Gabapentin and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination

gabapentin and alcohol addiction

Gabapentin, also available under the brand name Neurontin, is a commonly prescribed anticonvulsant medication. But despite its medical uses, this medication has quickly become a commonly abused recreational drug. Further, combining gabapentin and alcohol can have serious side effects, some of which could be life-threatening. If you are struggling with prescription drugs and an alcohol use disorder, seeking treatment may be the best way to overcome your addiction and get the help you need to recover.

What Is Gabapentin Used For?

What Is Gabapentin Used For

Currently, there are only two FDA-approved uses for gabapentin, and alcohol combination is strongly discouraged. People use Gabapentin to treat nerve pain and reduce seizures. However, gabapentin is widely prescribed for off-label uses. This includes treating anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and other issues that the FDA has not approved it for.

Although it’s not listed as a controlled substance, gabapentin is frequently abused. There is limited data on the prevalence of gabapentin misuse, but a study looking at people in substance use treatment showed that 22% had abused gabapentin. For many of these individuals, that included abusing gabapentin and alcohol together. In the general population, the percentage of people who misuse gabapentin is estimated to be one percent.

Why Do People Combine Gabapentin and Alcohol?

There are several reasons gabapentin is abused, both with other substances and by itself. One major contributor is that this medication is widely available and is prescribed for all manner of illnesses. Since it is not a controlled substance, it is relatively easy to obtain. People often mix it with alcohol because taking gabapentin and alcohol can make the effect of both substances feel stronger. And notbaly, mixing gabapentin and alcohol can produce feelings of euphoria and dissociation when taken in high doses.

Gabapentin and alcohol also see frequent use for self-medication. People suffering from mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, or trauma might use gabapentin to manage their mental health symptoms. But using any prescription drug to cope with stress puts you at an increased risk for addiction, and gabapentin is no exception.

Side Effects of Gabapentin and Alcohol

Abusing gabapentin comes with significant risks, particularly when combined with alcohol. Part of the danger of mixing gabapentin and alcohol is their similar side effect profiles. While generally safe when taken as prescribed, common side effects of gabapentin include:

  • Unsteadiness or clumsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired motor function
  • Blurred vision
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nausea

Severe side effects of gabapentin include difficulty breathing and seizures.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol works as a central nervous system depressant. This means it slows the body’s automatic, life-preserving functions. Further, the negative effects of alcohol overlap significantly with the side effects of gabapentin. Some of the short-term effects of alcohol use include:

  • Unsteadiness or clumsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired motor function
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Slowed breathing

As you can see, the effects of gabapentin and alcohol are very similar. As such, gabapentin comes with a warning to avoid alcohol.

Mixing Alcohol and Gabapentin

Drinking alcohol while taking gabapentin can produce dangerous effects. In 2019, the FDA published a specific warning about the use of gabapentin in combination with central nervous system depressants. When combined with alcohol, gabapentin can cause significant breathing problems. This can lead to overdose and is often fatal.

In addition, the side effects of gabapentin can compound with the short-term effects of alcohol. It can make symptoms such as unsteadiness and blurred vision worse and puts people at risk for serious accidents.

Despite these warnings, gabapentin and alcohol are frequently used together. Since they both produce a similar effect when abused, people will often combine them to create a stronger effect. In addition, gabapentin is often combined with other central nervous system depressants, such as opioids or benzodiazepines.

Stopping Alcohol and Gabapentin Abuse

how to stop alcohol and gabapentin abuse

If you are drinking alcohol and taking gabapentin regularly, it could be dangerous to attempt to stop on your own. Gabapentin can have uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, confusion, and disorientation. If you started taking this medication for seizures, stopping gabapentin suddenly makes the risk of seizure much higher.

Alcohol withdrawals can cause life-threatening seizures as well. Further, alcohol withdrawal can lead to shakes, delusions, and hallucinations. People trying to recover from an alcohol use disorder must attend an alcohol and drug detox program to safely make it through this first stage of recovery.

If you’re frequently mixing alcohol and gabapentin, it’s likely that you’ve developed a substance use disorder. Combining these drugs puts your life in danger, and if you are unable to stop on your own, there are treatment programs that can help.

Medical Detox

The first step in stopping addiction is entering a medical detox. Detox programs are designed to help you stop using in a safe and controlled environment. Medical professionals are available 24/7 to ensure your comfort. With targeted medications and therapies, detox programs can make this difficult stage of recovery much more manageable.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

After detoxing from gabapentin and alcohol, starting an addiction treatment program can teach you the skills needed to maintain your recovery. Addiction treatment has several goals. First, it helps you to understand the nature of addiction itself. Second, it teaches you to manage and control cravings. And third, it provides a framework of social support that can sustain your recovery long-term.

For people with a co-occurring mental health disorder, dual diagnosis treatment is highly recommended. Common co-occurring disorders include anxiety, depression, and trauma. Dual diagnosis programs can treat mental illness and addiction at the same time, improving treatment outcomes for people with co-occurring disorders. If you’ve used gabapentin and alcohol to self-medicate your symptoms, this is the style of treatment with the highest rates of success.

Start Treatment Today at The Blackberry Center

At The Blackberry Center, we understand how difficult addiction can be. Our program was designed to ensure that you have the best chances of recovery, no matter what stage of addiction you’re currently in. With a full medical detox and integrative dual diagnosis treatment, you can learn the skills required to break free from your addiction and start a new life in recovery.

Contact our team today by calling 888-512-9802 our filling out our confidential online form. From the moment you call to the day you discharge, our team will be there to support you in every step of the recovery process. Recovery is possible for everyone—and The Blackberry Center can show you the way.

The post Gabapentin and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination appeared first on The Blackberry Center of Central Florida.

Original Author: The Blackberry Center

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