Gabapentin is often used as a prescription drug, but that doesn’t mean users can’t get hooked on it. Without interference or careful medication management, medical gabapentin use can turn into full-blown gabapentin abuse and produce a mix of harmful psychoactive effects. Getting out of this cycle of addiction can be tricky, but it’s not impossible with the proper treatment.
Here, we’ll look at this drug addiction and the different kinds of treatment available.
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription medication used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain (nerve pain), restless leg syndrome, and hot flashes. It comes in three different forms: oral capsule, immediate-release oral tablet, and an oral solution, but users have been known to snort the pill powder into nasal passages. The Drug Enforcement Administration does not classify gabapentin as a ‘controlled substance,’ but this doesn’t mean it’s not highly addictive. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of gabapentin addiction as it can produce pleasurable psychoactive effects such as feelings of calm and euphoria.
How Does Gabapentin Work?
Classed as an anticonvulsant, gabapentin works by changing the signals that nerves send to the brain. In cases where pain is being targeted (nerve conditions like restless leg syndrome), gabapentin will be prescribed to help ease symptoms and reduce the number of messages that nerves send to the brain.
What Happens If You Snort Gabapentin?
Though medicinal gabapentin comes in oral or capsule form, snorting gabapentin is common among recreational drug users. Once you snort gabapentin for the first time, you might feel relaxed and extremely calm. Over time, however, these feelings of calm and euphoria will become addictive and something you chase after. This is known as psychological dependence and is what sets the wheels of gabapentin addiction in motion. You may think that taking one dose of gabapentin won’t do anything, but there’s no saying if you’ll become addicted to the feeling it gives you.
Why Do People Snort Gabapentin?
Some people take the drug for medical reasons, mainly if prescribed gabapentin for nerve pain. In most cases, those who snort gabapentin usually do so recreationally. This is because snorting gabapentin often produces euphoric effects and can create a feeling of calm and increased sociability. Much like alcohol, gabapentin is a depressant and directly impacts the central nervous system and the GABA neurotransmitter (the primary neurotransmitter of the central nervous system). This makes it act as a mild tranquilizer, as it essentially ‘depresses’ the central nervous system and GABA neurotransmitter.
Snorting gabapentin can also enhance the effects of other drugs such as heroin and opioids, intensifying the experience. In these cases, the risk of overdose is much higher than if gabapentin is taken by itself.
Side Effects and Dangers of Gabapentin Abuse
Despite feelings of euphoria, the pleasurable effects of gabapentin are short-lived. Regular gabapentin abuse will significantly impact your physical and mental health, especially if you’re taking it with other drugs. Some of these side-effects are mild, while others are severe and can even cause death.
Some of the most common side-effects include:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Weight gain
- Panic attacks
- Aggressive behavior
In some cases, you can get an allergic reaction to gabapentin. These symptoms are not just a mere annoyance – they can be life-threatening and include:
- Hives and welts
- Skin rashes
- Unusual bleeding and bruising
- Muscle pain and fatigue
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Swollen tongue and lips
Allergic reactions need medical attention straight away, so don’t hesitate to call 999 in these situations. Long-term gabapentin use can also draw you into toxic delirium, producing other adverse effects such as gabapentin symptoms and intense cravings.
What Is Gabapentin Withdrawal?
Withdrawal is a common reaction to long-term substance abuse and occurs once a user stops taking a drug cold turkey (i.e., quitting on your own without medical support). Withdrawal symptoms can set in as soon as you stop taking gabapentin and can be uncomfortable, producing effects such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches and pains
- Chills and tremors
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Flu symptoms
You may think quitting cold turkey is the fastest and easiest solution, but it is the most dangerous. You will be up against uncomfortable – and sometimes life-threatening – symptoms, but you’ll also be doing it all by yourself. You won’t have adequate support, and the symptoms may push you back into the cycle of addiction.
Gabapentin Overdose Symptoms
Though gabapentin can produce severe side effects – especially in the long term – it’s more difficult to overdose on it. Studies show that people who ingest large doses of gabapentin rarely report severe mental or physical side effects. Despite this, gabapentin should not be taken in large amounts – especially if you’re mixing gabapentin with other substances or prescription medications.
Signs of Gabapentin (Neurontin) Addiction
Common signs of gabapentin abuse usually match any substance abuse. If you believe that you or someone you know may be suffering from a gabapentin addiction, look out for these signs:
- Secretive behaviors
- Defensiveness when asked about their drug-taking
- Social isolation
- Drained finances
- Pill bottles in their home
- An inability to stop taking gabapentin without withdrawal symptoms kicking off
- Delayed motor skills (coordination problems)
- Bloodshot eyes
- Changes in mood
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
Treatment for Gabapentin Abuse
If you are struggling with gabapentin abuse, you must seek help from healthcare professionals as soon as possible. Gabapentin abuse can significantly impact your overall physical and mental health.
Some of the most common treatment options for gabapentin addiction include:
Medical detox: A process in which medical professionals cleanse your body of any traces of gabapentin or drug abuse over a gradual period. Medical detox will also produce withdrawal symptoms, but these can be more easily managed with 24/7 supervision and care. Most medical detoxes are performed in dedicated substance abuse clinics as a more comprehensive substance abuse treatment program.
Psychotherapy: Also known as talk therapy, the most popular form of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help you overcome negative habits and behaviors, replacing them with healthy and positive ones.
Family therapy: Family therapy is a great way to let your family know more about your addiction and will help them better understand what you’re going through. It can also serve as a chance to air their concerns and get things off their chest. In any case, these conversations will also be led and guided by a therapist.
Find Help In Our Addiction Treatment Center at Cornerstone
Here at Cornerstone Recovery Clinic, we understand just how difficult it can be to break out of substance abuse and addiction. That’s why we’ll never judge you or treat you as a ‘case.’ We will always provide you with a high level of compassionate care and do all we can to make you feel comfortable. Alongside gabapentin addiction, we also treat many other substance abuse problems, such as alcohol addiction and opioid addiction. We will personalize addiction treatment to suit your unique needs and medical history.
Get in touch with our care team today, who will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have and guide you through the admissions process.