. Addiction is a serious condition that can have lasting effects on your health and well-being, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re worried that you may be addicted.

Signs That Someone Is Addicted to Pregabalin

Addiction is a serious issue that can profoundly impact every aspect of a person’s life. When someone is addicted to pregabalin, it can be difficult to spot the signs. Many addicts will go to great lengths to hide their pregabalin use, but some telltale signs may indicate a problem:

  • They are going to multiple doctors or to the black market to get more pregabalin than was prescribed
  • Their appearance and hygiene are being neglected
  • Work/school performance has declined
  • They begin neglecting their responsibilities
  • They start to lose interest in the things they used to enjoy
  • Money that should be spent on necessities is being spent on pregabalin
  • Regular instances of short-term memory loss
  • Severe mood swings when they no longer have access to pregabalin
  • Criminal activity.

Other signs that someone may have developed an addiction to pregabalin include regular mood swings, poor sleep patterns, weight gain, drowsiness, and slurred speech.

Withdrawal from Pregabalin

Withdrawal from pregabalin addiction can be difficult, and it is important to be under the care of a medical professional when discontinuing the use of the drug. Pregabalin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

In severe cases, withdrawal can lead to seizures. Therefore, it is critical to slowly taper off pregabalin under the care of a professional to avoid any potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Symtoms of withdrawal from pregabalin do not usually last as long as with other drugs, and most of the main physical symptoms subside after a few days. However, some users may develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is a condition characterised by ongoing anxiety, insomnia, and other symptoms that can last for weeks or months after discontinuing pregabalin use.

Can I Overdose on Pregabalin?

Although Pregabalin, or Lyrica, is often prescribed as an alternative to highly addictive opioids, it doesn’t mean that you can’t overdose on this either. The maximum dosage for Lyrica is 600 milligrams per day, and if you exceed that amount, you may experience symptoms of overdose — both mental and physical. Here are the signs you’re going through a pregabalin overdose:

  • Tremors, mild or severe
  • General feelings of fatigue, drowsiness and sleepiness
  • Mood swings or temperamental behaviour
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Sweating and a feeling of being hot
  • Heart palpitations and irregular blood pressure
  • Troubles breathing or discomfort due to your heart rate
  • Confusion or entering states of delirium
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Feelings of agitation.

Can I Die from Overdosing on Pregabalin?

As is the case with any drug or medication, there is always the risk of overdosing, reacting poorly to the medication, or even dying. So, yes, it is possible to die from overdosing on pregabalin. 

Pregabalin poisoning is the leading cause of death from taking the drug. Although a rare occurrence, the risk of poisoning increases dramatically when you take the drug recreationally frequently, as your tolerance for it increases and you seek to enhance your experience. If you take Pregabalin with alcohol, other drugs like antidepressants, or other substances, your risk of death increases.

Respiratory Depression and Pregabalin

Another severe and potentially life-altering side effect of taking types of opioids like codeine and Pregabalin is respiratory depression. Respiratory depression is a serious condition that occurs when the lungs fail to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen properly, potentially leading to severe shortness of breath, which can be life-threatening if not addressed by medical professionals.

Can I Self Medicate with Pregabalin?

Pregabalin is a medication that is typically only prescribed by a medical professional. It is important to only take pregabalin only as prescribed because it can be addictive. If you self-medicate with pregabalin, you may develop an addiction to the medication. This can lead to serious health problems, including liver damage and respiratory failure.

How Long Does Pregabalin Remain in the Body?

The half-life of pregabalin is 6-8 hours, which means it takes about two days for the drug to be largely eliminated from the body. However, pregabalin can remain in the body for up to two weeks after discontinuation. This is because pregabalin is stored in the fatty tissues of the body, and it is slowly released back into the bloodstream over time. As a result, people who stop taking pregabalin may experience withdrawal symptoms for up to two weeks.

Pregabalin may stay in the system for longer in people with impaired kidneys or liver function. For people who have been taking pregabalin for an extended time, it may take longer for the drug to completely leave the body. 

Statistics on Pregabalin Addiction

Let’s look at some of the most important statistics about pregabalin addiction, but remember that this is a relatively new drug and more research needs to be carried out. However, some initial statistics are worth being aware of:

30% of Users Experience Dizziness 

As anyone who has ever taken pregabalin can attest, dizziness is a common side effect of the drug. Over 30% of patients who take pregabalin report feeling dizzy at some point. While the exact mechanism by which pregabalin causes dizziness is not fully understood, it is thought to be related to the drug’s effects on the central nervous system. 

For most people, the dizziness is mild and goes away after a few days of taking pregabalin. However, for some people, the dizziness can be severe and may last for weeks or even months. If you are taking pregabalin and experience persistent or severe dizziness, you should talk to your doctor about other treatment options.

Usual Dosage

The recommended starting dose of pregabalin for treating partial onset seizures in adults is 75 mg two times a day or 50 mg three times a day (150 mg/day). The effective dose range of pregabalin for treating partial-onset seizures is 300 to 600 mg/day. The recommended starting dose of pregabalin for GAD in adults is 150 mg/day, given as two or three divided doses.

A maintenance dose of 300 mg/day (given as two or three divided doses) is effective. The maximum recommended dose of pregabalin for treating GAD in adults is 600 mg/day, given in divided doses. Doses above 600 mg/day have not been studied and are not recommended. Some addicts have reportedly been taking up to 20 times the recommended dose. 

Pregabalin and Pregnancy

Although pregabalin has been considered relatively safe, a new study on the use of pregabalin during pregnancy has suggested that it may increase the risk of major congenital malformations. The study, which included over 2,700 pregnancies exposed to pregabalin, found that pregabalin use in the first trimester was associated with a slight increase in the risk of major congenital malformations compared with exposure to no antiepileptic drugs.

While the absolute risk is small, it is important for pregnant women and their doctors to weigh the risks and benefits of pregabalin before deciding on its use during pregnancy.

Pregabalin Withdrawal Facts

It is estimated that just over 4% of people taking pregabalin will suffer from withdrawal symptoms once they stop taking the medication, even if they aren’t using it in an abusive way. The most common withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, and nausea.

However, more severe symptoms have also been reported, such as seizures. Because of this, it is crucial to be slowly weaned off pregabalin rather than stopping abruptly. If you are considering taking pregabalin or are currently taking it, make sure to speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits.

Overcoming Pregabalin Addiction

If you find yourself using pregabalin more often than prescribed or for reasons other than its intended purpose, you may be struggling with an addiction. Pregabalin is a powerful drug that can cause physical and psychological dependence. Trying to overcome an addiction to pregabalin without professional help is often unsuccessful and can even be dangerous.

Pregabalin addiction treatment typically begins with detoxification, which helps the person withdraw from the drug safely. After detox, the person will likely need to participate in a rehabilitation program that includes counselling, group therapy, and other evidence-based treatments. With the right help, it is possible to overcome pregabalin addiction and build a drug-free life.

The Pregabalin Overdose Detox Process

Every clinic and rehab centre has its own detox process to help individuals in need. Most clinics employ a personalised plan for all patients, after careful communication, to understand exactly how to help them. This includes a full physical and psychological addiction assessment.

The length of the detox varies from person to person, with some experiencing long-term withdrawal symptoms and others seeing a full recovery in a few weeks. Additionally, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms felt during the detox process is unique to each individual. 

It is common to feel extreme and acute discomfort during the detox process. However, it’s necessary to put your body through this process for long-term success. Short-term discomfort is a much more preferable option than a life filled with dependence on Pregabalin or other similar opioids. 

You may seek to join support groups or counselling sessions outside of the rehab after your admission period ends. An addiction specialist may provide you with these resources during your admission, but continuing this support system is crucial to ensuring you remain free of any addictions.

Get Help with Pregabalin Addiction

Treatment for pregabalin addiction typically begins with detoxification, followed by counselling and support groups. If you are struggling with pregabalin addiction, please seek help from a qualified healthcare provider today. 

Step by Step Recovery offers free advice on supporting and treating addiction. We exist to help individuals beat pregabalin addiction permanently, providing support to the people we treat and their friends and family. 

Complete our online assessment form or call our understanding team on 0800 170 1222 for free, confidential advice to help you or a loved one.

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