10 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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What we don’t know can often hurt us when it comes to prescriptions. The same goes for Lyrica, a potent painkiller and anti-anxiety drug previously thought to be non-addictive and completely safe for use. Abuse of Lyrica and other similar drugs often begins with a false sense of security around its safety that arises because of a limited understanding of its effects. Under this false pretense, millions of people kept using this medication, eventually developing an addiction.

Now classified as a schedule five drug, everyone knows its potential for abuse and addiction. Lyrica is particularly addictive as it interacts with the reward and motivational pathways in the brain to alter brain chemistry. With repeated and regular use, drug dependence forms which ultimately leads to addiction.

Knowing the risks that accompany Lyrica use, the common symptoms of addiction and the available treatment options to overcome this issue is critical to saving yourself from long-term deterioration.

Lyrica or pregabalin is a prescription painkiller used to manage chronic pain disorders, such as neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. It works by interrupting pain signals sent to the brain to offer pain relief. Additionally, the medication also helps in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and epilepsy. Lyrica became a more commonly prescribed drug amidst the global opioid epidemic as experts thought it to be a safer and less addictive painkiller. However, over time, the rate of Lyrica addiction has been rising across the world and even leading to mortalities and promoting suicidal behaviors. This has prompted healthcare professionals to raise awareness regarding recognizing Lyrica addiction in time and seeking treatment for it.

Following are some of the most common symptoms of Lyrica addiction:

  • Taking Lyrica regularly in ways that have not been prescribed by a doctor, such as using it without a prescription, in higher doses, or more frequently than needed
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that you previously used to enjoy
  • Developing signs of Lyrica tolerance, such as the need to take progressively increasing amounts of this drug to experience the same effects
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Showing hostility or irritability when not under Lyrica’s influence
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in personal hygiene routines, sleep patterns, or commitment to daily obligations like school or work

If you or someone you love is showing the possible signs of Lyrica addiction, it is important to seek help right away. A professional can guide you about how to best support yourself or your loved one in entering treatment.

While Lyrica addiction can hit anyone, some people are at a higher risk than others. These include:

People with legal prescriptions

A lot of people who are using Lyrica with a legal prescription, such as for anxiety, convulsions, epilepsy, and insomnia, may get hooked on it and start abusing it.


Lyrica addiction is particularly prevalent in prisoners who trade it for other commodities, like cigarettes. These individuals commonly use Lyrica to overcome their mental health issues or briefly reduce their stress levels.

People with a history of substance abuse

Research has shown that people with a past history of substance abuse are more likely to attain Lyrica addiction. For them, any substance with even the slightest euphoric properties can trigger addiction.

People with mental health issues

Lyrica or pregabalin helps treat anxiety and insomnia, two common issues that almost every person with a mental health disorder face. Such people are more likely: to abuse Lyrica for self-medication.

Lyrica withdrawal symptoms are incredibly uncomfortable and similar to those that occur during withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines. The severity of these symptoms and duration depends on the frequency and longevity of Lyrica use. If you have been consuming this medication in high doses for a long time, the withdrawal symptoms may persist for up to two weeks. In contrast, those who use it in lower doses may recover within a week.

Acute withdrawal symptoms of Lyrica addiction manifest within 24 hours following the last dose and persist for up to two days. On the other hand, the residual symptoms may continue to linger for several weeks; however, they are easier to manage. The onset of these withdrawal symptoms is due to the underlying tolerance that the body and brain develop to Lyrica. When someone suddenly quits using the medication, the body gets out of balance and responds by producing these painful symptoms. Some common Lyrica withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Agitation
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Strong cravings for Lyrica
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia

Every addiction rehab has its processes and procedures, and what is applicable for one may not apply to another. In general, an individual who enters rehab receives a full psychological and physical assessment, following which a formal addiction treatment program commences. The first step of this treatment program is detox, an indispensable aspect of addiction management that involves clearing the body of the substance of abuse. The aim of this process is to help individuals get rid of any dependence they are suffering from so that they can entirely focus on recovery.

During Lyrica detox, most people undergo withdrawal along with its uncomfortable symptoms. Detoxing at a professional rehab allows clients to manage these symptoms through suitable medications under expert supervision to make the overall experience more comfortable. At the same time, the detox experts may slowly taper them off of Lyrica to the point of complete abstinence.

Some of the most common medications that most experts use to make Lyrica withdrawal more comfortable include the following:


The purpose of using this medication is to regulate blood pressure changes commonly seen in Lyrica withdrawal.


This prescription medication works in people who are unresponsive to clonidine for blood pressure regulation.

Sleeping Aids

Insomnia is one of the most common withdrawal side effects of Lyrica. To manage it, doctors may prescribe detoxing individuals a non-habit-forming medication, like Trazodone.


Other miscellaneous drugs prescribed for Lyrica withdrawal include nausea medication, anti-convulsant drugs, and anti-depressants.

Following detoxification, most people enter formal treatment to overcome the psychological aspect of their Lyrica addiction. Such treatment may take place in any one or both of the following levels.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient programs typically continue for one to three months and include a holistic and conventional treatment plan that involves regular therapy, comprehensive fitness and diet plans, and more. This program requires clients to stay on-site in specified accommodations where they can recover peacefully and securely among other people with similar issues. The staff members are available for help and support round the clock and adopt a non-judgmental and compassionate approach to encourage healing. Once an inpatient treatment program concludes, many people transition into outpatient treatment, a lesser-intensive treatment program.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment also takes place on-site but differs from inpatient programs as it does not restrict the clients from leaving their homes and residing inside the rehab. These programs are less-intensive and more flexible to accommodate people with real-life obligations and duties, like childcare and hectic jobs. Keep in mind that outpatient treatment is only suitable for those with lesser severe forms of Lyrica addiction who are at minimal risk of a relapse.

After the completion of formal rehabilitation treatment, most treatment centers offer aftercare services for up to one year to maintain long-term sobriety and recovery.



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