What is Gabapentin? Is It Addictive?

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Gabapentin, also known by its brand name as Neurontin, is a prescription painkiller with anti-convulsive properties. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved the use of gabapentin for the treatment of epileptic disorders and neuropathic pain. It is a relatively new drug, as Neurontin was introduced in 1993 and its generic version (gabapentin) was introduces in 2004. Medical professionals most frequently prescribe gabapentin as treatment for epilepsy, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, seizures, neuropathic pain, and/ or hot flashes. It is also used to help treat nerve pain and discomforts associated with cocaine and/ or alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Its chemical makeup is known to have less addictive qualities than opioid medications used to treat similar ailments. It is, however, still possible for an individual to abuse gabapentin and go on to develop an addiction to gabapentin. 

Signs and Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms that can develop when an individual is struggling with gabapentin abuse. The following are examples provided by the Mayo Clinic of signs and symptoms exhibited by an individual abusing gabapentin:

  • Unusual eye movements
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Double vision
  • Loss of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Swelling 
  • Muscle tissue breakdown
  • Insomnia 

Every individual is different and will likely experience a unique combination of the above examples, with varying durations and severities. It is essential to note that although the potential for developing an addiction to gabapentin is relatively low compared to other substances, an individual that habitually abuses gabapentin can become addicted to the substance. Research has found that individuals addicted to gabapentin are at an increased risk of lethal overdose.

Detox From Gabapentin

Any individual that is in need of treatment for gabapentin abuse or addiction must first go through detox. Detox is the process of ridding one’s body of abused substances. There are a variety of detox methods with a wide range of support. Individuals that are detoxing from gabapentin are encouraged to undergo a detox method with the maximum amount of support, including medical supervision. Stopping gabapentin abruptly can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and dangerous side effects. Hence, individuals will likely be advised to taper off gabapentin. Tapering off a medication is when the prescribing medical professional slowly decreases the dosage of the medication that an individual is taking over time. This is the safest method for an individual detoxing from gabapentin, but will elongate the duration of his or her detox process. Tapering off the substance will allow one’s body to slowly acclimate to the reduced amount of medication present in his or her system and can lessen some of the discomforts of the detox process. 

Treatment

After the detox process is successfully completed, an individual should continue his or her treatment process by attending a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. Substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs are divided between outpatient treatment options and inpatient treatment options. Inpatient treatment programs require an individual to reside at the treatment facility for the duration of his or her program. This can provide a fully immersive substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment experience. Inpatient treatment programs are an excellent option for individuals struggling with a severe addiction and/ or are able to reside away from home for a certain period of time. Individuals that have other commitments that prohibit them from living away from home can attend an outpatient treatment program. Outpatient treatment programs enable an individual to continue to reside at home while attending a certain number of programs hours, daily. Outpatient treatment programs can last anywhere from fourteen days long to three months long, and in some cases longer. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.  

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