Pregabalin is a medication used for seizures, anxiety and neuropathic pain. It is also known by a brand name Lrica® and various street names. In recent years it’s use has become prolific across Northern Ireland is also seen in other parts of the UK among heroin users and the prison population. It is involved in ever more fatal overdoses in these groups/region.
The Public Health Agency NI tasked me, now with Extern to provide a set of resources on the drug. These include a workers guide, users guide and a poster all intended to raise awareness of the risks and reduce them as far as possible.
The workers guide was produced as a PDF file available to download and print. All too often staff who do not have adequate knowledge about a drug cannot effectively help the people who use it. Worse than that they could fall into the trap of giving poor information and advice which decreases confidence in the worker and can even increase risks to the user.
Once the worker guide became available on both the PHA and Extern websites, I began to receive emails and phone calls about it from professionals and drugs workers all over the UK and Ireland, seeking further information. The feedback received in NI and elsewhere shows that there are increasing issues with pregabalin everywhere.
Used properly this guide can help workers to identify and manage the risks effectively in collaboration with users. There are three pages dedicated to harm reduction tips, many of which have proved very helpful to both users and their workers. I wish you well in it’s use.
Chris Rintoul is a social worker based in Belfast, NI. He started working in the homelessness and addiction fields in the early 1990s in Edinburgh. Currently he works for Extern, a leading provider of social care services in Ireland. He has a specialist interest in harm reduction and overdose management and has spoken at conferences throughout the work on the latter subject. Ian ‘Buff’ Cameron and he provided the world’s first interactive overdose management app in 2012 for smartphones and tablets. Other than that he enjoys all things motorcycling and travels as often as possible!