Gabapentin Addiction

Use this guide to learn about gabapentin and the treatment options for gabapentin addiction.

What Is Gabapentin (Neurontin)?

Gabapentin Addiction

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication used primarily to help control epileptic seizures, restless leg syndrome, and postherpetic neuralgia. Abuse of this substance, however, can lead to gabapentin addiction.

This medication can come in a capsule or tablet form and is typically taken three times a day orally. In many cases, patients are started on a low dose of gabapentin, slowly increasing the dosage over time until the maximum benefit is reached.

Gabapentin does not cure any of the above conditions. Instead, it makes the symptoms more manageable through regular use by maintaining the amount of medication in the bloodstream. For this reason, patients should never increase or decrease the amount they are taking without first consulting their doctor.1

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What Is Gabapentin Prescribed for?

In addition to epilepsy, restless leg syndrome, and postherpetic neuralgia, gabapentin is also occasionally prescribed for diabetic neuropathy and women experiencing severe hot flashes due to breast cancer or menopause.
Gabapentin works by mimicking the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, enabling the medicine to “calm” neurons or nerve cells that are overactive and overfiring.2

How Does Gabapentin Make You Feel?

It has been reported that gabapentin can produce feelings of calmness, relaxation, and euphoria. For some, the effect mimics that of a mild tranquilizer and can offer the same feelings cannabis provides.
Although most people begin taking gabapentin for legitimate medical conditions, it can quickly become a substance that is abused because of the feelings that it produces.3

Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Despite this medication not being classified as an addictive substance in many states, addiction to gabapentin is still possible. Because the drug is relatively new, not enough research has been done to determine what long-term effects it may have or if it could be more addictive than we think.

We know that there has been a significant increase in the number of deaths related to gabapentin abuse and overdoses. In Kentucky alone, 33% of the deaths statewide resulted from a gabapentin overdose.4

Gabapentin Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Gabapentin addiction signs can be broken down into two categories, physical and mental. Among these, the most common and easily recognizable sign of gabapentin addiction is taking increasingly higher doses of the medication to get the same effect they used to get.

This commonly starts when patients take their prescriptions more often than they should or at a higher dosage than prescribed because they like the feeling that it gives them. Over time, they have to keep increasing the amount in an attempt to reach the same euphoric effects, leading to addiction and possible overdose.

Physical Symptoms of Gabapentin Addiction

Gabapentin addiction may cause agitation, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and seizures when the medication starts leaving the body. This may prompt patients to take another dose of the drug to feel better.

Mental Symptoms of Gabapentin Addiction

In addition to the physical symptoms above, gabapentin may cause the following mental side effects:
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coordination problems

Gabapentin Addiction Side Effects

When addiction to gabapentin occurs, it is typically the result of a patient rapidly increasing their dosage as they try to recreate the feelings of numbness, calm, and euphoria that they once received from the medication.

When a person’s body becomes physically dependent on gabapentin, it can become difficult for their body to function normally without it. This typically presents as agitation, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, consuming thoughts about getting the drug, nausea, and sweating.

Gabapentin Addiction Risk

Although gabapentin is not classified as a risk for addiction, it is still possible for the body to become dependent on it. Even if the medication is being taken properly and only as prescribed, a person can become physically dependent on gabapentin when it is being used for a chronic condition.

Recreational use and abuse of this medication usually result in a higher probability of being taken in conjunction with other substances, such as alcohol or another prescription medication. These actions can increase the chance of addiction.

Patients should never stop taking gabapentin at once. Instead, they should work with their medical provider or a detox center to wean themselves off the drug. In addition, if a person has a chronic medical condition, they may have to work with their doctor to find an alternative medication for treatment purposes.

Gabapentin Use and Overdose

Gabapentin Use and Overdose

Gabapentin use and overdose can lead to severe side effects and increased symptoms. In addition, if a patient has been using the medication to monitor a medical condition, there is a high probability that they will experience more symptoms of that condition. For example, those with seizure disorders are likely to have more seizures within twelve hours of their last dosage.

Can You Overdose on Gabapentin?

Gabapentin abuse can lead to an overdose, although the amount needed to overdose is extremely high. Moreover, most gabapentin deaths occur if an individual has mixed this medication with another substance, such as opioids.5

Gabapentin Overdose Symptoms

Gabapentin overdose symptoms can be severe and may be fatal. They include:

  • Coma
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle weakness

Gabapentin Withdrawal Timeline

Gabapentin abuse quickly causes a buildup of the medication in the system, which is what causes the withdrawal symptoms to occur when consumption suddenly stops.
Within twelve hours of the last dose, patients may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, and they could last for up to seven days.

Withdrawal is more common in patients with a history of substance abuse and patients who take more than the recommended dosage.6

Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms

There are a number of common withdrawal symptoms that are associated with an addiction to gabapentin, including:
  • Itching
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Crying spells
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Muscle pain or spasms
The longer a person takes gabapentin, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) Addiction Treatment Options

Gabapentin drug abuse and subsequent gabapentin withdrawal can seriously affect a person’s life. Although there are no specific medications that can help with gabapentin withdrawal, there are steps that can be taken to help patients manage their withdrawal symptoms.

At Concise Recovery, we offer gabapentin addiction treatment. We will help you break your addiction to gabapentin with our state-of-the-art detox treatment facility. Our medical staff will help you manage your symptoms and guide you during and after recovery. Contact Concise Recovery today to begin your road to recovery and improve your quality of life.