With the growing opioid epidemic being the Marquis story of the day, it should be noted that there are still other narcotics out there. One of these problematic drugs is Gabapentin, and within the United States, there is a noticeable increase in rates of gabapentin addiction.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a generic drug used as a nerve pain medication and an anticonvulsant. It can only be obtained with a prescription; in 2017 it was one of the most commonly prescribed medications, usually for patients with shingles and seizures. It does interact with alcohol. Some brands of Gabapentin include:
What’s so unusual about a gabapentin addiction is that it is specifically NOT an opioid. It is considered a safe alternative painkiller because of its non-addictive properties. Even more destabilizing is the fact that gabapentin has been approved by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a non-opioid treatment for chronic pain.
As opioid addictions continue to rise, access to them is more restrictive; this causes many doctors to rely heavily on gabapentin prescriptions. However, doctors and pharmacists noticed a trend of early refills on gabapentin. Early refills are typically the first red flag to signal abuse and/or addiction to a prescribed medication. According to a report from NBC News, gabapentin addictions were observed in the states of Kentucky and Ohio. In Ohio, 300 milligrams are sold for the price of 75 cents a pill, so it is a cheap substance to buy.
In Kentucky, gabapentin was first classified as a controlled substance in 2016, when the drug accounted for one-third of the states overdoses. It is now known in Kentucky as a Schedule 5 drug, which means that every time it is purchased it is reported into a prescription-monitoring plan. The hope is that other states will participate in the monitoring plan in an effort to fight the problem.
Effects of Gabapentin Interactions
Since gabapentin itself is non-addictive, it is pretty safe when used alone. Only when interacting with other drugs does gabapentin pose a threat. Instead, it is known as a “potentiate” or a booster; it enhances the effects of any other substances it interacts with. When it is used in combination with alcohol, or with already dangerous drugs like heroin or fentanyl, gabapentin strengthens the high to a lethal degree. According to an article in Tech Times, Gabapentin is also sought out because one of its side effects is sedation.
Causes of Addiction
Ironically, addiction to gabapentin is due to being overly prescribed by doctors in hope of cutting back on prescribing opioids. That backfired, however, as users combined both types to achieve a more enhanced high and now addictions run rampant between both sets of drugs. This could prove injurious to people who actually respond well to gabapentin, as doctors are now more hesitant to prescribe it.
As doctors try to get a handle on this problem, there are plenty of places to begin your own efforts at recovery. If you or someone you know suffers from an addiction of any kind, Ocean Hills Recovery is here to guide you on the path to rehabilitation and healing.