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GPs warned as gabapentinoids are linked to heroin overdose deaths


I work as a GPSI in addictions. I have also worked in the prison system in Scotland and seen the demand for gabapentin and pregabalin. The drugs are used either on their own or combined with opiates/benzos to achieve an enhanced hit. I now work in the community and many of my patients report misuse of these drugs and great difficulty in detoxing when they try.I know one person who overdosed with gabapentin( prescribed by his GP for back pain) in combination with opiates and lay on his floor for 36 hours suffering carpet burns and nerve damage. I am not anti drugs and I don't believe drugs are the cause of addiction. There is time and a place for gabapentin or pregabalin. However as a prescriber I need to feel confident that I am dealing with a genuine case of neuropathic pain and consider other pharmaceutical/ non pharmaceutical options in somebody with risk factors for addiction before considering this drug type. I am very sceptical about using pregabalin for "anxiety" symptoms as well. Diazepam has caused so much harm due to inappropriate prescribing over the last few decades and I believe we are dealing with a similar type of drug with the gabapentinoids. We can be under so much pressure to prescribe drugs to patients in an attempt to alleviate suffering, not always the caring thing to do.

Posted date

16 May 2017

Posted time