Neurontin Addiction & Abuse
Neurontin is a brand-name drug, also known by the generic name gabapentin. Classified as an anticonvulsant, Neurontin affects nerves and chemicals in the body that cause certain types of pain and seizures. Gabapentin was approved for use in 1993. The drug is currently available in immediate-release and extended-release versions. While it has therapeutic benefits, Neurontin side effects are possible.
Neurontin is used for a few different conditions. First, it can be used to treat partial seizures. Neurontin can be used in adults and children who are ages three and older with epilepsy. It’s usually combined with another seizure medication in people who have epilepsy. Neurontin is also used to treat postherpetic neuralgia. This is a condition in which someone suffers from nerve damage stemming from shingles. Off-label uses of Neurontin include treating anxiety disorders and insomnia. The most common side effects of Neurontin include dizziness, drowsiness and fatigue. Other possible side effects of Neurontin can include depression or changes in thoughts or mood.
While Neurontin does have benefits and is even being looked at as a potential drug alternative to opioids, it has the potential for abuse. More and more people are reportedly using it outside of its prescribed purposes. Neurontin can be used on its own to create a high or feeling of relaxation. Commonly, Neurontin abuse often includes combining it with another central nervous system depressant. When Neurontin is mixed with another CNS depressant, it can heighten the effects of both substances. Neurontin is frequently abused with other drugs, such as opioids, muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medications. When people mix Neurontin with these kinds of drugs, they may feel euphoria.
Despite the growing concern about Neurontin abuse, it’s very widely prescribed and the number of prescriptions continues to go up. Neurontin is even being promoted as a safer opioid alternative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neurontin (and gabapentin) abuse has become so prevalent that it’s gaining a reputation as being one of the most abused drugs in the United States prison system because is relatively easy to acquire.
Neurontin abuse can lead to addiction. Signs of Neurontin abuse includes using the drug in any way outside of what’s prescribed or instructed by a physician. For example, someone who is abusing the drug may take a larger dose than as prescribed or take a dose of Neurontin more often than they should. Combining Neurontin with another substance indicated polysubstance abuse. Other outward signs of Neurontin abuse include:
- New or worsening depression or anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Changes in mood
Someone who is addicted to Neurontin may:
- Compulsively seek out more of the drug
- Continue to use it even though they experience negative side effects and outcomes
- Unsuccessfully try to stop using the drug
- Have problems with jobs, school, and relationships
- Focus most of their time and attention on having a stash of the drug and using it
Common Side Effects of Neurontin Abuse & Overdose
Someone who is abusing Neurontin may seem to be drowsy, fatigued or depressed. Abusing Neurontin increases the risk of an overdose, especially if it’s combined with another central nervous system depressant. The recommended daily dose of Neurontin is around 4 grams, but there have been reported overdoses with people taking as much as 49 grams. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if someone is overdosing on Neurontin or if they are just experiencing the common side effects of the drug. A mild Neurontin overdose can include drowsiness, slurred speech and double vision. More severe Neurontin overdose symptoms can include uncontrollable body movements, excitation and breathing problems. Sedation may also occur.
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