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‘Don’t lose nerve on pain drugs’, Pain Concern urges

As a sur­vey of UK drug use reveals a ‘sig­nif­i­cant increase in mis­use’ of two of the most impor­tant drugs for chron­ic pain, pre­ga­balin and gabapentin, Pain Con­cern is urg­ing pre­scribers to ensure that these often life-chang­ing treat­ments remain avail­able to peo­ple liv­ing with pain.

The char­i­ty behind the sur­vey, DrugScope, say that this wor­ry­ing trend has devel­oped main­ly among those already mis­us­ing opi­oids and in prison pop­u­la­tions. The drugs are being used to enhance the effects of oth­er drugs, includ­ing alco­hol and hero­in, and are cit­ed by drug work­ers as being respon­si­ble for an increase in risky behav­iours and over­dose among drug misusers.

How­ev­er, when used as pre­scribed for neu­ro­path­ic pain, pre­ga­balin and gabapentin are regard­ed as safe drugs with a low risk of seri­ous side effects. They are high­light­ed as ‘front line’ treat­ments for peo­ple with neu­ro­path­ic pain in the offi­cial guid­ance issued by NICE to health­care pro­fes­sion­als work­ing in pri­ma­ry care. Neu­ro­path­ic pain is often dif­fi­cult to treat so it is impor­tant that GPs and oth­er health­care pro­fes­sion­als are not afraid to make use of one of the key tools avail­able to them. Heather Wal­lace, Chair of Pain Con­cern, said: ‘While we recog­nise that there is a prob­lem of mis­us­ing these drugs among a small sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, this should not mean that thou­sands of peo­ple are left to face neu­ro­path­ic pain – already an under­diag­nosed and under­treat­ed con­di­tion – with­out the treat­ment that can help them to lead a full life.’

Heather also stress­es the impor­tance of con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide effec­tive pain man­age­ment to peo­ple in prison and those with a his­to­ry of drug addic­tion: ‘Every­one has the right to pain relief.’


Gaber­pentin is one of my life­saver with­out it I would almost cer­tain­ly not be able to work full time as I present­ly do.
I think we need to trust that doc­tors do not pre­scribe these drugs light­ly, mine was giv­en as a last resort before I had to give up work — I was already on reduced hours but now I’m back up to full time and although I also take codeine and parac­eta­mol I now don’t always have to take the full allowance.
For some of us these are mir­a­cle drugs after years of unbe­liev­er pain.
PLEASE leave them alone.

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