A WARNING has been issued to people in the county to stay away from the drug pregabalin if it has not been prescribed to you by your doctor.
Cases of pregabalin deaths have increased across the North over the last few years leading to the drug being upgraded to a class C controlled substance – meaning it is illegal to be in possession of it unless your GP has prescribed it.
The drug itself is issued out by GPs for conditions including diabetic nerve pain, nerve pain after shingles, nerve pain from a spinal cord injury, fibromyalgia and partial onset seizures.
However, there are street dealers selling the drug to users who want to experience the euphoric high that comes with pregabalin.
But as drug counsellor, Aidan Ormsby of Solace which is based at the Arc Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown, says the incorrect dose as well as it being mixed with other substances can be deadly.
He said: “Prescription medication should only ever be used by the individual it has been prescribed to and in the dosage that has been prescribed. Taking medication that is not specifically prescribed for you can cause harm and when mixed with other substances including alcohol can increase the risk of overdose.
“This is more likely to happen when pregabalin is abused. Gradually increasing the amount, you take, and regularly taking more than prescribed, over time, has potential to cause addiction. If any individual is concerned about their use of pregabalin they should always consult with their GP or community pharmacist to discuss the prescription. They are trained and best placed to advise each patient.
“Alcohol can increase the nervous system side effects of pregabalin such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience impairment in thinking and judgment.”
Mr Ormsby states that while help is available for those who find themselves addicted to pregabalin – and other substances – much more could be done by Stormont to help users.
He added: “At Solace we are working collaboratively with a multitude of agencies to help in any way we can to reduce harm caused by substances including pregabalin across Fermanagh.
“The lack of an operating Stormont Executive creates uncertainty in relation to funding of services and this lack of certainty can lead challenges in recruiting and retaining staff in the sector.
“Further resources, capacity and stability would certainly assist Arc , as well as others to further enhance service delivery.
“A lack of a functioning Executive at Stormont adds to the challenges and negative energy across all facets in society. Instability never helps.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition