Lyrica is a drug increasingly prescribed to treat a variety of conditions. So what are the Lyrica side effects and what else should people know before using this drug? Is Lyrica a potential drug of abuse and can addiction form?
What Is Lyrica and What are the Lyrica Side Effects?
Lyrica is a brand-name, prescription drug. The generic, active ingredient in Lyrica is called pregabalin. Pregabalin is classified as an anticonvulsant drug. Anticonvulsants are also called antiseizure drugs. When someone takes Lyrica, it slows the brain impulses thought to be linked to seizure activities. Lyrica can also affect chemicals that play a role in the transmission of pain signals. Specific conditions Lyrica is approved to treat in the U.S. include:
- Diabetic neuropathy pain
- Post-herpetic neuralgia, which is pain occurring after shingles
In Europe, Lyrica is also approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, but this is not the case in the U.S.
The Lyrica dosage someone is prescribed to take can play a role in the side effects that occur. The higher the dosage, the more likely profound side effects are to occur. Lyrica capsule dosages range from 25 mg up to 300 mg of pregabalin.
The recommended maximum dosage of Lyric is 100 mg taken three times a day for a combined total of 300 mg. If someone has reduced renal function, their doctor will advise much lower doses in many cases.
For postherpetic neuralgia, the recommended dose of Lyrica is often anywhere from 75 to 150 mg taken twice a day or 50 to 100 mg taken three times a day.
For the treatment of partial onset seizures, higher doses may be prescribed. For example, taking anywhere from 150 to 600 mg may be prescribed to patients with seizure disorders.
To manage symptoms of fibrymalgia, the recommend Lyrica dosage can range from 300 to 450 mg a day. The doses may start at a maximum of 150 mg a day and go up from there.
Common Lyrica Side Effects
Some of the most common Lyrica side effects include:
- Vision problems
- Muscle problems including lack of coordination, tremors and changes in muscle movement
- Problems with memory
- Dry mouth
- Reduced sex drive
- Weight gain
- Erectile dysfunction
Rare but still possible side effects of Lyrica are:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle cramps
- Urinary problems
- Kidney stones
Very rare side effects of Lyrica may include:
- Low neutrophil levels
- Changes in blood pressure
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Problems swallowing
- Reduced urine production
- Heart block
- Trouble swallowing
Anyone with certain conditions is advised to speak with their doctor before taking Lyrica. These conditions include congestive heart failure, diabetes, and kidney disease. People with a history of mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction should also talk to their doctor about their medical history before taking Lyrica.
Lyrica Interactions with Other Drugs
Lyrica interactions can occur with other drugs and substances. Specifically, any drug that affects and slows the central nervous system can have an interaction with Lyrica.
Central nervous system depressants include:
Lyrica Side Effects and Mental Health
Some of the most serious potential side effects of Lyrica are related to mental health. For example around 1 in 500 people who use Lyrica may have suicidal thoughts or behaviors. If someone is experiencing other mental health-related symptoms like anxiety, depression, irritability or agitation they should contact their health care provider immediately. Other mental health effects of Lyrica requiring immediate medical attention include:
- New or worsening depression
- New or worsening anxiety
- New or worsening irritability
- Violent behavior
- Panic attacks
- Increased talkativeness or symptoms of mania
- Attempted suicide
- Acting on dangerous impulses
There is a potential that abuse can be a side effect of Lyrica as well. For example, one article published in the Emergency Medicine Journal shows the possibility for Lyrica to be used recreationally. When people abuse high doses of Lyrica, they’re more likely to experience adverse side effects, and there’s also the potential for overdoses to occur.
There are reports of people using amounts of up to 3,000 mg a day in an effort to get high from Lyrica while the recommended maximum dose is only 600 mg.
Lyrica and Opioids
Lyrica is an anticonvulsant drug—it’s not an opioid. Opioids are also called narcotics. However, a growing trend is the combined abuse of Lyrica and opioid pain medications.
Reports are showing that as the number of prescription for drugs like Lyrica is going up, so is the occurrence of these drugs being involved in fatal overdoses.
The same is true of the drug gabapentin.
While Lyrica and gabapentin are difficult to get high on individually, some people addicted to opioids will combine these drugs with opioids to increase the effects. Since Lyrica, gabapentin, and opioids all slow the central nervous system, when they’re used together, the risk of a fatal overdose goes up significantly.
The increased prescribing rates for Lyrica and the fact that it’s generally easy to get have raised red flags, particularly as part of the opioid epidemic.
Pregabalin, the active ingredient in Lyrica, is a Schedule V controlled substance which means the DEA considers it to have low abuse potential, although this may change in the future. Currently, both pregabalin and gabapentin are also recommended by the CDC as opioid alternatives, however again this could change.
Symptoms of a Lyrica Overdose
If someone were to overdose on Lyrica, whether on its own or in conjunction with another central nervous system depressants, side effects could be severe or deadly.
Some of the signs of a Lyrica overdose can include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Lack of coordination
- Involuntary twitching and movement of the muscles
- Speech disturbances
- Blurred vision
- Breakdown of muscle fibers leading to kidney damage
Symptoms and Side Effects of Lyrica Withdrawal
Something else to consider when discussing the side effects of Lyrica and in particular, Lyrica side effects in the long-term, is physical dependence. Lyrica isn’t as chemically addictive as other substances like opioids, but physical dependence can form.
Possible Lyrica side effects related to withdrawal can include:
- Anger and irritation
- Spikes in anxiety
- Rebound pain and body aches
- Flu-like symptoms
- Joint pain
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thinking
The withdrawal timeline for Lyrica can vary depending on the dose someone regularly used and how long they used Lyrica, as well as individual factors.
Due to the potential for serious Lyrica side effects, it’s important to discuss these all with your healthcare provider before using this medication. Of course, it has benefits for many people, but no medication is without risk.
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Ezebuiro, Adaeze. “The Effects of Lyrica Overdose.” Livestrong. Accessed April 27, 2019.
Crosta, Peter. “What You Need to Know About Lyrica (pregabalin).” Medical News Today. January 5, 2018. Accessed April 27, 2019.
Frothingham, Scott. “Is Lyrica a Narcotic?” Healthline. April 16, 2018. Accessed April 27, 2019.
Anson, Pat. “Lyrica and Neurontin Linked to Opioid Overdoses.” Pain News Network. May 11, 2017. Accessed April 27, 2019.