Medications prescribed to people suffering from muscular pain, epilepsy or painful nerves can help alleviate pain. Lyrica is one among such medications. A few people claim that this drug is a narcotic. Is it truly one?

Lyrica contains a generic drug called pregabalin. Prime function of this drug is to minimize the quantum of signals from nerves, especially nerves that are damaged. It is widely used for treating injuries in your spinal cord. It is administered to treat neuropathic problems, convulsions and seizures triggered by epilepsy as well as general anxieties including restless legs. Lyrica can reduce the symptoms of these medical conditions. Hence, it is not a cure in itself.

This drug is available in multiple forms. These include tablets, liquid as well as capsules. It is also made available as a sustained release for extended periods of action. The prescribed intake of this drug is usually for twice each day. However, sustained or extended release version is taken once per day, typically after your meal in the evening. Clinical studies suggest that it make take a longer time to derive the benefits of lyrica. Hence, you may be needed to take the drug for a longer time. As it can be habit forming, talk to your doctor if you are experiencing other side effects.

You are advised to tell your treating doctor if you have any known allergies, especially to lyrica or pregabalin. It is also necessary to inform the physician about all other drugs that you are currently consuming before starting a dose. Lyrica may interact with other drugs such as antihistamines, antidepressants, sleeping pills, stress relieving drugs, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, etc. The interactions are more pronounced among drugs (especially, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibiting drugs) such as captopril, benazepril, perindopril, etc.

If you have any prior medical problems, you need to talk about them to your doctor before taking a dose of lyrica. Inform the physician if you have a medical history of ailments such as cardiac disorders, eyesight related diseases, blood related problems (such as lower count of blood cells or platelets), respiratory problems, etc. The drug may make you dizzy. Hence, you are advised not to perform activities that require high level of mental alertness. Such activities include operating a heavy machinery, driving a vehicle, etc. It is strongly recommended to consult your therapist as well as physician if you have mental disorders, depression, bipolar diseases and anger management issues. It is widely noted that elderly people are prone more risks than younger patients.

You are advised not to consume alcohol while taking lyrica. Also, you need to inform your treating doctor if you are planning to become pregnant, already pregnant or nursing a baby. There are no special precautions to be taken on diet; though you are advised to seek your dietician’s inputs on changes if any.

As believed by some people, lyrica is not an opioid or a narcotic. On the contrary, the drug belongs to a category of medications known as anticonvulsants.


So, why do some people claim it to be a narcotic?

It is mainly because this drug can be habit forming. In some patients, the intake of lyrica has led to suicidal behaviors. It is mainly due to depression it triggers in patients. In some instances, it has been observed that suicidal thoughts have occurred within a week of starting the medication plan. Hence, it may be a trade-off situation and one may choose to take such risks fully knowing the side effects. It is strongly advised to take needful medical attention if you suffer from side effects such as stress, anxiety, depression, inability to sleep, nervousness and panic. You may have to take medical help on an emergency basis if you nurse suicidal thoughts and actions or if you are acting impulsively.

Clinical studies are yet to completely research and document the side effects of withdrawing this drug. Doctors hence advise a slow and steady withdrawal of this drug. However, discontinuing lyrica all of a sudden is found to trigger withdrawal related symptoms. The usual signs associated with withdrawal are irregular heartbeat, insomnia, stress, vertigo, needless aggression, severe headache, dizziness, etc.

Owing to these reasons, your doctor may start the dosage of lyrica at the lowest possible level. The treating doctor may also advise a closer medical supervision of your progress, especially when lyrica is administered along with an opioid medication.


What are the alternatives?

As mentioned above, lyrica falls under a class of drugs called anticonvulsants. There are substitutes available under over-the-counter category. These are sold as pain killers. The problem with them however is their limited efficacies to treat inflammation. These drugs in the OTC category are widely used for treating headaches and common fevers. The most widely known OTC drugs are naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.

Your doctor may advise the intake of substitutes such as duloxetine or gabapentin. As per food and drug administration (FDA), both lyrica and its substitutes (listed above) are categorized as non-narcotic or non-opioid drugs. These offer remedies for nerve and muscular pains. Other alternatives include non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like celecoxib. Apart from NSAIDs, corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone, prednisolone, etc are also administered.

There are also a few natural alternatives. These are ginger, magnesium-rich foods and vitamin D supplements.

Apart from patients, the caregiver (spouse, parent or nurse) needs to be fully aware of the side effects and signs of withdrawal of lyrica. It is also strongly recommended to read the contents of the patient information guide (medication sheet) printed by the manufacturer. The contents are to be read each time you opt for a refill. Always remember to seek medical attention when the situation needs an expert’s advice or inputs. You are advised to call 911 if the caregiver finds the situation to need professional support.

To sum, lyrica is a non-opioid and nonnarcotic drug administered to patients with muscular or nerve pains. In some patients though, it is found to trigger depression and suicidal tendencies (both thoughts and actions). It is a drug which needs to be slowly withdrawn, and not done abruptly. Hence it is recommended to talk to your treating doctor if you are prescribed with lyrica.

Your doctor can offer needful clarifications on the use of lyrica for your medical condition. You are also advised to talk about the likely side effects – especially about withdrawal symptoms as well as depression. You may go ahead with the treatment and medication plan if your doctor tells you why lyrica is best suited to treat convulsions and associated pains.


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