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Is Gabapentin Addictive?

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Gabapentin is a prescription medication primarily used to treat seizures, neuropathic pain, and other conditions. While it is generally considered safe and non-addictive when used as directed, there is some potential for abuse and dependence.

Gabapentin is not classified as a controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, some people may misuse gabapentin for its relaxing and euphoric effects, and the drug can have addictive properties when taken in large doses or for prolonged periods.

Some of the signs of gabapentin addiction may include the following:

  • Cravings for the drug.
  • Using gabapentin in higher doses or more frequently than prescribed.
  • Spending a lot of time and money obtaining and using the drug.
  • Continue using gabapentin despite negative consequences like health problems or relationship issues.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit using gabapentin.

If you or someone you love has a substance use disorder, Guardian Recovery is available to help. We are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and individualized medically monitored detox program. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.

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Is Gabapentin (Neurontin) Addictive?

Gabapentin, also sold under Neurontin, is a prescription medication typically used to treat seizures, neuropathic pain, and other conditions. When used as directed, it is generally considered safe and non-addictive. However, if taken in large doses or for extended periods, there is a risk of dependence and abuse.

Gabapentin is not specifically approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcohol cravings. However, some healthcare providers may prescribe gabapentin “off-label” for this purpose, meaning that it is used in a manner not approved by the FDA.

Research studies have suggested that gabapentin may effectively reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms in some individuals. It is thought to work by decreasing the activity of certain brain chemicals involved in alcohol addiction.

Although gabapentin is not classified as a controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), some individuals may misuse it for its euphoric and relaxing effects.

What Is Gabapentin & Why Is It Prescribed?

Gabapentin is a prescription medication primarily used to treat seizures, neuropathic pain, and other conditions.

Gabapentin affects the activity of specific brain and nervous system chemicals involved in developing seizures and neuropathic pain. It is classified as an anticonvulsant and is thought to work by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain that can lead to seizures or pain.

In addition to seizures and neuropathic pain, gabapentin may be prescribed for other conditions, such as restless legs syndrome, hot flashes, and anxiety. Gabapentin may also be used “off-label” to treat other conditions for which it has not been officially approved.

Gabapentin is typically taken orally in the form of capsules or tablets. The dosage and duration of treatment will depend on the specific condition and the individual patient’s needs.

Gabapentin & Its Use in Addiction Treatment

Gabapentin is a prescription medication used off-label to help individuals struggling with addiction. While gabapentin is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for addiction treatment, it helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in individuals addicted to opioids, alcohol, or other substances.

Gabapentin is thought to work by reducing the activity of certain brain chemicals involved in the development of addiction. It is effective in reducing symptoms of withdrawal and craving in individuals who are addicted to opioids or alcohol and may also help to reduce anxiety and insomnia associated with withdrawal.

When used as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan, gabapentin can be an effective tool in helping individuals overcome addiction. It is often used with other medications, such as buprenorphine or methadone, and may be used with behavioral therapy or other forms of support.

Potential of Addiction & Dependence When Using Prescription Painkillers

Prescription painkillers, also known as opioids, have a high potential for addiction and dependence when misused or for extended periods. Opioids bind to brain and nervous system receptors, effectively blocking pain signals and producing euphoria.

When used as directed for short periods, opioids can effectively manage pain. However, when opioids are used in larger doses or extended periods than prescribed, they can be highly addictive and may lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Physical dependence on opioids occurs when the body adapts to the presence of the drug and requires it to function normally. When a person physically dependent on opioids stops using the drug or reduces the dose, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and muscle aches.

Psychological dependence on opioids occurs when a person feels a strong compulsion to continue using the drug, despite harmful consequences such as relationship problems, financial difficulties, and health issues.

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Is Gabapentin Safer for Pain Use Than Opioids?

Gabapentin is generally considered to be safer for pain management than opioids. Opioids have a higher potential for addiction and dependence and a higher risk of overdose and other serious side effects.

Gabapentin works differently from opioids and does not produce the same euphoria or respiratory depression that can lead to overdose. Gabapentin also has a lower risk of causing physical dependence, although some people may develop a tolerance to the medication over time.

While gabapentin is not without side effects, they tend to be less severe and less common than those associated with opioids. Common side effects of gabapentin include drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea, although these side effects diminish over time as the body adjusts to the medication.

That being said, it is important to note that gabapentin is ineffective for all types of pain and may not be the best option for everyone. Working with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific needs is important.

What Are the Side Effects of Gabapentin Abuse?

Gabapentin abuse can lead to several side effects, some of which can be serious. The risks and severity of side effects can vary depending on the amount and frequency of use, the individual’s overall health, and whether the medication is combined with other substances.

Common side effects of gabapentin abuse include drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.

Other side effects may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Unsteadiness or loss of coordination.
  • Memory problems.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Depression.
  • Mood swings.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior.

In addition to these side effects, gabapentin abuse can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, tremors, and seizures.

Gabapentin Use & the Potential for Mental Health Issues

Gabapentin use has been associated with the potential for mental health issues, although the extent and severity of these issues can vary widely depending on individual factors and circumstances.

Some studies have suggested that gabapentin use may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior, particularly in people with a history of depression or other mental health conditions. Other studies have suggested that gabapentin use may be associated with an increased risk of mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

In addition to these risks, gabapentin use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, agitation, confusion, and sleep disturbances.

Can You Overdose From Gabapentin Misuse?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on gabapentin if the medication is misused or taken excessively. Gabapentin overdose can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening, and the risk of overdose increases if the medication is combined with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids.

Symptoms of gabapentin overdose may include:

  • Seizures.
  • Drowsiness or sedation.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Unsteady gait or loss of coordination.
  • Tremors or shaking.
  • Respiratory depression (slow, shallow breathing).

In severe cases, gabapentin overdose can lead to coma or death. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a gabapentin overdose.

Gabapentin Dependence Withdrawal Symptoms, Signs, & Side Effects

Gabapentin dependence can develop when the medication is used regularly over time, and it can lead to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued, or the dosage is reduced. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms associated with gabapentin dependence may include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability or agitation.
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Headaches.
  • Sweating or chills.
  • Muscle pain or weakness.
  • Seizures (in rare cases).

Withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity and duration depending on several factors, including the length and frequency of gabapentin use, the dosage used, and the individual’s overall health. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be severe or even life-threatening, especially if the medication is stopped abruptly or without medical supervision.

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At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to providing our clients with a comprehensive program of medical detox that focuses on much more than physical stabilization. In addition to emphasizing physical recovery, we tackle mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While prioritizing a safe and pain-free cocaine withdrawal, we offer individualgroup, and family therapy sessions, case management services, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.

Contact us today if you or your loved one is ready to begin an entirely new way of life and commit to long-term recovery. As soon as you call, we start developing a plan of action that begins with an initial pre-assessment. This assessment helps us determine the most appropriate level of care for each unique case. We identify potential coverage options if our medically monitored detox program is a good fit. We work closely with most major regional and national insurance providers. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation insurance benefit check.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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