Patterns and correlates of prescribed and non-prescribed pregabalin use among a sample of people who inject drugs in Australia

Rachel Sutherland, Paul M. Dietze, Natasa Gisev, Raimondo Bruno, Gabrielle Campbell, Sonja Memedovic, Amy Peacock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Introduction and Aims: Pregabalin is a gamma-aminobutyric acid analogue registered and subsidised for the treatment of neuropathic pain in Australia. Despite pre-clinical evidence of low abuse potential, there are increasing reports of extramedical use and overdose deaths involving pregabalin. This study aimed to describe patterns of pregabalin use among an Australian sample of people who inject drugs (PWID) and identify sociodemographic, substance use and mental/physical health correlates of prescribed and non-prescribed use. Design and Methods: Data were obtained from the 2018 Illicit Drug Reporting System, comprising a cross-sectional sample of 905 PWID recruited from Australian capital cities. Multinomial logistic regression was used to identify correlates of past 6-month prescribed and non-prescribed pregabalin use. Results: One-quarter (25%) of participants reported any past 6-month pregabalin use, with 10% reporting prescribed use and 15% non-prescribed use. Past 6-month use of prescribed benzodiazepines and non-prescribed pharmaceutical opioids were associated with both prescribed and non-prescribed pregabalin use compared to no recent pregabalin use. Pain/discomfort on the day of interview was significantly associated with prescribed pregabalin use. Recent use of non-prescribed benzodiazepines and illicit stimulants and past year non-fatal overdose were significantly associated with non-prescribed pregabalin use (compared to no recent pregabalin use). Discussion and Conclusions: Pregabalin use was relatively common among an Australian sample of PWID. Benzodiazepine and pharmaceutical opioid use were positively correlated with both prescribed and non-prescribed pregabalin use, suggesting that education campaigns regarding the risks of harm associated with concomitant use of these substances are warranted (targeting both health professionals and consumers).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-574
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • gabapentinoid
  • injecting
  • post-marketing product surveillance
  • pregabalin
  • prescription drug misuse

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