Pregabalin Use Among Users of Illicit Drugs: A Cross-Sectional Survey in Southern Germany
The antiepileptic drug pregabalin is one of the best-selling pharmaceutical products worldwide. There are increasing concerns about its potential for misuse and dependence especially among patients with former or current substance use disorders (SUDs).
Our objective was to clarify the extent and pattern of pregabalin use as well as motives and predictors in this population.
We conducted a cross-sectional study with patients on a detoxification ward for illicit drugs at the Center for Psychiatry, Südwürttemberg, Ravensburg in southern Germany from August 2012 until July 2013. We used an extensive questionnaire, part of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition) Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) and urine samples.
Of the 253 participating patients, 56% had used pregabalin at least once. Of these, 92% had acquired it at least in part from illegal sources. The main motives for the use of pregabalin were the attenuation of opioid withdrawal symptoms, the augmentation of other psychotropic substances, and the psychotropic effects of pregabalin itself. Predictors for pregabalin use were opioid and sedative use as well as younger age. The criteria of dependency according to DSM-IV was met by 11% of pregabalin users and 13% of urine samples were positive for pregabalin.
Use of pregabalin is common among users of illicit drugs in large parts of southern Germany, with motives for use, acquisition, and mode of use suggesting misuse. The mode of use, especially intake of high doses and concomitant use of other drugs, poses a serious risk to this population, including the development of dependency.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The study was approved by the appropriate research ethics committee of the University of Ulm (Application no. 184/12).
Written informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.
Conflict of interest
Brendan J. Snellgrove, Tilman Steinert, and Susanne Jaeger declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
No specific funding was received for this study.
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