Gabapentin Abuse: Sign and Symptoms of This Addiction

gabapentin abuse

Not a commonly known substance for abuse, gabapentin is starting to make waves for just that. Learn more about this prescription drug and how many are finding they need detox treatment from it. 

Gabapentin Abuse: The Facts

Gabapentin is a capsule commonly administered orally and is available as both a generic and brand-name drug called Neurontin. It is available as an immediate-release tablet or as an extended-release tablet as well as an oral solution.

Gabapentin is a prescription drug. It’s considered an anticonvulsant drug that is commonly used to treat epilepsy in adults and children. Now Gabapentin is being abused by people of all ages. It is prescribed to treat various other conditions such as nerve pain as a result of shingles infection, fibromyalgia, restless legs syndrome, essential tremors, and even alcoholism. Some doctors also prescribe it for anxiety, insomnia, hot flashes and migraines, It is often used as a less addictive alternative to opioids.

Gabapentin acts on the brain by increasing activity at receptors for the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It is through its ability to increase GABA signaling, thereby increasing inhibition of brain activity, that it produces a drowsy or calming effect.

 Gabapentin Uses

  • Seizures
  • Nerve pain
  • Shingles
  • Herpes zoster infection
  • Alcoholism
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Essential Tremors

Gabapentin: Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

Although Gabapentin is not in the drug class of opioids and is not on the list of controlled substances in all states. But, prolonged use and/or abuse of Gabapentin can result in dependency, abuse, and addiction in many patients. The drug’s effects produce feelings such as calmness, relaxation, euphoria, and a high similar to the effects of marijuana. 

Gabapentin can have potentially harmful side effects when combined with opioids. Gabapentin has now become a drug of abuse and addiction, and this is an alarming fact. Gabapentin is fast becoming the go-to drug for addicts in search of a stronger “high” making already dangerous drugs like fentanyl or heroin even more deadly. Gabapentin even has street names now and is commonly known by “gabbies” and “johnnies”.

Gabapentin abuse means that the drug is being used other than what it is prescribed for. Examples of gabapentin abuse would include taking it without a prescription, taking it more frequently or taking higher doses than prescribed by a physician. Gabapentin taken with other substances can lead to a polysubstance addiction that requires professional treatment.

Gabapentin: Polysubstance Abuse and its Dangers 

Gabapentin is beneficial to many who have legitimate conditions that require its use. There are some, however, who abuse the drug and become addicted. Most abuse of Gabapentin is in conjunction with other substances such as opiates or even alcohol. Polysubstance abuse occurs when two or more drugs are abused together. Most involve alcohol and illegal drugs, the most widely used being cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. However, prescription drugs can be mixed with other drugs as well as creating a dangerous and lethal combination. Gabapentin is used to enhance or heighten the effects of a particular drug or to produce a longer-lasting “high.” In addition to cocaine, alcohol, and heroin, certain other drugs may be used in polysubstance abuse.

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Marijuana
  • Inhalants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Amphetamines

Due to the complexity of abusing multiple substances, inpatient care for detoxing may be necessary.

Gabapentin Abuse: Withdrawal and Symptoms 

Long-term use of Gabapentin, even if it is being administered for medical issues and used as prescribed, may develop some type of physical dependence. However, those who misuse it or abuse it recreationally may experience significant levels of dependence and withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit or lower the dosage or frequency.. The time-frame for the onset of withdrawal symptoms varies with the individual and the level of addiction.

Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms may closely resemble those of alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.

This similarity may be due to the fact that gabapentin and these other substances that are abused all act on gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter within the brain.

Timeline & Symptoms of Gabapentin Withdrawal:

  • 12 – 24 hours
    • Anxiety
    • Sweating
    • Headaches
    • Tremors 
    • Seizures
  • 48 – 72 hours
    • Restlessness
    • Confusion
    • Agitation

Because of complications that may arise from the abuse of Gabapentin, in some cases, individuals who are at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms or are already displaying symptoms may require intensive medical detox.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines four phases of treatment. They are:

  • Initiation of treatment
  • Early abstinence
  • Continued abstinence
  • Ongoing recovery

Medical professionals usually recommend gradually smaller doses of Gabapentin to safely and comfortably wean a person off the medication. Such tapering schedules are commonly used with medications like Gabapentin that have the potential to produce adverse withdrawal effects when being discontinued hence the need for one to consider a much safer medical detox at an addiction treatment facility.

Gabapentin abuse can be phased out over a period of one week, but the exact schedule will depend on the person’s particular situation and how much of the drug has been used along with other factors. Slower tapers may allow for safer discontinuation of the drug. Again, this is the reason people withdrawing from any form of substance should seek professional medical assistance, like medical detox, to ensure that the withdrawal is safe and effective. 

Gabapentin Abuse: Seeking Help to Stop Through Medical Detox

No one sets out to be addicted to drugs. Many individuals are unaware that they can get help to stop their gabapentin abuse by seeking a detoxification (detox). Or it could be they are too embarrassed or afraid to even ask for help. A drug detox program helps you free yourself from physical drug dependence do in a safe and comfortable way. In the old days, people had to go through gabapentin detox and withdrawal on their own. This was not only unpleasant but in many cases, unsafe and could potentially be fatal. Thankfully, insurance companies now consider drug abuse and addiction to be a disease, and this has created these types of addiction treatment centers. 

Detox programs were created to help you detox from abuse from opioids and Gabapentin in a medically supervised setting that is welcoming, compassionate, and committed to your recovery. Going to a gabapentin detox program ensures that you will be safe while detoxing. You will also receive emotional support to help keep you positive throughout the process. If you or a loved one is struggling with abuse from Gabapentin, it is important to know that you are not alone. Addiction is a treatable illness. With compassion, professional treatment, and understanding it can be overcome.

When seeking detox through addiction treatment programs for Gabapentin abuse, patient health, safety, comfort, and privacy are priorities to these types of addiction treatment facilities. In addition to safe, effective medically supervised detox protocols, patients can expect to experience a variety of addiction treatment services. Many detox programs offer relaxing holistic treatments. There is also clinical counseling that is based on each individual’s needs. And of course, you can expect nutritious prepared meals. These amenities are crucial to help you focus your main goal of recovery. 

Your privacy is also maintained while going through Gabapentin detox These treatment programs give addicts a real chance by ridding the body of substance abuse and then assisting with a specially designed addiction treatment plan. 

Gabapentin Abuse Detox Programs: Will Your Health Insurance Cover Detox?

Typically the answer is yes. But, most insurance companies require policyholders to choose from an approved medical provider list. Usually, there will be some costs associated with these types of addiction treatment programs like co-pays or cost-share insurance programs. Finding out what kind of health care insurance policy you have or what exactly is covered is important so contacting your insurance agent is one way to determine what you can afford. 

In addition, gabapentin detox programs have medical professionals on staff who are highly trained to assist you while dealing with insurance companies, and they can answer questions about coverage quickly and efficiently and even assist you with getting the approvals.

Coastal Detox is Ready to Provide the Help You Need to Stop Abusing Gabapentin

If you’re looking for freedom from substance use disorder, Coastal Detox can help. Located in beautiful South Florida, we are here to help you fight and win the battle over gabapentin abuse. We have a long-trusted reputation within the addiction treatment industry.

At Coastal Detox, providing individualized care for our clients is the ultimate goal. Every person suffering from the holds of addiction or abuse from Gabapentin can rest assured that their detox program is prepared to provide the best path towards your freedom from gabapentin abuse. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Coastal Detox is located in Martin County, Florida. We will help you along in your recovery journey. For more information regarding our treatments and services, please call Coastal Detox today at (877) 406-6623 to speak with one of their addiction treatment specialists.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/gabapentin-oral-capsu

https://www.rxlist.com › drugs-condition

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404313

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.