Gabapentin is a medication typically used to treat seizures and neuropathic pain. It is also sometimes used as an off-label treatment for anxiety, restless leg syndrome (RLS), and even hot flashes. Gabapentin misuse and gabapentin addiction are a potential risk associated with the use of this prescription medication, especially when it is taken other than prescribed, with other drugs, or without a prescription.
Gabapentin addiction treatment is recommended when psychological dependence as well as physical dependence coupled with withdrawal symptoms have occurred. Gabapentin overdose requires medical attention.
Gabapentin is structurally related to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). However, it does not bind to GABA receptors.
Instead, gabapentin binds to a protein called alpha2-delta in voltage-gated calcium channels. This action reduces the release of excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate and substance P. As a result, gabapentin inhibits pain signals along the nerves.
These are the possible reasons for gabapentin prescriptions:
Gabapentin was originally developed as an anti-seizure medication, specifically as treatment options for epilepsy. It is used to treat epilepsy by reducing the number of seizure episodes by modulating the GABAergic system. Gabapentin is structurally similar to the neurotransmitter GABA and acts on the same receptors. However, gabapentin does not have a direct effect on GABA levels or release.
Relieve Nerve Pain
Gabapentin can also be used to relieve pain from post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is a type of nerve pain that can occur after shingles. This nerve pain is caused by damage to the nerves that results in feeling ongoing burning or shooting pain. Gabapentin works by reducing the abnormal activity of these damaged nerves to treat nerve pain.
Alleviate Restless Leg Syndrome
Additionally, gabapentin can help treat RLS, which is a type of nerve disorder that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. This can lead to discomfort and difficulty falling asleep.
However, no conclusive studies have been conducted to determine exactly how gabapentin alleviates restless leg syndrome. One possible theory is that it works by calming down the overactive nerve cells that are causing the syndrome.
Opioid Alternative Gabapentin
Gabapentin addiction according to addiction specialists is becoming commonplace. Used in treating addiction and alcoholism as well as the conditions mentioned above, the opioid alternative gabapentin has become part of the opioid epidemic.
Misusing prescription medications, seeking extra doses, switching doctors, are all part of the system commonly abused by people who use heroin seeking a miracle drug or for the prescription drug user needing medication options for exaggerating symptoms and multiple ailments.
Doctors continue prescribing gabapentin pills and gabapentin capsules as a prescription painkiller. The brand name Neurontin, is considered a less addictive alternative to opioids.
Gabapentin Side Effects
Take note that your doctor will only prescribe gabapentin if the benefits outweigh the side effects, such as:
Gabapentin can cause drowsiness since it is a sedative. This can be useful for some people who need help falling asleep, but it can also be a detriment if you work or drive during the day. If you do experience drowsiness, it’s best not to operate heavy machinery or drive until you know how the medication affects you.
Aside from drowsiness, some people may also experience dizziness as a side effect of gabapentin. Dizziness is a sensation of lightheadedness or feeling off-balance. It can be accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and headache.
Abuse of this medication can cause a person to lose coordination. This means that they may stagger when they walk, have trouble with fine motor skills, and feel unsteady on their feet.
In connection to drowsiness, gabapentin may lead to feelings of tiredness and a general lack of energy. This may be more pronounced in the first week or two of treatment. It’s important to take note of how you feel while taking gabapentin and report any significant changes to your doctor.
Blurred or double vision may occur during treatment with gabapentin. This effect may be more pronounced in children. Additionally, you may experience unusual eye movements, such as slow or jerky eye movements.
Some patients may also experience tremors and seizures as a result of taking gabapentin since it is a central nervous system depressant. These side effects can be serious and even life-threatening, so patients should be monitored closely if they are taking this medication.
Some gabapentin precautions to remember:
Before taking gabapentin, your doctor should know if you have ever had an allergic reaction to this medication or any other medications. This type of medication may have inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other physical and mental problems.
If you have problems with your kidneys, it’s important to let your doctor know before you take gabapentin. They may need to lower your dose or monitor you more carefully for side effects to avoid exacerbating your health condition.
Depression is also a factor to watch out for before taking gabapentin. If patients have a history of depression, they may be more likely to experience suicidal thoughts or actions while taking the medication. Therefore, gabapentin should not be taken by anyone with a history of suicide attempts or self-injury.
This medication can also cause serious problems with your breathing, especially if you have certain medical conditions. If you have myasthenia gravis (a condition in which the muscles become weak and tired easily), gabapentin may make your symptoms worse.
History of Drug Abuse
Having a history of drug use or a substance abuse is critical to understanding the potential for abuse with gabapentin. Substance use disorder is defined as a diagnosable condition characterized by problematic patterns of using a substance that can lead to significant impairment or distress.
Substance Abuse and Addiction
The use of gabapentin also entails the risk of abuse and addiction. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, gabapentin seems to work in a similar way to other addictive drugs. That is, gabapentin use can cause changes in the brain that make it difficult to stop taking the drug.
It is a Schedule V controlled substance, meaning that it still has a potential for abuse. People who abuse gabapentin may start to feel they need drugs to function normally. They may also develop a tolerance, meaning they need to take larger and larger doses to get the same effect, which poses the risk of gabapentin overdose.
Gabapentin addiction, like other addictions, can be seen by the inability to stop using controlled substances despite social, financial, or legal consequences. Failed attempts to quit the drug cause a cyclical pattern that leads to despair.
Lastly, withdrawal symptoms after stopping all use of a drug is an indication of addiction.
Entering treatment willingly allows a person to gain acceptance simply because they asked for help. There are many that misuse gabapentin and other substances that find themselves needing a drug program after multiple doctors refuse to write prescriptions and a person who swore they would never abuse an illicit drug, starts to seek muscle relaxants, anti anxiety medications, and prescription medications on the streets.
Here are the possible reasons that people abuse and become addicted to gabapentin:
Some people abuse prescribed gabapentin to get high. This controlled substance can cause a feeling of euphoria, which is similar to the feeling that some people experience when they take opioids. The difference is that gabapentin isn’t as potent as opioids, so it doesn’t produce the same level of high.
Some people use gabapentin recreationally because it produces feelings of calmness and relaxation. It inhibits the release of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is responsible for calming nerves. Therefore, when levels of GABA are increased, people feel more relaxed.
Some people also report that the drug makes them feel very sedated. This can be a desirable effect for some people, particularly those with anxiety disorders. However, it can also lead to abuse and addiction.
Gabapentin is also sometimes used as a mood stabilizer. Gabapentin abuse refers to using the drug for non-medical reasons, often in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
Using the pills as a way to get high, people can crush and snort gabapentin or mix the powder with water and inject it.
Abusing the prescription by taking a larger dose, or more frequently than a doctor has prescribed is definitely abuse of medication. There are those who will take another persons medication to achieve euphoria.
Gabapentin intoxication can cause slurred speech, drowsiness, impaired coordination, and nystagmus (rapid eye movements). Gabapentin may also cause delusions, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.
Another possible effect that people who abuse gabapentin may crave is dissociation. This is a mental state in which a person feels disconnected from their surroundings and themselves. It can produce feelings of euphoria and disconnection from reality. People who abuse gabapentin may take it to achieve this feeling.
Reduced inhibition is a hallmark symptom of addiction. It is characterized by a decreased ability to control one’s impulses, behaviors, and emotions. This can lead to risky or harmful behaviors.
Gabapentin abuse may result in reduced inhibition. This can lead to impulsive decisions, such as using drugs or alcohol, engaging in unsafe sex, or driving while intoxicated.
If you or someone you know is struggling with gabapentin addiction, it’s important to know that there are gabapentin withdrawal symptoms in case they suddenly stop taking the drug, such as:
Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, worry, or fear. Those who are addicted to gabapentin may experience anxiety as a result of withdrawal. Gabapentin is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, and when it is stopped suddenly, the brain cannot adjust immediately. This can lead to feelings of anxiety or panic.
This may manifest as:
- Excessive worry
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty in concentration
Insomnia or difficulty sleeping is another common withdrawal symptom associated with gabapentin. This may be due to the fact that gabapentin is a CNS depressant.
When someone suddenly stops taking this medication, their body can overcompensate by becoming more aroused and alert. This can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Along with insomnia, people may also experience vivid dreams or nightmares during withdrawal from gabapentin.
Disorientation is also common during withdrawal from gabapentin. This can manifest as feeling confused and not knowing where you are or what day it is. You may also experience memory problems and have difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can make it hard to function in your everyday life.
Similar to disorientation, confusion is a state of mental unclearness. You may feel as if you’re in a dream or that your surroundings are unreal. This symptom can be accompanied by memory problems and difficulty concentrating, which can affect one’s performance at work.
The patient may also feel physical pain during gabapentin withdrawal. This pain can manifest as headaches, body aches, and stomach cramps. The patient may even experience flu-like symptoms, such as a fever or chills, due to the sudden change in body chemistry.
Nausea is also a common symptom of gabapentin withdrawal. The patient may experience an upset stomach, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Nausea can lead to dehydration, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids.
Sweating is a natural way of cooling itself and getting rid of excess water. However, when a person sweats excessively, it can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. Sweating is a common symptom of gabapentin withdrawal that can occur when someone suddenly stops taking the medication.
While sweating because of gabapentin withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, it can lead to dehydration if not managed properly. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and avoid strenuous activity if you are experiencing this symptom.
Some people may experience a rapid heartbeat when they suddenly stop taking gabapentin. This is especially common if the person has been taking high doses of the drug for a long time.
This may be due to the fact that gabapentin slows down the central nervous system. When the drug is suddenly stopped, the body may have difficulty readjusting and this can lead to an accelerated heartbeat.
Since gabapentin is used to treat epileptic seizures, it is not surprising that one of the most common withdrawal symptoms is seizure activity. People who have been taking gabapentin for a long time may experience withdrawal seizures if they suddenly stop taking the drug.
Seizure activity can be very dangerous, and it is important to seek medical help if you or someone you know experiences this symptom while withdrawing from gabapentin.
Get the Right Help at Turning Point of Tampa
Turning Point of Tampa understands substance abuse and alcoholism. If you or someone you know is struggling with gabapentin misuse, abuse, or addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. This drug can be very dangerous, and the longer someone uses it, the greater the risk of developing serious health problems.