What Is Gabapentin and What Are the Risks of Abuse?
Gabapentin, brand name Neurontin is a prescription drug that is used to treat pain, epilepsy, seizures as well as symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Of recent, it is being used to treat some cases of marijuana dependence. It belongs to a class of drugs known as anticonvulsants, and can easily get you hooked on it.
As much as it is prescribed for pain relief, it is not in the same class of drugs as narcotic painkillers, which are controlled substances and highly addictive. However, of recent Gabapentin has become common to abuse, making it addictive. This is because of the positive effects it has on the person taking it.
Some reported positive experiences that users have reported feeling include but are not limited to improved sociability, euphoria, calmness, relaxation and a high similar to that felt with marijuana. Nonetheless, just like any other drug, such substance abuse can result in some negative side effects.
The Side Effects of Abusing Gabapentin
Gabapentin abuse has been on the rise, due to some positive effects of sociability and relaxation. However, too much intake and even taking the right dose has been seen to cause some negative effects.
Some people have reported a zombie-like effect when they take it in high doses. Nevertheless, this varies in different individuals, as taking it in the right dosage can also affect you negatively.
Moreover, continued intake of this drug, as it reacts negatively to your body can lead to more intense side effects, which can be life-threatening.
Some of these negative intense side effects include but are not limited to:
- A headache
- Blurry vision or double vision
- Memory problems
- Coordination problems
- Uncontrollable shaking of some body parts
- Dry mouth
- Pain in your back, joints, and ears
- Flu-like symptoms
- Itchy red eyes
- Increased appetite and weight gain
Moreover, it can also cause a seizure, which is very dangerous for someone who has never experienced it before.
How to Recognize Gabapentin Substance Abuse
Gabapentin is not well known when it comes to its addictive side, but you can easily recognize some changes in someone who has been prescribed to use it. Therefore, if your loved one is taking this drug, you should monitor them carefully to make sure they do not abuse it or fall victim to its negative side effects.
Likewise, if someone you know and love has a history of substance abuse, then you should keep an eye on him or her, so they do not abuse this drug too. The reason for this level of caution is that Gabapentin has some very positive short-term effects of euphoria that one can crave for every now and then, making them take it in high doses.
Someone abusing Gabapentin is likely to be very secretive with a circle of friends who also abuse the drug. Besides, they also become apathetic towards other aspects of their life, from school to work. Either their grades will start to fall or they will be indifferent towards work and other important stuff in their life.
Moreover, their eating and sleeping habits will change, so will their personal hygiene and self-care. They will only be interested in their drug addict friends and the drug itself. Additionally, they will do anything just to have a taste of the drug, from hopping to different physicians to get a prescription, and faking or stealing prescriptions.
For that reason, you should disclose any history of substance abuse to the doctor, if you want your loved one to improve health-wise while using this drug. Likewise, the doctor should be carefully and always ask for the health history of the patient before prescribing Gabapentin.
How to Avoid the Abuse of Gabapentin
- Never take this drug in higher doses, frequently for a long time than the doctor prescribed.
- You should not stop taking it all of a sudden, as it can lead to some withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, anxiety, and pain, as well as difficulty, falling or staying asleep. You should consult your doctor for any severe side effects before you stop taking it.
- You should let your doctor know of any history of substance abuse, before asking for Gabapentin prescription.
- If you are taking this drug as part of an addiction treatment program, then you should attend therapy sessions and discuss your treatment and its needs with your doctor on a regular basis.
In conclusion, Gabapentin has some great positive short-term side effects, depending on the individual. Therefore, if you notice some negative behaviors in a person taking this drug, it is best you consult a doctor on their behalf, as they might not be in control of the addiction or the whole situation.