Background: Several case reports and epidemiological studies have raised concern about the abuse potential of pregabalin, the use of which has increased substantially over the last decade. Pregabalin is, in some cases, used for recreational purposes and it has incurred attention among drug abusers for causing euphoric and dissociative effects when taken in doses exceeding normal therapeutic dosages or used by alternative routes of administration, such as nasal insufflation or venous injection. The magnitude of the abuse potential and the mechanism behind it are not fully known.
Objective: The aim of this study was to present a systematic review of the data concerning the abuse potential of pregabalin.
Methods: We performed a systematic literature search and reviewed the preclinical, clinical and epidemiological data on the abuse potential of pregabalin.
Results: We included preclinical (n = 17), clinical (n = 19) and epidemiological (n = 13) studies addressing the abuse potential of pregabalin. We also reviewed case reports (n = 9) concerning abuse of pregabalin. The preclinical studies indicated that pregabalin possesses modulatory effects on the GABA and glutamate systems, leaving room for an abuse potential. Further, clinical studies reported euphoria as a frequent side effect in patients treated with pregabalin. The majority of case reports concerning abuse of pregabalin involved patients with a history of substance abuse and, similarly, epidemiological studies found evidence of abuse, especially among opiate abusers.
Conclusions: Overall, the available literature suggests an important clinical abuse potential of pregabalin and prescribers should pay attention to signs of abuse, especially in patients with a history of substance abuse.