Is Gabapentin Addictive? And Other Important Facts
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription medication used to treat seizure disorders and specific types of nerve pain. Gabapentin or Neurontin is an anticonvulsant, meaning it reduces convulsion or seizure activity. Research has yet to pinpoint precisely how Gabapentin works. Some studies suggest that it may alter calcium levels in seizure patients, reducing susceptibility to seizure activity. For nerve pain, it may reduce or inhibit pain sensitivity.1
How Does Gabapentin Work?
Gabapentin is used in pain management as a less addictive alternative to opioid medications; however, addiction to Gabapentin can and does occur. Often, those who abuse or misuse Gabapentin mix it with other substances. Unlike opioids, Gabapentin does not interact with the opioid receptors in the brain and is therefore not considered as addictive as opioids. However, it does interact with other receptors on the brain (GABA neurotransmitters), which are responsible for feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Therefore, it is possible to develop a psychological dependence on the effects of the drug.2
Is Gabapentin Addictive?
How Common is Gabapentin Addiction?
When used as directed, Gabapentin itself is not highly addictive. However, in recent years, the number of emergency room admissions involving Gabapentin used for “off-label” purposes has piqued the concern of medical professionals.
One report by the Drug Abuse Warning Network suggests ER visits in the United States involving nonmedical Gabapentin use have increased by 90% since 2008.4 A report released by the National Institutes of Health indicated that in 2019, a study on 250 former inmates with substance use disorders found that 16% reported Gabapentin misuse.5 It is also used to cut—or dilute–heroin, further increasing abuse risk.6
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Gabapentin Addiction?
Recognizing the signs of potential Gabapentin abuse can help allow you to know when a friend or loved one is in need of help. Signs of Gabapentin substance abuse can include:
- Changes in social habits and/or circles.
- Failed attempts to quit.
- Unease at the thought of the drug not being available.
- Changes in personal hygiene and grooming habits.
- Lying about or exaggerating symptoms to doctors.
- Refusal to quit regardless of known social, financial, or legal consequences.
- Seeking out multiple doctors to get additional prescriptions for the drug.
Symptoms of Gabapentin Overdose and Withdrawal
Signs of Gabapentin Overdose
- Double vision
- Difficulty breathing
- Slurred speech
- Notable sedation
- Lack of muscle coordination
Symptoms of Gabapentin Withdrawal
- Body aches and pains
- Difficulty sleeping
Factors that Influence Severity and Duration of Gabapentin Withdrawal
- Whether Gabapentin was used for recreational or medical purposes.
- Frequency of use and the dosages taken.
- If any other drugs were abused simultaneously.
- Individual factors like age, overall health, lifestyle, mental health, genetics, etc.
Detox and Treatment for Gabapentin Addiction
If you are ready to quit Gabapentin, seeking help at a qualified addiction treatment program is essential. If Gabapentin was prescribed for seizures, abruptly stopping can increase the risk of seizures which can be life-threatening. Most treatment programs will begin with detox. Gabapentin detox allows you to slowly wean off the medication while under medical supervision and support to reduce the risks of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Concise Recovery: A Pivotal Step in Your Recovery Journey
If you struggle with addiction or a co-occurring disorder, consider residential treatment at an inpatient center like Concise Recovery. Inpatient treatment provides support on a continual, 24-hour-a-day basis. During treatment you will participate in therapy programs to help you learn about your addiction and how to maintain lasting sobriety after treatment.
During and after treatment you may attend peer support groups such as 12-step support group meetings. Support groups are a vital part of lasting recovery. By helping you to develop and maintain a network of sober, like-minded peers to learn from and lean on when you need extra help or are faced with powerful relapse triggers, support groups can play a crucial role in sustained sobriety.
Pursue Wellness Today
Contacting a qualified treatment center, like Concise Recovery, to learn more about detox and addiction therapy is an effective first step towards addiction recovery. Let our experienced and caring staff help you begin your journey towards sobriety. Contact our admissions team today for more information.