Is Gabapentin Addictive and Other Important Facts

Gabapentin is used to treat seizures and nerve pain, but its withdrawal symptoms make it highly addictive.

Gabapentin Side effects

Table of Contents

Medications are made to improve health conditions, but sometimes they can become addictive, which is often the case with pain relievers. People enjoy their soothing effects, so much so, that they begin taking them recreationally.

Gabapentin is nerve pain and anticonvulsant medication that has become addictive for many people. Read on to find out more about gabapentin addiction the precautions you need to take when using this drug.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a type of medication used with other drugs to prevent seizures. It may also be prescribed for nerve pain and is said to treat symptoms of shingles. It is in the drug class of gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs.

Generic Names

Gabapentin is the drug’s generic name. It can also be purchased under the brand names Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin, and Gabarone.

What are Gabapentin Side Effects?

Gabapentin may produce side effects including the following:

Short-Term Side Effects

The following short-term effects generally do not require medical attention. They include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Hoarseness of the throat
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Loss of strength
  • Pain in the side or lower back
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
Long-Term Gabapentin Side Effects

When gabapentin is taken for a longer amount of time it can produce side effects including:

  • Memory loss
  • Weakened muscles
  • Respiratory failure
 

Gabapentin can also cause toxicity in people with preexisting kidney disease.

The Dangers of Gabapentin Abuse

Gabapentin Overdose

Fortunately, it is rare for people to overdose on gabapentin. Studies have shown that even people who have taken high levels of the drug have experienced only mild to moderate mental and physical side effects that were not considered life-threatening.1
Furthermore, there have only been two case reports of death tied with gabapentin use.2

However, the drug has been linked to suicide attempts. It should also not be taken in large amounts. Although a gabapentin overdose is unlikely, it is critical to be familiar with the symptoms if you or a loved one is taking it. These include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Sedation
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Muscle weakness
  • Overall slowing down of the body’s systems
 

Gabapentin produces these symptoms because it was designed to reduce misfiring in the brain that causes seizures.

Gabapentin Withdrawal

One of the reasons gabapentin addiction is so prevalent is that the drug produces severe withdrawal symptoms when it is not being taken. During withdrawal, the body is trying to adjust to not having the drug in its system.

People who experience gabapentin withdrawal symptoms know that they will be unable to ‘cure’ these symptoms unless they take more of the drug, which causes them to continue a cycle of dependence.

Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Irritability
 

What’s more, people who take gabapentin to treat seizures and suddenly stop taking it may experience a rebound in symptoms that may be more severe than they were originally.

What Does Gabapentin Treat?

Gabapentin is most used to treat epilepsy by reducing seizures. It may also be prescribed to relieve nerve pain associated with diabetes, shingles, and injuries. Some may also take it for migraine headaches.3

Is it Safe to Take Gabapentin?

It is generally safe to take gabapentin because it rarely leads to an overdose and, while it does produce side effects, these are also uncommon.

However, gabapentin withdrawal makes for gabapentin addiction so people must be careful when weaning off the drug. It can also increase seizures in people using it to treat epilepsy if usage is stopped immediately.

Gabapentin may also be dangerous if:

  • You are under six years old
  • You have had an allergic reaction to gabapentin and other medications
  • You are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant
  • You have ever abused a medication
  • You are on a sodium or potassium restricted diet
  • You have a kidney health issue

Gabapentin Interactions with Other Drugs

Gabapentin can also be harmful if it is used with other drugs. Here are some examples of the drugs it can interact with.

Gabapentin and Painkillers

Studies have shown that taking gabapentin with opioid painkillers increases the risk of death.4 Research shows that both drugs have the potential to suppress breathing. Gabapentin can also increase the absorption of opioids, making for a more powerful effect on the body.

A study at the University of Toronto focused on 1256 opioid users who died of opioid-related causes. It compared their cases with other opioid users who did not die opioid-related deaths. It showed that 12.3% of the users who died of opioid-related deaths were prescribed gabapentin within a 120-day window before their death.

Gabapentin and Weight Loss Medication

No interactions were found between gabapentin and Orlistat or other weight loss medications.5 However, that does not mean they do not exist.

Additionally, Gabapentin has been known to increase weight gain. If you are taking it and have experienced weight gain and are thinking of taking weight loss medication to counter the effects, speak to a doctor before doing so.

Gabapentin and Antidepressants

Studies have shown that using gabapentin with antidepressants may be harmful.6
Zoloft (sertraline) has been looked at specifically.

Sertraline has been known to bring blood sodium levels down to the point where they become dangerously low. Gabapentin can increase this risk. Sertraline has also been known to increase the risk of seizures so it may reduce Gabapentin’s effects for those who take it for epilepsy. It is best to speak to a doctor if you are planning on taking both together.

Gabapentin and Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics and antiseizure medications are often taken together. However, there is always the risk of interactions when combining these drugs.

In terms of Gabapentin, studies have shown that it may specifically cause an adverse reaction when taking with Zyprexa (olanzapine). Some people have experienced symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and drowsiness when taking the two together. Elderly patients were especially likely to have gabapentin side effects such as difficulty thinking and judgment and motor coordination issues.

Gabapentin Addiction Treatment

Gabapentin addiction potential means that it is essential to get help if you feel you are growing dependent on the drug. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome dependence issues. While various methods can be used, a rehab facility may be the most effective.

Patients that check into a facility for gabapentin addiction may receive inpatient and outpatient treatment as follows.

Inpatient Treatment

The most important part of inpatient treatment for Gabapentin abuse may be detox, which is the time when patients are made to allow toxins to be eliminated from the body. It is also the time when they will feel the acute effects of Gabapentin withdrawal that make them likely to relapse.

Fortunately, there is an effective Gabapentin withdrawal treatment for Gabapentin abuse. Patients are supervised by a caring staff member that oversees the process to make sure patients do not relapse. They provide medications to reduce Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms to make them as comfortable as possible during this difficult time.

Once patients complete detox, they move on to therapy. Various therapies can be used, and a good treatment center will find a plan that is customized for everyone. Ultimately, the goal will be to find the underlying cause of Gabapentin addiction and determine the best coping mechanisms to reduce dependent behaviors.

Outpatient Treatment

After patients check out of rehab, they may be faced with the biggest challenge of all. They may fall back with the old crowd they used, and they will deal with several other stressors that make them want to use.

The right facility will provide an outpatient treatment plan to provide the support they need to continue to fight Gabapentin addiction potential and maintain a sober living.

How Blueprints for Recovery Can Help You Overcome Gabapentin Addiction Potential

Blueprints for Recovery provides terrific inpatient and outpatient treatment and takes it to the next level with our three-phase approach.

The first phase is the residential phase. At this point, patients go through detox and are then provided with a customized therapy treatment that targets underlying problems and helps them overcome Gabapentin addiction.

The second phase is the transitional phase. During this stage, residents are gradually introduced back into the ‘real world’. They begin integrating normal activities with thirty hours a week of therapy, so they have the support they need to deal with stressors.

The final phase is the launch phase. This is when patients go back to their jobs and families knowing they have the support they need when they need it.

Gabapentin addiction is not fun. It can ruin relationships; it can cause legal issues and it can make you lose your job. Do not let it take over your life. Blueprints for Recovery has caring agents standing by ready to help you leave dependence behind. Call us today and take the first step on the path to becoming a happier, healthier you.

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

Related Content