Like many prescription medications, gabapentin can serve a crucial purpose in the lives of people struggling with chronic pain or other health conditions but carries the potential for misuse. If you are asking yourself, “Is gabapentin addictive?” or “What are the signs of gabapentin abuse?” you have come to the right place.
Gabapentin is commonly prescribed to treat nerve pain caused by shingles and other conditions. It is also used off-label to manage various forms of chronic pain, including fibromyalgia. However, some people may misuse gabapentin for its euphoric effects, leading to addiction.
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin, also known by its brand names Neurontin and Gralise, is a prescription medication used to help treat seizure disorders such as epilepsy. It is also prescribed to address nerve pain. While these are the FDA-approved uses for gabapentin, the medication is also sometimes prescribed off-label for:
- Treatment-resistant anxiety and depressive disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Gabapentin works by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain, which has a calming effect that can alleviate chronic pain. Gabapentin also helps reduce excitability in the brain to lower the risk of seizures and minimize symptoms of PTSD and alcohol withdrawal.
Is Gabapentin Addictive?
If you are wondering, “Is gabapentin addictive?” the answer is yes, it can be. Originally believed to have a low potential for misuse, gabapentin has been upgraded to a Schedule V controlled substance in some states. Schedule V drugs are considered to have a lower risk for misuse, but since they contain narcotics, they carry a higher risk of addiction than drugs not classified as controlled substances.
To help put things into perspective, consider that cough medicines with low doses of codeine, such as Robitusson AC, are also classified as Schedule V drugs. Just a step higher are Schedule IV drugs, which also have a low potential for misuse, but more so than Schedule V. Some examples are Xanax, Valium, and Ambien. So, while gabapentin addiction may be much less common than addiction to opioid drugs like fentanyl or hydrocodone, it is still possible to become dependent on this medication.
Signs of Gabapentin Addiction
If you are prescribed gabapentin to manage a medical condition, it is essential to recognize when you may be misusing your medication or have become addicted to it. Some common signs of Gabapentin addiction include:
Increased Dosage and Frequency
One reliable way to know if you are dependent on gabapentin is if you require higher doses or more frequent use to achieve the desired effects. This means your body has developed a tolerance to the current dosage.
A dependence on gabapentin can result in cravings and a strong desire to use the medication more frequently than prescribed.
When you are dependent on gabapentin, the drug starts to occupy your thoughts more and more. You may fail to fulfill work, home, or school obligations due to an excessive focus on gabapentin.
Gabapentin dependence causes the drug to take up more of your time, and you may start to withdraw from friends, family, and social activities you once enjoyed.
If you experience symptoms like mood swings, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, headaches, and anxiety when not taking gabapentin, there is a good chance you have become addicted to your medication.
Treating Gabapentin Addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling with gabapentin addiction, it is crucial to seek help and support. Here are a few tips for overcoming dependence on gabapentin:
- Recognize that the drug is negatively impacting your life and commit to overcoming gabapentin addiction.
- Enlist the support of trusted loved ones to help you kick off your recovery path and keep you on track.
- Research addiction treatment centers to find the best fit to help you recover.
- Enroll in a treatment program that includes various therapies to help address existing co-occurring disorders such as depression or anxiety disorders.
- Learn relapse prevention techniques to help keep you from going back to gabapentin use.
It is also beneficial for your recovery to attend virtual or in-person support groups so you can share your experiences with others in recovery and learn what helped them maintain their sobriety.
Contact The Right Step Hill Country Today to Get Help with Gabapentin Addiction
Although the risk of gabapentin addiction is lower than many other prescription drugs, it is still possible to develop a dependence that threatens your overall health and well-being. Overcoming addiction to gabapentin can pose significant challenges, but with the appropriate treatment and support, recovery is attainable. The compassionate team at The Right Step Hill Country is here to help you or your loved one break free from gabapentin addiction. Call The Right Step Hill Country at 1.844.675.1628 or fill out our online contact form to enroll in treatment.