As many of you know I am roughly 6 to maybe 7 months along on a benzodiazepine taper. I just finally got down to a legally prescribable amount and my doctor switched me from Valium, which I was taking in conjunction with Diclazepam, to Ativan, or Lorazepam. She also prescribed me Lyrica, or Pregabalin, to use in conjunction with my benzodiazepine taper. I suggested this as an add on for my taper after doing quite a bit of research on the drug.
Most of you likely know Lyrica as being prescribed primarily for neuropathic pain disorders or for people who suffer from seizures; But it is also prescribed mostly off-label as a treatment for anxiety.
The fact that it reduces the likelihood of an individual having seizures is probably the most important aspect of using it during your taper. If you’ve done your research, benzo withdrawal is one of the few things in this world that can actually kill you due to the fact that it can cause seizures; Some of which could potentially kill you or leave you brain dead in a coma.
Pregabalin is a Gabapentinoid and in simple terms it binds to the voltage-gated calcium channels within your brain and inhibits the output of several neurotransmitters from these calcium channels; this is how it reduces anxiety for the individual. The interesting thing about Pregabalin though is that despite being a Gabapentinoid, it does not break down into GABA within the brain or interact with the GABA A or B receptors.
Benzodiazepines produce their effects by binding to GABA A recepetors. So, it is rather beneficial when used in conjunction with a benzo taper because of the fact that it does not effect the GABA receptors within your brain.
The fact that it reduces anxiety alone is major for anyone going through a benzodiazepine taper; If you have or are currently going through one you know what I’m talking about, it is an incredibly elongated stressful experience.
Another very important side effect of Pregabalin is that it also reduces the release of Glutamate at synapses in the entorhinal cortex. When you are addicted to benzodiazepines and cease taking them your body up-regulates glutamate; Or as I’ve heard it referred to, a Glutamate dump within your brain.
Glutamate is a neurotransmitter in our brains and it is used by every major excitatory function in the vertebrate brain, accounting in total for well over 90% of the synaptic connections in the brain. When you use benzo’s regularly, you are stimulating GABA within the brain which is why they produce the effects that they do; resulting in sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties. GABA and Glutamate are supposed to stay balanced within our brains but when you discontinue benzodiazepines you are no longer continuously stimulating GABA receptors, and Glutamate overtakes the GABA levels within your brain. Glutamate is a stimulating neurotransmitter and too much of it in the brain without the calming effects of GABA results in many of the withdrawal symptoms produced by benzodiazepine withdrawal such as depression, anxiety, restlessness, the inability to focus, and etc.
So, the fact that Pregabalin assists to reduce the Glutamate “dump” within our brains is extremely beneficial to those that are going through benzo withdrawal. I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind; But if you are going through benzodiazepine withdrawal, after doing the research, Pregabalin is almost the perfect add-on medication to be used during a benzo taper. It can help to mitigate many of the negative side effects caused by withdrawals. I’m not saying it is a save all holy water, but it can be very beneficial.
With all that being said, it is something to think about if you have found yourself in the same position as myself; It might be worth talking to your doctor about at the least.
I cited this one for you guys as well if you’d like to have quick research references. This article is very “dumbed down” so to speak because I wasn’t trying to write a medical journal! Haha
With all that being said, my love and best wishes to you all.
A Half Broken Mind