Gabapentin highGabapentin may not be a drug you’re familiar with but it is definitely one that has the attention of many. Known as Neurontin, Gralise, and Horizant as a generic drug, it is used to treat seizures as an anticonvulsant. That is what it is primarily prescribed for. Yet, there are other uses. It is also used to help with anxiety, pain, restless leg syndrome, tremors, hot flashes, and psychiatric issues. Some doctors even prescribe it to treat herpes and pain from shingles. There is another reason though that people use it – and that is to experience a high similar to marijuana. In this article, we will look at a Gabapentin high and what you need to know about this drug.

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a medication that helps with certain issues that vary widely. It is thought that this drug balances electrical impulses in the central nervous system. The reason this is important is that these issues cause pain and discomfort and Gabapentin may alter the calming neurotransmitter in the brain, called GABA – and hence, the drug’s name. It may also work to reduce a contributor to seizures from epilepsy known as glutamate. By slowing the production of this component, it can reduce seizures and help with other painful issues like the aforementioned herpes and shingles pain.

The uses for Gabapentin that are not as an anticonvulsant are called off-label uses. This does not mean that these are not legitimate causes to use the drug, it just means that they are not the original uses it was created for. Your doctor may prescribe it for a number of reasons unrelated to seizures or convulsions – and that is perfectly fine. It is simply important to know the side effects, dangers, and potential for abuse – no matter what drug you are taking.

Related medications to Gabapentin include:

  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • Amitriptyline / Chlordiazepoxide (Limbitrol)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Doxepin (Silenor)

What Is It Prescribed For?

Gabapentin may be primarily used to treat convulsions but many times it is prescribed for other uses, including to treat mood disorders and depression.

However, there are quite a few uses that doctors choose to sometimes prescribe it for. These include things like anxiety, pain, restless leg syndrome, tremors, hot flashes, shingles pain, herpes, and psychiatric issues. The uses for Gabapentin are many. In fact, some doctors have prescribed it for those who are addicted to cocaine. While this is a fairly new use that needs plenty of research backing it, this is an example of how versatile this drug is.

Gabapentin is available as an oral solution, tablets, and capsules, and what it does it helps manage symptoms; it doesn’t treat the underlying condition it’s prescribed for. This medication is available in immediate-release and extended-release versions, and it’s usually taken several times a day at evenly spaced times. Low doses are typically prescribed and the dosage may be increased by the doctor as needed.

According to Stat Newsin Ohio, it was the most prescribed medication in December of 2018. This was 9 million doses more than the next popular drug, oxycodone. But this is a widespread issue, not just in Ohio.

Gabapentin’s ability to tackle multiple ailments has helped make it one of the most popular medications in the U.S. In May, it was the fifth-most prescribed drug in the nation, according to GoodRx.

It doesn’t have the same risks as opioids as far as overdoses, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful. Plus, some people may use it to intensify the use of opioids. One study found that 22 percent of opioid-dependent individuals sampled had a Gabapentin prescription, and 40 percent of those who had a Gabapentin prescription reported using more Gabapentin than prescribed.

Why Do People Take It Recreationally?

There are many reasons why someone might take this drug recreationally. It is the same as for any drug and the causes range widely. Some people take drugs to fulfill something missing in their life. They may take them to feel numb or to fit in with others. Some are experimenting and some simply get hooked on a drug after being prescribed it legitimately through their doctor. So, why Gabapentin? What makes it desirable and something that people abuse? Especially when there is so much information on the dangers of drug abuse, why do people do it? But specifically, why do people abuse Gabapentin?

First of all, Gabapentin is not an opioid even though it is sometimes thought of as such. While it does cause sedation and it does help relieve pain, it is not a narcotic. This does not mean it is risk-free.

Some people enjoy the sedation felt at high doses and the euphoria it can create is similar to what is felt when taking marijuana. The user of this drug may feel more confident, more euphoric, and have a sense of calm and serenity.

Some users have reported that the high from snorted Gabapentin can be similar to taking a stimulant. It can also enhance the euphoric effects of other drugs, like opiates, and is likely to increase the risks when taken in this way. This is where it can become dangerous, especially when mixed with things like heroin or fentanyl. In fact, mixing Gabapentin with opioids does increase the risk of a fatal overdose.

While Gabapentin is not addictive as a chronic disease, it is a drug that a person can become physically dependent upon. The difference is often confusing. A dependence is physical, where the body feels that it needs the drug. The difference in that and addiction is that there is a change in behavior where there is a physical and mental need for the drug. People who are addicted to a drug may take part in behaviors that are not what someone would usually do. Their focus is the need for the drug. While these are similar, the dependence is physical and the addiction is mental and physical. Both are extremely similar and sometimes hard to differentiate.

With that said, it is not addictive in the traditional sense. Yet a person may feel a dependence for it and this is what makes it more hazardous.

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What Are the Side Effects?

Gabapentin has mental and physical side effects including:

  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Lack of coordination
  • Memory loss
  • Nystagmus (involuntary eye movement)
  • Sleepiness
  • Tremors
  • Viral infections
  • Unsteadiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary problems
  • Eye-rolling
  • Water retention

As well as psychiatric side effects including:

  • Agitation
  • Decreased libido
  • Depersonalization
  • Increased libido
  • Mania
  • Paranoia

All of these are just a sample of the side effects. While it is fairly safe if taken correctly, there are many effects that are possible.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Gabapentin

As mentioned, there are side effects that can happen when taking Gabapentin. These side effects are not too prevalent. Yet, a sudden decrease or stopping the medication abruptly does lead to side effects. These include:

  • Mood swings such as depression, crying, and even suicidal thoughts.
  • Heart palpitations that occur even if the person isn’t doing physical activity.
  • Dizziness that can be extremely severe and interrupt normal activities.
  • Headaches that can be severe or mild depending on the person.
  • Muscle spasms and cramps.
  • Anxiety even when you have not experienced it in the past or being anxious about things that never bothered you before.
  • Convulsions or seizures in people who were taking this drug for relief from seizures.
  • Insomnia that can affect the person’s way of life.
  • Increased pain.
  • Personality changes like agitation and irritability.
  • Excessive sweating and perspiration.
  • Stomach problems like pain, nausea, diarrhea, and changes in the appetite.
  • Coughing fever, fatigue, body aches, and anything related to flu-like symptoms.

It is imperative to stay with the correct dosage the doctor suggests to you. This is based on things like:

  • Your health
  • Your weight
  • Your age
  • The type of Gabapentin
  • The brand of Gabapentin
  • Your kidney function
  • What condition is being treated (examples include shingles pain, restless leg syndrome, seizures, etc)

When Help is Needed

One of the unique things about this drug is that on its own, it isn’t that bad. In fact, it won’t even show up on a drug screening panel. Yet, the issue is that when it is combined with other drugs it has an entirely different potential for harm.

It has caused deaths through other drug interactions yet it is highly prescribed. In fact, out of a population of 321 million people in the United States, an overwhelming 57 million prescriptions were written for this drug. Ironically, it is often used to help treat withdrawal symptoms from opioids since it helps with restless leg syndrome and nerve pain – two side effects commonly seen in patients with withdrawal symptoms from opioids. But with around one percent of the population using it, it does bear discussion and interest.

And since it is not considered a controlled substance, it is easy to get in large quantities – making it easier to abuse.

The problem, or one of them, is that there isn’t an antidote for an overdose. It has been found to have been used as a cutting agent for other drugs too, such as heroin. Some people use it with alcohol too. Any kind of other drug mixed with this one has potential for both abuse and misuse.

Think of it like electricity and water. Each by themselves are fairly harmless under certain conditions and when used correctly. Mix them together and you have a dangerous situation. Bleach and vinegar? Same thing. While these are rudimentary examples, you get the idea. Of course, opioids aren’t water and they’re not harmless but combining them with something like Gabapentin makes it even worse and the potential for overdose is heightened.

We Can Help You Make the Transition

Whatever you need to help you make this transition away from Gabapentin, we can help. Since this drug should never be stopped abruptly, people often need help getting off of it. Yet, it has to be done the right way – a slow, tapering decline is important.

Withdrawal from Gabapentin can a while for a person. This may take weeks or even months depending on how long the medication was used, the dosage, and each person’s individual body physiology. A physician or the staff at a rehabilitation facility can help ease you through the withdrawal process so that you are much more comfortable. Some of the ways they do this are by suggesting effective tapering off schedules, providing you with supplements, or other helpful ways to decrease the debilitating side effects of withdrawal.