Is Lamotrigine a controlled substance? 

Is Lamotrigine a controlled substance? 

No, Lamotrigine is not a controlled substance. It is an anticonvulsant medication and a mood stabiliser. Lamotrigine basically controls the irregular activity of chemicals or neurotransmitters in your brain that causes seizures and unusual mood changes (1). 

Although it is not a substance of abuse, Lamotrigine is still prescribed carefully. This is because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning against Lamotrigine that this medication hyperactivates the immune system or infection-fighting cells and causes severe inflammation all over your body (2). 

This can lead to hospitalization and even death (2). However, this side effect is not that common but it’s difficult to predict who will be affected. 

If your doctor has prescribed Lamotrigine and your body seems to adjust well to it, make sure you take it as properly as you can and don’t exceed the prescribed dosage strength and frequency. 

How is Lamotrigine different from controlled substances?

While Lamotrigine affects the brain like controlled substances, there are some major points that differentiate it from those medications:

Therapeutic purpose

As stated earlier, Lamotrigine is prescribed for specific medical conditions like epilepsy and bipolar disorder (1,3), whereas controlled substances, such as opioids or stimulants, are typically prescribed for pain management, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or other specific purposes (4).


Lamotrigine is classified as an antiepileptic or anticonvulsant medication. It is not categorized as a controlled substance by regulatory authorities (5). 

Controlled substances, on the other hand, are medications that have the potential for abuse or addiction and are regulated due to their potential for misuse (4).

Abuse potential

Lamotrigine has a relatively low potential for abuse or addiction compared to controlled substances. 

Controlled substances, by their nature, have a higher risk of abuse, dependence, and addiction due to their effects on the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. (4)

Prescription requirements

Lamotrigine is typically prescribed by healthcare providers and may require regular monitoring, dose adjustments, or gradual tapering off when discontinuing the medication (5). 

Controlled substances often have stricter regulations and may require specialized prescriptions, more frequent monitoring, or specific dispensing procedures to prevent misuse (4).

It’s important to note that Lamotrigine, like any medication, should be taken as prescribed and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. It’s crucial to follow the prescribed dosage and not use it in a manner other than what was directed by your healthcare provider.

Can Lamotrigine negatively affect your health?

Lamotrigine, although it is not a controlled substance, can affect your health negatively by causing side effects (5).

Common side effects of Lamotrigine include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Upset stomach or abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Increased libido
  • Skin rash (notably, it may be serious in some cases)
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Fatigue or weakness

Rare but serious side effects (should be reported to a healthcare professional immediately):

  • Allergic reactions (e.g., hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing)
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a severe skin reaction)
  • Aseptic meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviours
  • Mood changes (such as depression, anxiety, and agitation)
  • Persistent or severe headaches
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Signs of liver problems (e.g., yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, abdominal pain)
  • Changes in vision or eye problems
  • Fever, sore throat, or other signs of infection

What to do if you are concerned about Lamotrigine-induced side effects?

If you have concerns about the side effects of Lamotrigine, it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider. They are the best resource to help address your specific concerns and provide guidance.

Your healthcare provider will evaluate your individual situation and consider factors such as your medical history, other medications you may be taking, and the severity of the side effects. 

They may adjust the dosage of Lamotrigine, suggest ways to manage the side effects or explore alternative treatment options if necessary. Remember, each person may react differently to medications, and what works for one person may not work the same way for another.

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Goa KL, Ross SR, Chrisp P. Lamotrigine. A review of its pharmacological properties and clinical efficacy in epilepsy. Drugs. 1993 Jul;46(1):152-76. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199346010-00009. PMID: 7691504.


The Food and Drug Administration, FDA. FDA warns of serious immune system reaction with seizure and mental health medicine lamotrigine.


Goldsmith DR, Wagstaff AJ, Ibbotson T, Perry CM. Lamotrigine: a review of its use in bipolar disorder. Drugs. 2003;63(19):2029-50. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200363190-00009. PMID: 12962521.


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