It is a known fact that mixing alcohol with most drugs can result in various adverse consequences. Consuming certain substances may positively influence the effectivity of a drug. However, it is also possible that these will impair the drug’s efficacy or even enhance its known side effects.
Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic medication, meaning it is taken to prevent seizures by affecting our brain’s chemicals and nerves responsible for it. Later on, it was also used to ease neuropathic pain (nerve pain) caused by herpes or shingles. (1)
While proven effective, they come with side effects. On the other hand, alcohol has a varied range of effects depending on consumption level and alcohol tolerance. The unpredictability of alcohol along with the side effects of Gabapentin can endanger its taker.
How Does Alcohol Affect The Brain?
The active ingredient in your favorite drinks such as wine and beer is Ethanol, the most common form of alcohol. Once it passes the liver through the bloodstream, the remaining molecules of alcohol will alter the brain chemistry.
The general public recognizes alcohol as a depressant, but it also acts as a stimulant in indirect ways. At first, it increases the amount of dopamine in our brain. Dopamine is the chemical our brain releases when we are enjoying what is considered a pleasurable activity.
This explains its popularity in social gatherings, as well as the sudden extroversion of people who have consumed it. However, the feeling of euphoria doesn’t last for long.
Alcohol also suppresses excitatory transmitters while increasing the effects of inhibitory transmitters. This dangerous combination acts as a depressant, further suppressing your bodily and mental limitations. (2)
How Does Gabapentin Affect The Brain?
Gabapentin treats or prevents the onset of seizures and nerve pain. There are some variations of it that can even treat restless leg syndrome. However, aside from the risk of allergic reactions, one must look out for some red flags before using this drug.
There are recorded instances that people had suicidal thoughts while taking this medicine. That is the reason you must inform your doctor if you ever had a history of depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, and mood disorder before taking this medicine. (3)
Side Effects Of Taking Gabapentin With Alcohol
One of the side effects of Gabapentin is depression. Alcohol also shares this side effect with Gabapentin. Thus, taking Gabapentin and alcohol at the same time can double its depressant effects which can result in life-threatening situations. (4)
Some of the side effects of alcohol and Gabapentin combination are listed below:
- Impaired thinking and reaction time: Alcohol or Gabapentin may hinder you from proceeding with your daily activities and exercises. Mixing those two is sure to impair your bodily and mental functions further.
- Depression and suicidal thoughts or actions: There have been reports of individuals taking alcohol alongside Gabapentin. The reason is that they believe that doing so will enhance the stimulant effects of alcohol. However, contrary to popular belief, alcohol is a depressant. Thus, it may encourage suicidal thoughts after a certain amount of alcohol intake. Without the full use of cerebral cortex, the already-present suicidal thoughts because of Gabapentin may make more sense.
- Increased Side effects: Taking Gabapentin alone can cause various types of side effects. Taking Gabapentin with alcohol will amplify these side effects due to their interactions. Some of these side effects may include dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea.
Physicians warn people from mixing Gabapentin and alcohol together. If a person you know exhibits any of these symptoms while they are under the influence of Gabapentin, immediately contact your nearest medical provider.