There is a misconception that rehabs are filled with people who abuse “street drugs” like heroin and meth. But in reality, many people who seek help at treatment programs find themselves in the grips of common prescription medication addiction. It’s becoming all too common: a person is prescribed a pain medication as the result of an injury or surgery, and they find out too late that it has highly addictive properties (we’re looking at you, OxyContin and Xanax). But these increasingly well-known addictive prescription drugs are not the only ones that can be abused. Lyrica (Schedule V drug) is a medication used to treat pain caused by nerve damage. And though it’s not famous for its addictive properties, pregabalin (generic name for Lyrica) is monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
What is Lyrica?
Many pain relief medications are opioids, including Norco, oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc. These are well known for being addictive, to the point of it now being an epidemic in the US. But Lyrica is not an opioid.
Pregabalin, the generic name for Lyrica, is classified as a GABA analogue. Doctors prescribe this medication to treat nerve damage due to diabetes, shingles, or spinal cord injury. It’s also effective to treat certain types of seizures if taken continuously. But rather than blocking pain receptors like opioids, GABA analogues increase the uptake of GABA by hippocampal neurons.
Pregabalin in particular is one of the newer forms of GABA analogues, and it is less studied than older drugs like gabapentin that are in the same category. So the effects of the drug are not entirely known. As a result, the DEA classified Lyrica as a schedule five drug.
What is a Schedule V Drug?
The DEA classifies controlled substances into five schedules:
- Schedule I: Drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
- Schedule II: High potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.
- Schedule III: Moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.
- Schedule IV: Low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.
- Schedule V: Drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics.
So while Schedule V drugs are the lowest on the list, they are still recognized to have at least some potential for abuse. And this is to be expected when they contain trace elements of narcotics. Pregabalin may be moved to another schedule once more studies have been conducted on this relatively new medication.
Is Lyrica (Schedule V Drug) Addictive?
Everyone responds differently to drugs introduced to their system. That’s why addicts have certain drugs of choice–their effects vary greatly between people. So it’s no surprise to say that while Lyrica may be safe for some, it can be addictive for others.
Medication for pain relief is tricky. Since pain is so subjective, people can easily fall into the trap of feeling their need for medication is greater than it actually is. This psychological dependence can quickly spiral out of control, and that process is not limited to higher schedule drugs like opioids. Lyrica can also be abused. It all depends on the person taking it and their history with addiction.
If you or a loved one is seeking help for a substance abuse problem, our treatment counselors are available 24/7 by phone: 855-737-7363