Is Gabapentin Safe to Take?

While gabapentin does have therapeutic uses, there are risks linked with its use as well. The risks are why people wonder if the drug is safe to use. The drug’s side effects can be severe and there are some extra risks to consider, like forming a dependence on the drug.

In recent years there has been a big surge in gabapentin prescriptions. The drug comes in capsule form, as an oral solution and as tablets. It is used to limit or control epileptic seizures. Another use may be for pain that comes from a shingles outbreak. There is an extended-release version of gabapentin that is used to treat restless leg syndrome. Sometimes gabapentin is used to treat pain from diabetic neuropathy.

Gabapentin use is thought to calm certain impulses that occur in the central nervous system. The drug may alter how neurotransmitters communicate with one another by boosting the amount of GABA produced. Some studies show that gabapentin can slow nerve activity via glutamate restriction. Doctors think glutamate plays a role in epileptic seizures.

Gabapentin pills
The side effects of the drug may cause some people to wonder if it is safe to use. The side effects each person gets can vary. A doctor can help you see the risks and benefits of gabapentin use. Some of the common side effects are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vision trouble
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain

Some of the severe side effects are seizures, trouble breathing and allergic reactions.

People who start to use gabapentin are warned to watch out for shifts in mood or emotions. For example, a person who sees increased anxiety, anger or panic attacks should contact a doctor right away. Gabapentin can potentially cause suicidal thoughts.

It is crucial to discuss your full medical history with a doctor before using the drug. You should also let your doctor know of any other substances being used regularly, like alcohol, drugs, vitamins or herbal supplements. Gabapentin may interact with certain types of substances and cause negative side effects. For example, mixing alcohol and gabapentin can cause people to feel dizzy or tired.

Despite the risk of bad side effects from using the drug, it can be more dangerous to stop using it. Gabapentin use can cause physical dependence. So, if you stop using it suddenly, you may go through withdrawal.

While there are severe side effects of using gabapentin, they are rare. More common are the withdrawal symptoms that appear when someone stops taking it suddenly. Due to that risk, no one should stop taking the drug without a doctor’s approval. Doing so can cause a condition called status epilepticus. The condition involves seizures occurring one after another. The condition is a medical emergency since it can be deadly.

Other withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, sleep issues, pain, sweating and nausea. To avoid these symptoms, a doctor will usually instruct a person to taper their gabapentin dose. It is possible to overdose on gabapentin, so people need to follow a doctor’s orders to stay safe.

Due to the way gabapentin is used to treat pain, people may wonder if it is addictive. When taken as prescribed, gabapentin isn’t considered addictive. However, people may abuse it to get high.

In high doses, the drug may cause euphoria or sedation. Because of how easy it is to get gabapentin and the fact that it’s not a controlled substance, it is widely abused either with opioids or instead of opioids.

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