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The Rising Concern of Pregabalin and Gabapentin Abuse: A Growing Issue in Pain Management

Gabapentinoids, such as Pregabalin and Gabapentin, are gamma-aminobutyric acid analogue agents utilized in the treatment of neuropathic pain. Unfortunately, these medications are increasingly being misused to achieve euphoric and dissociative effects, raising concerns within the medical community.


The misuse of Pregabalin, in particular, has become a topic of growing concern over the past few years. Rather than being taken as a standalone drug, individuals often combine it with opioids, significantly elevating the risk of a fatal overdose. Pregabalin's pharmacological characteristics make it more susceptible to abuse, adding another layer of complexity to the issue.


Physicians, initially tempted to prescribe gabapentinoids as analgesics to circumvent the risks associated with opioids, now find themselves facing requests for prescriptions from patients with substance abuse tendencies. This trend is particularly evident in settings like prison medicine, where opiate-dependent inmates seek gabapentinoid treatment to alleviate withdrawal sensations.


The prevalence of gabapentinoid abuse has continued to rise, increasing from 4.0% in 2015 to 4.7% in 2021. Notably, individuals using other medications for chronic pain were found to be more likely to engage in gabapentinoid use.


As the medical community grapples with this evolving issue, it becomes crucial to address the growing misuse of Pregabalin and Gabapentin, shedding light on the potential dangers associated with their inappropriate use in pain management.


 

Kiliç Z, Aydin Özaslan E. Abuse and addiction in gabapentinoid drug users for neuropathic pain. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2023 Jun;27(12):5378-5389. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202306_32772. PMID: 37401272.


Servais L, Huberland V, Richelle L. Misuse of Pregabalin: a qualitative study from a patient's perspective. BMC Public Health. 2023 Jul 12;23(1):1339. doi: 10.1186/s12889-023-16051-6. PMID: 37438829; PMCID: PMC10337149.


Flemming R. Patterns of pregabalin prescribing in four German federal states: analysis of routine data to investigate potential misuse of pregabalin. BMJ Open. 2022 Jul 25;12(7):e060104. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-060104. PMID: 35879005; PMCID: PMC9328100.


Johansen ME, Maust DT. Update to Gabapentinoid Use in the United States, 2002-2021. Ann Fam Med. 2024 Jan-Feb;22(1):45-49. doi: 10.1370/afm.3052. PMID: 38253511.

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