Gabapentin is a prescription drug which was created to treat epileptic seizures. Its application has spread to other ailments like postherpic neuralgia, restless leg syndrome, and hot flashes. Some claim that it can be used to treat migraines, and anxiety, however, there are not enough studies or evidence to back up these claims. (1)
The FDA approved it for marketing in December 2013 under the brand name Neurontin. Neurontin was one of Parke-Davis, a Pfizer subsidiary, best-selling drug. However, it went under fire after Parke-Davis went under trial for promoting Neurontin for off-label purposes.
Data have shown that almost 90% of the sales of the drug came from advertising the drug for uses that were not proven or are not on the drug’s packaging. (2)
People believed that anticonvulsants like Gabapentin have incredibly low abuse potentials once. Hence, the government did not classify it alongside other addictive drugs like opiates and narcotics. However, recent studies have found out that more and more people are getting addicted to the drug.
Gabapentin is structured similarly to of one of our brain’s neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. GABA affects our brain in a way that it slows down the electrical impulses that flow within or central nervous system. There have been no studies that were able to conclude how Gabapentin works formally.
The FDA did not categorize Gabapentin as a scheduled substance due to its low abuse potential. However, users have reported that the drug can replicate some of the features of an addictive drug in a way that it can cause withdrawal symptoms and some psychoactive effects.
Some users of Gabapentin have reported that they have felt psychoactive effects such as euphoria, increased sociability, relaxation, and sense of calm. Coupled with the withdrawal symptoms that can be caused by the drug, some users end up becoming dependent on Gabapentin. (3)
Symptoms Of Gabapentin Addiction
Drug addiction occurs when a person becomes physically dependent on a certain substance. This happens mostly because of the drug’s rewarding and reinforcing properties. In Gabapentin’s case, this may be the euphoria, high, or other sensations users report they feel when taking it.
Consult a doctor if you see yourself or someone you love exhibit these following symptoms: (4)
- Increased Dosage: Addiction of often results to a person becoming numb from the effects of the drug. To cope with this, the user would most likely increase his or her daily dosage above what was prescribed by his doctor.
- False Reasoning: Once addicted, the user may lie to get more of the drug. Some examples of this would be saying that they lost their supply, or that dosage given by the doctor is no longer enough.
- Overspending: As the addiction worsens it can be noticed that the individual would start spending a huge chunk of their budget on buying the drug. This can damage a person both mentally and financially.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: Drug addicts who abruptly stop taking their drugs often experience these adverse symptoms. Most of which are not fatal, however, there have been instances where they have been.
Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms
As mentioned above, people who suddenly stop taking a drug they’ve grown accustomed to can result in various withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are the most common reason why drug addicts slide back to their addictions.
Using other medications can help lessen the withdrawal symptoms felt by patients. However, one must take caution as some of these drugs can cause addiction themselves if misused or abused.
- Anxiety: It is a feeling of unease as if something bad is about to happen.
- Nausea: an uncomfortable in the stomach which can urge someone to vomit
- Sweating: excessive sweating often occurs throughout the body.
- Insomnia: inability to sleep or sleep continuously throughout the night.
- Mood swings: the patient may become depressed or have suicidal thoughts during detoxification.
Abusing Gabapentin can increase one’s possibility of a getting addicted to the drug. However, withdrawal symptoms can affect even those without addiction. Individuals who have used the drug for an extended period, even if they follow the doctor’s prescription may still experience it.
Immediately consult a doctor if someone you know shows the signs of addiction.