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Gabapentin and Opioids: A Killer Combo

Pill pottle with gabapentin or opioids spilling out of it

Opioid addiction causes devastation and destruction to all who come into contact with it. And with opioid addiction and fatalities on the rise, people are turning to opioid addiction treatment, and the world of modern medicine is turning to gabapentin as an alternative for pain relief. But what is gabapentin? Is it also an opioid? Is it a bad alternative? To learn more about the negative effects of using gabapentin and opioids, call 888.341.3607 to speak with someone from Ashwood Recovery’s team of knowledgeable professionals in Idaho.

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin—also known by the brand name Neurontin and the street name “gabbies”—is a tablet medication introduced in 1993 and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating epilepsy. In 2004, the FDA approved the medication for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

In addition to being prescribed for epilepsy and neuropathic pain, Neurontin is also being used to treat:

  • Chronic and mild to moderate pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Opioid withdrawal
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Restless leg syndrome

Because it is such a diverse medication, gabapentin prescriptions are on the rise.

How Does Gabapentin Work?

Neurontin works on the central nervous system (CNS) by stabilizing electrical activity and affecting how the nervous system sends messages to the rest of the body. Neurontin appears to:

  • Increase the production of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which acts as a nerve-calming agent
  • Reduce the release of glutamate, which is a nerve-exciting agent that causes electrical signals to build up in the brain
  • Stabilize nerve activity in the brain and keep a proper balance in the body

In theory, this explains why Neurontin can lessen seizure activity, decrease pain, stabilize mood disorders, and decrease withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Gabapentin?

Here are a few of the most common side effects you can expect with gabapentin:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Viral infections
  • Tremors
  • Double vision

If you are considering taking gabapentin, talk to your doctor to determine if the benefit of taking the medication outweighs the potential risk of side effects. After taking gabapentin, you should call your doctor immediately if you experience side effects like fever, skin rash, chest pain, nausea and vomiting, and trouble breathing.

Why Is Gabapentin an Alternative to Opioids?

With opioid drugs delivering such a crushing and deadly blow to Americans, doctors have been scrambling to find a safe alternative to these powerful narcotic painkillers for treating pain. They have come up with an anti-seizure medication called gabapentin. However, it also comes with negative effects.

Is Gabapentin an Opioid?

Gabapentin is not an opioid. It is a synthetic medication typically used to treat seizures caused by epilepsy. Still, it has become increasingly popular as a treatment for nerve pain and other forms of chronic pain.

Why Is Gabapentin Bad?

Addiction experts report that the risk for gabapentin addiction is low because the medication does not contain addictive properties like those found in opioids or benzodiazepines. However, it is habit-forming. While gabapentin does not demonstrate a high likelihood of physical dependence, it has proven psychologically addictive for those who take it regularly.

Many people take opioids for pain relief and gabapentin for other medical conditions. However, this could be a deadly combination.

Why Shouldn’t You Mix Gabapentin and Opioids?

Some people take gabapentin and opioids because they have been prescribed both medications by a doctor. Others mix these two substances because gabapentin is said to enhance the high opioids create. And some don’t know they are combining the two. Whatever category you may fall into, you’re gambling with your life.

Opioids alone are deadly—but when you take opioids with gabapentin, you significantly increase your risk of overdose or death. Using gabapentin with opioids can increase the amount of opioids absorbed by the body, potentially leading to higher risk.

Find Gabapentin or Opioid Addiction Treatment in Idaho at Northpoint Recovery

Whether you are addicted to gabapentin or opioids—or if you have been dangerously mixing the two—help is available. Contact Northpoint Recovery today at 888.341.3607 to learn how we can help you overcome addiction.