Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Is gabapentin addictive? Find out relevant risk factors, symptoms, signs of overdose, and available treatment options for gabapentin misuse.

What is Gabapentin?

Is Gabapentin Addictive
Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a type of medication classified as an anticonvulsant. Gabapentin, sometimes used alongside other medicines, controls seizures in people with epilepsy. Another one of the common uses of gabapentin is for people with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), an intensely painful condition that sometimes happens to people who have had shingles. 1
Someone who takes gabapentin may experience relaxation, calmness, and euphoria. Some people also report stimulant-like side effects. Additionally, gabapentin can enhance the euphoric effects of other drugs, such as opioids. 2

Gabapentin is a prescription-only drug but not a narcotic or controlled substance. However, some states have enacted legislation to monitor the use of the drug by the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

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Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Because gabapentin can produce euphoric effects, you may be wondering: is gabapentin addictive? To some, gabapentin is seen as an alternative to opioids; it can be an addictive substance. Gabapentin is called an “opioid potentiate” because it can increase the high felt with opioid drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and heroin. 3
Though gabapentin is less addictive than opioids, it’s a drug that people often become addicted to when they’re already addicted to other drugs. In a study reporting drug abuse, 15% of respondents reported using gabapentin and other drugs to get high in the last six months. 4
In short: is gabapentin addictive? Yes, it can be.

Gabapentin Side Effects

Gabapentin has a wide range of side effects, some of which can be serious.

Common Gabapentin Side Effects

Some typical gabapentin side effects include:

Severe Gabapentin Side Effects

Other, more serious gabapentin side effects include:

Gabapentin Overdose and Addiction

Gabapentin abuse can be hazardous because those who misuse gabapentin often do so in combination with opioids. This combination of opioids and gabapentin may increase the risk of dying from an overdose, most likely due to depressed breathing. Additionally, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and older adults are at the highest risk of death from this combination.

If you experience any severe side effects, it’s important to contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Statistics Regarding Gabapentin Addiction

A study of people who used gabapentin illegally found that: 5

If you suspect someone is misusing gabapentin, there are some signs to look out for. This person may lie to their doctor about their symptoms to obtain excessive amounts of the drug; they may also switch doctors frequently or see multiple doctors to get more gabapentin prescribed. This person may also exhibit addiction symptoms like changes in hygiene and grooming, withdrawal from family and friends, refusal to quit using the drug despite financial, emotional, and social repercussions, and failed attempts to quit.

Signs of Gabapentin Addiction

Other gabapentin addiction signs include:

Gabapentin Overdose

A recent study found almost 25% of individuals with co-prescriptions of opioids and gabapentin were obtaining more than three times their prescribed amount to satisfy their addiction. Additionally, there is no antidote to an overdose on gabapentin like there is for opioid overdose — immediate medical attention is needed to manage a toxic amount of gabapentin. Knowing this information, it’s crucial to spot a gabapentin overdose or a gabapentin-involved overdose.

Overdose Symptoms

Someone experiencing a gabapentin overdose may exhibit the following symptoms:

Gabapentin Withdrawal and Detox

Gabapentin withdrawal doesn’t happen as frequently as other drug withdrawals, but it can happen.

Research shows that gabapentin withdrawal begins between 12 hours and seven days after the last dose for most people. Most people in a recent study saw withdrawal symptoms within 24 to 48 hours. 6
The most common symptom reported in this study was agitation, occurring in about half of the recorded cases.

Withdrawal Side Effects

Confusion and disorientation are the next two most common symptoms. Other gabapentin withdrawal side effects include:

Coping with Withdrawal

While it may sound counterintuitive, the best treatment for severe gabapentin withdrawal is gabapentin. When individuals resume their usual dose of gabapentin, any dangerous side effects of gabapentin withdrawal should go away.

After resuming their usual dose, individuals should make an appointment with their doctor to discuss motivations for quitting gabapentin. At that point, a medical professional can help to taper the gabapentin dose and monitor for any withdrawal symptoms, minimizing the risk of adverse withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment for Gabapentin and Other Prescription Drug Addiction

Is Gabapentin Addictive

Because gabapentin is not a narcotic, you may not think you need treatment for a gabapentin addiction. However, gabapentin addiction can be life-threatening, and it’s essential to get the help you need.

An excellent first step is gabapentin detox. While this is possible at home under a doctor’s supervision, many facilities offer top-of-the-line drug detox programs that can better monitor the gabapentin withdrawal symptoms. If you use a high dose of gabapentin, use it with other substances, or have other medical conditions, it may be best to withdraw from gabapentin in a medical facility. 

Residential rehab programs can also offer the opportunity to heal and recover from gabapentin abuse. Residential treatment at Stillwater Behavioral Health offers compassion and 24/7 care in a luxurious setting, where your treatment plan is tailored to suit your exact needs. Healing isn’t linear, and recovery can be challenging, but Stillwater is committed to helping you end the cycle of addiction. Get help today at Stillwater Behavioral Health.