Home > On the addictive power of gabapentinoids: a mini-review.

Bonnet, Udo and Richter, Emily-Lisa and Isbruch, Katrin and Scherbaum, Norbert (2018) On the addictive power of gabapentinoids: a mini-review. Psychiatria Danubina, 30, (2), pp. 142-149.

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The gabapentinoids gabapentin and pregabalin have been related to addiction citing pharmacovigilance data, some case presentations and increasing reports mainly from methadone maintenance treatment programs or emergency medicine. Most of these reports were based on patients with another current or previous substance use disorder (SUD). According to the ICD-10 dependence criteria, physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms, tolerance) was reported most frequently alongside regular use of gabapentinoids. Far less patients showed key symptoms of behavioral dependence (craving, loss of control, or addictive behavior).

Through a literature review, we found 2 and 13 case reports about gabapentionoid-seeking behavior or craving for gabapentin and pregabalin, respectively. Those patients without a history of another SUD, but being behaviorally dependent on gabapentinoids, deemed more appropriate to reflect the true addictive power of these drugs. We found solely 4 such cases, all referring to pregabalin and none for gabapentin. Taking into account that gabapentinoids have become widely distributed and easily obtainable via the internet or black-markets, one would expect many more of these cases, if gabapentinoids had considerable addictive power. Moreover, we are not aware of any patient who sought detoxification treatment owing to the misuse of gabapentinoids. Unlike for traditional psychoactive drugs, there is only very scarce evidence for gabapentinoids to be misused in a long-term manner and to be rewarding and reinforcing in animal experiments. Further, we assessed the hazardous potential of gabapentin and pregabalin in relation to that of traditional substances of abuse. Altogether, we support the view that gabapentinoids are quite rarely addictive in the general population. In patients with a history of SUD, however, gabapentinoids (notably pregabalin) should avoided or, if thought to be beneficial, administered with caution by using a strict prescription and therapy monitoring.

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