Lyrica is a prescription medication that is typically used to treat nerve pain, but it has also been applied to help with opiate withdrawal. There has been some uncertainty as to whether or not pregabalin (Lyrica) is effective for this, but many individuals have claimed to find relief through its use.
For example, a study published in 2018 by the trade journal Addictive Disorders and Their Treatments involved a four-week study with 50 participants. Researchers found that pregabalin was not significantly more effective than placebos for opiate withdrawal treatment.
There have, however, been many reported individual cases where Lyrica and other similar drugs have substantially helped with withdrawal symptoms.
The opiate crisis is a problem that has intensified in recent years. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the misuse of prescription opiates affects over 2 million Americans every year and over 15 million people around the world.
Most experts feel that opiate abuse is still on the rise. In 2016, over 20,000 deaths were caused by prescription opiate overdose in the United States alone.
Drug overdose has become the leading cause of death in America for adults under the age of 50. Opiates accounted for over 50 percent of these overdoses.
Opiates work by targeting the nervous system to produce feelings of pleasure and pain reduction. Because opiates produce a euphoric feeling, they quickly become a target for abuse.
Extended opiate use changes the chemistry of the brain, which begins to build up a drug tolerance. This tolerance means that a user needs more and more of the drug over time to feel the same effects as before. This tolerance makes an overdose more likely, as it becomes harder for the user to know what a proper dosage is.
Opiates are also commonly mixed with other drugs and/or alcohol, further increasing the likelihood of overdose.
According to Healthline, opiates work by attaching themselves to receptors present in the brain, intestinal tract, and spinal cord. They are also produced by the brain naturally to decrease pain and regulate the brain.
That is why extended use of opiates can alter brain chemistry and cause dependence, resulting in withdrawal when the drug is no longer being taken.
Prolonged opiate use can alter the way nerve receptors work in the brain, and these receptors will develop a reliance on the extra opiates being introduced into the system over long periods of time. If you feel physically ill shortly after you stop taking a prescription painkiller, it is likely that your body has developed a physical dependence on it.
The symptoms of opiate withdrawal can range from mild to severe, depending on the level of dependence. Some symptoms may present about 24 hours after last use of an opiate if a physical dependence is present.
Later symptoms of withdrawal are more serious:
Most of the worst symptoms clear up after 72 hours, but many people relapse before that point due to the discomfort. Medical detox, where opiate withdrawal is supported with medications and therapy, results in much fewer instances of relapse.
Generally, it is not recommended to stop taking opiates suddenly, or cold turkey. Consult with a medical professional. You may be prescribed a replacement medication, like buprenorphine or Suboxone, or withdrawal symptoms may be treated on an as-needed basis.
Cold-turkey detox attempts are highly likely to lead to relapse without professional medical help.
While opiate withdrawal is difficult to deal with, many treatments have been developed to ease the symptoms.
A clinical trial that started in 2014 tested the efficacy of several different drugs for this matter, including pregabalin (Lyrica).
While Lyrica is primarily used as a treatment for seizures and nerve pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and neuropathy, it has been used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms on an off-label basis. Some individuals found that the severe symptoms of opiate withdrawal, such as insomnia, anxiety, nausea, and hyperalgesia (heightened sensitivity to pain), could be dramatically reduced with the help of Lyrica.
Seizures are another possibility when it comes to opiate withdrawal, which makes Lyrica a seemingly ideal treatment to prevent them.
There are many different opiates out there, each with some unique properties that could lessen or increase the efficacy of Lyrica. These include:
There is not a lot of information currently that can say with certainty which opiates may respond better or worse to Lyrica. Individual cases should be examined to see what route is most effective for managing withdrawal symptoms.
If you have developed a dependency on opiates, it is important to speak to a medical professional about managing and dealing with the withdrawal and detox phase, as it can be hazardous to your health to go through this process alone.
You should not attempt to use Lyrica to treat opiate withdrawal on your own. Medical supervision is needed.
There are many other ways to manage opiate withdrawal symptoms besides Lyrica. The World Health Organization has laid out clinical guidelines for the management of opiate withdrawal.
Mild withdrawal symptoms may be lessened by taking vitamin B and C supplements. Drink lots of fluid to replace any fluid lost due to excessive sweating, a common symptom of withdrawal.
For moderate and severe opiate withdrawal symptoms, a tapering technique is usually employed using a particular medication. As mentioned, Suboxone is often used.
Since withdrawal symptoms and cravings are controlled, the person can focus on therapy. Once the individual is stable in recovery, the supervising physician may slowly wean them off the medication.
Clonidine, an adrenergic agonist, is sometimes used to combat withdrawal symptoms. It may help to lessen certain symptoms.
It is important to consider all the options available to you if you believe you have developed an opiate dependence and need help with withdrawal symptoms. The best course of action is to reach out to a professional and do your own research, working together to find the best route for your detox journey.
(June 2018) Gabapentin, Pregabalin, and Placebo in Reducing Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms in Opioid-dependent Individuals: A Randomized-controlled Trial. Addictive Disorders and Their Treatments. Retrieved February 2019 from https://journals.lww.com/addictiondisorders/Abstract/2018/06000/Gabapentin,_Pregabalin,_and_Placebo_in_Reducing.1.aspx
(November 2017) Opioid Addiction. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved February 2019 from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/opioid-addiction#statistics
(January 2014) Pregabalin for Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved February 2019 from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03017430
(2009) Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. World Health Organization. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310654/