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.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATC) and a member of CAADE (California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators). Over the last 7 years Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.