Pregabalin: What is it and why can it be dangerous?

image source, Getty Images

The prescription drug pregabalin has been linked to a number of deaths in the UK and around the world.

Many users buy the drug illegally on the black market, often from unregulated websites.

What is pregabalin and what is it used for?

It comes in tablets, capsules, or liquid form, and may be called Alzain, Axalid, or Lyrica, depending on the brand.

Prescription rates are showing signs of leveling off across the UK, but doctors say it can be a very useful treatment for patients when taken correctly and should remain available.

What are the side effects of pregabalin?

Some call pregabalin the new Valium or “Bud” (as in Budweiser beer) because it can make users feel relaxed, similar to tranquilizers or alcohol.

Taking too much, especially when combined with other street drugs that also have a sedative effect, can cause drowsiness and breathing problems.

Patients prescribed pregabalin are advised to avoid alcohol.

How many deaths have been linked to pregabalin in the UK?

In many cases, the drugs had not been prescribed.

Together, opiates and pregabalin slow breathing. An emergency antidote called naloxone that works against opiates does nothing to counteract the effects of pregabalin.

image source, Getty
Image Caption,

Taking pregabalin with opioids, such as heroin, can be especially dangerous

There has also been a significant death toll in Northern Ireland.

That compares with one death in 2013, nine in 2016, which rose to 77 in 2019 before falling back.

Can you become addicted to pregabalin?

The sedating effect of pregabalin – sometimes described as “gentle” – may mean that some users underestimate the addictive nature of the drug over time.

Dependence on pregabalin is especially dangerous for those with a history of drug abuse or addiction.

How can you get out and is withdrawal a problem?

Some people find it hard to stop taking pregabalin.

Withdrawal symptoms can include mood swings such as anger and irritability, anxiety and panic, as well as physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea and chills.

Anyone trying to get off the drug should seek health advice first.

You should not stop taking pregabalin suddenly unless your doctor advises you to do so. The dose is usually tapered over a week or more.

Is over the counter pregabalin illegal?

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 divides drugs into three categories, Class A, B and C, according to the harm they cause when misused.

Pregabalin became a class C drug in 2019. This means that it is illegal to have pregabalin without a valid prescription or supply it to others.

Image Caption,

Pregabalin seizures in Northern Ireland to rise by more than 34% between 2022 and 2023

Statistics from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) show that pregabalin is the fourth most commonly seized drug behind cannabis, cocaine and benzodiazepines.

Between July 2021 and June 2022, officers seized pregabalin on 804 occasions.

In the following twelve months, this number increased to 1,081, an increase of more than 34%.

How is pregabalin used in other countries?

Since it was introduced in the US and UK in 1993, pregabalin has spread throughout the world.

A study published in the medical journal Nature Communications estimates that the number of doses of pregabalin and gabapentin taken daily worldwide more than quadrupled between 2008 and 2018.

There has also been an overall increase in pregabalin abuse and deaths.

Large quantities of illegally traded pregabalin have been seized in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

If you have been affected by addiction, help and support is available at BBC action line.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can also call the 24-hour helpline life lineon 0808 808 8000.

#Pregabalin #dangerous
Image Source : www.bbc.co.uk

Leave a Comment