Gabapentin has been life-changing for people managing nerve pain or seizure disorders. It has also made a difference in the lives of those struggling with treatment-resistant depression or anxiety. But, despite the benefits of gabapentin for these conditions, it is vital to take caution when using this medication. Some people may develop a dependence on the medicine, which typically starts with gabapentin abuse.
At The Right Step Hill Country, our addiction treatment programs are designed to address the whole person, whether dealing with gabapentin abuse, alcohol addiction, or any other type of substance use disorder. Call us at 1.844.675.1628 to learn how we can help someone you love overcome addiction.
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription anticonvulsant medication used to reduce seizures and alleviate nerve pain. It does this by reducing excitability in the brain and inducing calm. It is available as both a brand-name medication, Neurontin, and a generic. Even though gabapentin is safe and effective when used as prescribed, it can cause serious issues when misused.
What Are the Signs of Gabapentin Abuse?
Gabapentin is generally regarded as a safe medication, but there are still risks of developing an addiction if a person misuses the medicine. How do you know if someone you care about is misusing their medication? Look out for the following signs of gabapentin abuse:
Increasing Dosage Without a Doctor’s Consent
There may be reason for concern if you notice a loved one taking gabapentin more frequently or doubling up their dosage without their doctor’s guidance. Any changes in dosage should always involve their healthcare practitioner. It is worth noting that the person may hide gabapentin abuse, so you may not realize they are taking the medication more often than they should. However, one telltale sign is running out of their medication before they are due for a refill.
Cravings or Obsession with the Medication
While a person may not express their gabapentin cravings with others, you might notice them obsessing over when they can take their next dose or worrying excessively about running out of their medication.
This practice involves scheduling appointments with more than one doctor with the intention of obtaining multiple prescriptions for gabapentin. Doctor shopping is a way that some people get around the restrictions on how many pills a provider will prescribe during a given time period.
Misusing gabapentin can affect productivity, which may be visible at work, school, and home. Getting written up at work, receiving failing grades at school, or dropping the ball with childcare or household chores are all signs that gabapentin abuse may be an issue for your loved one.
The Risks of Gabapentin Abuse
Gabapentin abuse poses several risks, so you may want to talk to your loved one about the dangers and encourage them to get help. Some potential risks of abusing gabapentin include:
- Drug interactions – When combined with other substances, the side effects of gabapentin may worsen. For example, mixing gabapentin with opioid painkillers can lead to excessive tiredness and dizziness, which can be especially dangerous if they drive or operate machinery under the influence.
- Mental health conditions – Misusing gabapentin can lead to anxiety and depression or worsen mental health conditions that are already present.
- Physical health issues – Taking high doses of gabapentin or misusing the medicine long-term can lead to respiratory depression or cardiovascular problems.
- Developing a tolerance or dependence – Prolonged misuse of gabapentin can result in tolerance, requiring higher doses of the medication to achieve the same effect. Over the long term, this can lead to dependence and addiction.
If you suspect someone you know is misusing gabapentin, it is essential to have a conversation with them about your concerns. Be sure to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, as they might become defensive or deny they have a problem. Let them know you care and want the best for them, then give them plenty of space to talk.
Schedule an Appointment at The Right Step Hill Country for Help with Gabapentin Addiction
Once you can recognize the signs of gabapentin abuse, you are better prepared if a loved one needs professional help. Our team at The Right Step Hill Country is here to help those with addiction, including gabapentin abuse. If you think someone you know is misusing gabapentin, call The Right Step Hill Country at 1.844.675.1628 for guidance. Or fill out our contact form to reach out to our friendly staff members, who welcome your questions about our evidence-based addiction treatment programs.