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Lyrica and gabapentin are both prescription medications known as anticonvulsants that are used to treat nerve pain and seizures. Although these two drugs are similar, there are also some important differences. In this blog, we’ll review the uses of Lyrica and gabapentin, side effects of abuse, withdrawal effects, the risk for addiction, and more.

Lyrica vs. Gabapentin: What’s the Difference?

Lyrica and gabapentin are both anticonvulsants that may be used to treat nerve pain and seizures. Although both medications can be misused, one of the main differences between the two is that Lyrica is classified as a controlled substance. Lyrica is also absorbed more rapidly by the body than gabapentin and studies show Lyrica may be a more potent anticonvulsant drug.

Lyrica is a brand name for the drug pregabalin, which is a prescription drug that is used to treat pain, certain types of seizures, and nerve damage caused by shingles, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries.

Lyrica is structurally similar to the brain chemical known as GABA and although researchers aren’t exactly sure how it works, scientists believe that it decreases the number of nerve signals to calm overly-sensitive nerve cells. It is administered orally as a capsule or a clear, colorless solution and is usually taken two to three times a day, depending on your doctor’s recommendations.

Although Lyrica is not considered a highly addictive drug, the pain relief and feelings of mild relaxation that it produces can result in abuse, dependence, tolerance, and addiction. Some people may also take Lyrica with opioid drugs to enhance the effects of the opioid.

In most instances, people develop Lyrica addiction after taking it for a long period of time. They may also self-medicate to minimize the effects of opioid withdrawal, which can also lead to dependence and addiction.

Any drugs or drug combinations that depress the central nervous system can produce dangerous interactions and side effects when combined with Lyrica. You should never take Lyrica with the following drugs:

The DEA classifies Lyrica as a Schedule V drug, which means it has a lower potential for abuse than many other controlled substances, but it does pose a risk for misuse and dependence.2
lyrica pills

How Long Does Lyrica Stay in Your System?

Lyrica takes one to two days to completely clear out of your system.3 This can vary from person to person and certain factors may also affect the rate at which Lyrica is eliminated from your system, such as your metabolism, age, body mass/fat, dosage, hydration, and the method of administration.

Drug tests may be used to detect Lyrica misuse and the following chart contains approximate detection times for urine, blood, and hair follicle tests.

Approximate Drug Test Detection Times for Lyrica

Urine testDetectable for 5-6 days after the last dose
Blood testDetectable for 2 days after the last dose
Hair follicle testDetectable for up to 90 days after the last dose

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23318283

Signs and Symptoms of Lyrica Addiction

If someone is addicted to Lyrica, he or she may show some of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Consuming larger doses of Lyrica than prescribed by a doctor
  • Altering the medication in any way before consuming it
  • Demonstrating significant social changes
  • Refusing to stop abusing Lyrica or being unable to despite the physical, social, and financial consequences
  • Hiding Lyrica abuse from friends and family
  • Being obsessed with taking more Lyrica or getting more
  • Faking symptoms to get more Lyrica

Lyrica Withdrawal Symptoms

If you are addicted to Lyrica and you try to stop using it, you will likely experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as a result. Lyrica withdrawal symptoms usually include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors4

The duration of drug withdrawal will vary based on personal circumstances, medical issues, and co-occurring disorders, as well as how much Lyrica you used each time, how long you’ve been abusing it, and your method of abuse. If you abuse Lyrica with any other substances (also known as polydrug abuse), withdrawal symptoms may also last longer or be more severe.

Withdrawal from Lyrica can be dangerous if you try to detox on your own at home, especially if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Since at-home detox or quitting drugs cold turkey can be risky, a medical detox program is often the safest option.

After Lyrica detox, treatment specialists may recommend ongoing care in a rehab program and help you make the transition into the next stage of treatment. Ongoing addiction treatment after detox is essential for long-lasting sobriety, as well as for the prevention and/or treatment of post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which some people may experience.
gabapentin pills

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is sold under the brand names Gaborone, Gralise, Neurontin, and FusePaq Fanatrex. Like Lyrica, it is prescription drug and an anticonvulsant medication that works in the brain to prevent seizures and relieve certain types of pain. It is usually prescribed to treat pain caused by diabetes and shingles, certain types of seizures, and fibromyalgia.5

Gabapentin is available in several different forms, including tablet, capsule, solution, and suspension form. Depending on your medical condition and your doctor’s recommendation, the most effective and safe dosage of gabapentin will vary.

Gabapentin is not currently a controlled substance and there is little risk for addiction when it is taken as prescribed. However, it is commonly abused with other drugs like opioids, muscle relaxers, or anxiety medications because it can produce a high when combined with these substances.

In May of 2017, gabapentin was the fifth most prescribed drug in the U.S. and about one-fifth of people who abuse opiates also abuse gabapentin.6,7 Another study found that 27 percent of people abusing gabapentin were also taking it with muscle relaxers or anxiety medications and about 9 percent were taking it with illegal substances.8 Gabapentin is cheap and readily available so it is frequently abused by people across the U.S.

Street names or slang terms for gabapentin include:

  • Gabbies
  • Johnnies
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How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System?

Gabapentin will stay in your body for about one to two days after the last dose.9 Of course, like Lyrica, certain individual factors will affect this estimated timeframe, like age, body mass/fat, hydration, and any medical problems, among others.

Gabapentin misuse can be detected with several types of drug tests, although drug tests usually don’t test for the presence of gabapentin. The chart below provides approximate drug test detection times for gabapentin.

Approximate Drug Test Detection Times for Gabapentin

Urine testDetectable for up to 3 days after the last dose
Blood testDetectable for 5-7 hours after the last dose
Hair follicle testDetectable for up to 90 days after the last dose

Source:  https://www.testmenu.com/AlvernoLabs/TestDirectory/SiteFile?fileName=/uploadwizard/Drug%20Retention%20Times.pdf

Signs and Symptoms of Gabapentin Addiction

People who have a history of substance abuse and addiction are much more likely to abuse gabapentin.10 As a result, it’s important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of gabapentin addiction, which include:

  • Having cravings for gabapentin
  • Using gabapentin in any way other than prescribed
  • Faking symptoms to get gabapentin
  • Hiding gabapentin use from loved ones
  • Suffering physical, emotional, relational, and financial consequences due to gabapentin use
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing gabapentin use
  • Trying to stop using gabapentin but being unable to

Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms

There are few reports of gabapentin withdrawal, but it can certainly happen, especially if you’re addicted or have a history of substance abuse. If withdrawal does occur, common gabapentin withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Sweating
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia11

Similar to detox from Lyrica, gabapentin withdrawal can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable, depending on the duration and severity of withdrawal. Most withdrawal symptoms set in one to two days after the last dose and many people find that the only way to find relief is to continue using gabapentin.

Since quitting gabapentin can be difficult, a medical detox program may help you get sober safely and effectively. You should never attempt to taper off gabapentin on your own, rather, this should be completed under the direct supervision of a doctor for safety purposes. Additionally, if you experience any symptoms of psychosis or mental confusion while detoxing from gabapentin at home, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Lyrica Uses vs. Gabapentin Uses

Lyrica and gabapentin are used to treat a few of the same disorders and medical conditions, although Lyrica may also be used to treat several others.

Lyrica is used to treat:

  • Partial seizures
  • Diabetic neuropathic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pain after shingles12
Gabapentin is used to treat:

  • Pain after shingles
  • Partial seizures12

Lyrica vs. Gabapentin: Addiction and Dependence

Lyrica and gabapentin both have the potential for abuse, tolerance, dependence, and addiction, but Lyrica is classified by the DEA as a controlled substance and gabapentin is not. However, that’s not to say that gabapentin abuse isn’t risky. In fact, gabapentin abuse is increasing and several instances of addiction and withdrawal have been reported.

Lyrica vs. Gabapentin: Side Effects of Abuse

Side Effects of Lyrica AbuseSide Effects of Gabapentin Abuse
  • Fever
  • Heart palpitations
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Speech problems
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dizziness13
  • Fatigue
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Double vision
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Violent/aggressive behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of balance14

Get Lyrica Addiction Treatment or Gabapentin Addiction Treatment Today

Lyrica addiction and gabapentin addiction are medical diseases that can cause severe physical, emotional, and personal problems if left untreated. Fortunately, it’s possible to overcome these addictions with professional support.

If you or a loved one is abusing Lyrica or gabapentin and can’t stop, you should know that there is help available for you. You can recover and build a sober life for yourself. Call (888) 857-0557 today to speak with a member of the Briarwood admissions team. We can help you enroll in a drug detox program that is designed to address your specific treatment needs and overcome your addiction. Call today to get started.

 

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151139.php
  2. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
  3. https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/11/09/how-long-does-lyrica-stay-in-your-system-after-stopping/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284877/
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/gabapentin-oral-route/description/drg-20064011
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27265421
  7. https://www.statnews.com/2017/07/06/gabapentin-becomes-target-of-opioid-abuse/
  8. https://www.neurologyadvisor.com/topics/pain/illicit-use-of-gabapentin-on-the-rise/
  9. https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/11/07/how-long-does-gabapentin-stay-in-your-system/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26721643
  11. https://www.verywellmind.com/gabapentin-withdrawal-symptoms-timeline-and-treatment-4176217
  12. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/jeffrey-fudin/2015/09/how-gabapentin-differs-from-pregabalin
  13. https://family-intervention.com/blog/help-gabapentin-neurontin-pregabalin-lyrica-addiction-withdrawals/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5308580/
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