Josh Chandler | July 1, 2024

Lyrica vs. Gabapentin: What Is the Difference?

Lyrica vs. gabapentin isn’t a contest; one drug may better work for some patients. Which one is ideal for you? That depends on your condition and your healthcare provider’s advice. Here, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between these two prescription medications. If you still have questions after reading, consult your healthcare provider or contact Muse Treatment. 

Muse Treatment is a leading behavioral and mental health treatment center. We feature a full range of treatment programs, such as inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, aftercare services, medical detox, dual diagnosis, and medication-assisted treatment. Our clinicians are licensed, highly experienced, and committed to providing each patient with empathetic care. Muse Treatment is known for providing individualized treatment plans for all clients to ensure they get the support they need to achieve their recovery goals. 


What Is Lyrica?

Lyrica is a prescription medication that is prescribed to treat conditions such as nerve pain and epilepsy. It is the brand name of the drug pregabalin, a drug belonging to the gabapentinoid class of drugs. Although it is not scheduled as a drug of abuse, it can be abused, as can gabapentin. It targets central nervous system calcium channels to help suppress or inhibit certain neurotransmitter signals involved in ‘reporting’ pain. This drug is also prescribed to treat fibromyalgia and diabetic nerve pain. Off-label, it has been prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder. 


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What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin belongs to the same class of drugs as Lyrica. Like Lyrica, it is prescribed to treat nerve pain and/or seizures associated with conditions like epilepsy. Gabapentin does not precisely target the GABA neuronal system, which inhibits nerve signals involved in reporting pain; instead, it appears to target central nervous system calcium channels to block neurotransmitter release. It also has off-label uses. It is prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and hot flashes. It can be abused, especially if users develop a dependence on this medication, though the risks of a gabapentin overdose are generally low.


Similarities Between Lyrica and Gabapentin

Since both Lyrica and gabapentin are both FDA-approved drugs that belong to the same drug class, they have many similarities. This may make it challenging for physicians to prescribe one drug over another. These similarities include:

  • A similar structure to the brain neurotransmitter Gaba-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
  • Both drugs target GABA to replicate its inhibitory action.
  • Both drugs treat conditions involving nerve pain and seizures.
  • Both drugs are prescribed off-label to treat conditions such as anxiety.
  • Both drugs may cause similar side effects, such as fatigue and mild dizziness.
  • Both drugs have been clinically studied and found to be equally effective in treating the conditions they’re formulated to treat.


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Key Differences Between Lyrica s. Gabapentin

While there are many similarities between Lyrica vs. gabapentin, there are also many differences you should know about. Key differences between Lyrica vs. gabapentin include:

  • The DEA has classified Lyrica as a Schedule V controlled substance. Similar drugs in this class, like gabapentin, have not been so classified in all states.
  • While both drugs are available in liquid and capsule form, gabapentin is available in tablet form as well.
  • The body absorbs Lyrica more quickly, and the drug works more rapidly.
  • Lyrica has more FDA-approved uses.


Efficacy and Side Effects

When comparing Lyrica vs. gabapentin, both have a solid reputation for efficacy and appear to achieve similar good results with patients. However, both of these medications can cause side effects that include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Mild dizziness.
  • Reduced coordination.
  • Hand or foot swelling.
  • Weight gain.
  • Mood changes.

You must report any side effects you experience to your prescribing physician. Depending on the severity and duration of these side effects, you may need a different dose or medication. In many cases, side effects disappear once the individual gets used to the medication. 


Choosing Between Lyrica and Gabapentin

Generally, it’s up to your prescribing physician to choose Lyrica or gabapentin, but patients may have a preference that impacts their healthcare provider’s decision. Although Lyrica treats a wider range of conditions than gabapentin does, it’s also associated with more risk for abuse. It is classified in all states as a Schedule V controlled substance. Gabapentin is currently classified as a Schedule V controlled substance in some states. It appears to be a less common drug of abuse. Of course, any drug may be abused. If you find that you have developed a dependency on any of these prescription medications, you should seek help from Muse Treatment or alert your prescribing physician. 


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Potential for Abuse and Dependency

There is more potential for abuse and dependency with Lyrica than with gabapentin, according to the most current medical information. However, you may develop a dependency on either drug. A physical dependency is not an addiction; addiction involves not only physical dependence but also psychological dependence, making it a more complex condition to manage. However, if you do develop either a dependence on one of these drugs or an addiction, you can get help. 

Substance addiction is chronic, but it is treatable. You can manage it with high-quality treatment. The first step is enrolling in a treatment program that is right for you. At Muse Treatment, we support clients throughout the recovery process. Our treatment programs include inpatient and outpatient treatment, medical detox, and aftercare. 


Muse Treatment’s Approach to Medication Management

At Muse Treatment, we combine evidence-based, alternative, and holistic addiction therapies to help our clients manage their substance addiction. When you visit us, we can discuss our treatment approaches to help you select the best treatments for your needs. If you have a polydrug addiction or dual diagnosis, our rehab center can also help. 

Contact Muse Treatment for additional information about these prescription medications or to learn more about our treatment services. We accept many different insurance plans and accept alternative payment options. Muse Treatment features a comprehensive range of behavioral health and mental health treatment plans that include substance abuse treatment. After we evaluate your condition, we can recommend the best options for you. 

Let our experienced clinicians help you achieve your recovery goals. Too often, people put off treatment that can positively impact all the important aspects of their lives, including their overall health. We’ve helped many people successfully manage their substance abuse conditions; we can help you, too! Call us today at 800-426-1818 to get started.



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Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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