Substance Use

Gabapentin Use Disorder Treatment

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Gabapentin Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options

As science has evolved, a wide array of drugs, such as gabapentin, is now available that can make a tremendous, positive difference in the lives of tens of millions of people who suffer from a variety of painful disorders. Ample evidence exists to demonstrate that many of these drugs have highly dangerous side effects and can be extremely addictive. One of those drugs is gabapentin.

Learn more about gabapentin, and how to seek help if you or a loved one is abusing gabapentin. For immediate assistance, call (855) 430-9439.

How And Why Do People Abuse Gabapentin?

Gabapentin can be misused, abused, and be the cause addiction. The chemical structure of gabapentin can result in someone experiencing feelings of relaxation and joy as anxiety and pain ease. While these feelings are not as intense as they can be with opioids, they are still present, resulting in physical dependence.

When it comes to gabapentin, this can be extremely dangerous, as doses must be timed and structured in such a way as to avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Numerous studies have indicated the strong potential for gabapentin abuse and addiction. One 2012 study noted that gabapentin could produce “high” like effects, including euphoria and putting patients into a “zombie-like” state. The same study reviewed the available evidence and found that gabapentin was widely prescribed.

It was also found in an increasing number of toxicology reports, alongside many other addictive medications. The same report noted that gabapentin was being found in more and more illegal drugs, such as heroin, thus increasing its danger.

A 2016 review examined available evidence and found that as many as 1% of the general population could be abusing gabapentin. However, only 40-65% of those people misused prescription gabapentin, meaning that the rest were obtaining the drug illegally.

Furthermore, 15-22% of people who already used opioids were also using gabapentin, creating a complicated situation in which individuals misused multiple classes of drugs simultaneously. These disorders are much more challenging to treat and much more dangerous.

The irony is that gabapentin is not an opioid and was developed, in part, to be a less addictive alternative to opioids.

Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms

Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Sweating
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Tremors
  • Fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia

People misuse gabapentin in many ways. Patients can be prescribed the drug by their doctor for an existing medical condition, only to become addicted. People report misuse through crushing and snorting gabapentin rather than taking it orally.

Effects of Gabapentin Addiction and Abuse

Even under normal circumstances, gabapentin is not a drug that is without its dangers or potential problems. It must be used as prescribed by a doctor, and a failure to do so can result in a wide array of side effects, including:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Nausea & vomiting

More severe side effects can occur, including:

  • Irritability
  • Violent behavior
  • Mania
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts

Some people ask if gabapentin is addictive. Gabapentin does have addictive properties; however, it has a low potential for dependence. As noted above, its side effects can be pleasant and euphoric. As a result of this and how it changes the nerve signals in your brain, people can become addicted to the substance.

Gabapentin does not produce quite the same tolerance effects as opioids. Still, people can become more tolerant of some of its “positive” side effects, like anxiety reduction. As a result, they can take more and more of the drug, causing further addiction.

In extreme cases, gabapentin overdose is possible, and it can be fatal. There are no treatments like Narcan, where an individual can directly intervene to aid someone overdosing. Immediate medical attention will likely be necessary to save the life of the person who has overdosed.

With medical attention and appropriate medical care administration, a gabapentin overdose need not result in death. Ideally, that individual will then immediately seek treatment for their gabapentin use disorder.

How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System?

The average half-life of Gabapentin is 5-7 hours, which means that it stays in your system for about 48 hours and doesn’t typically show up on a drug test. A standard 10-panel drug test screening for controlled substances will not detect gabapentin.

These tests screen for amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, opioids, barbiturates, benzodiazepine, and PCP. Gabapentin is not detectable using a saliva swab test. Blood tests and urinalysis are most commonly used to screen for the drug.

In general, the following applies:

Blood testsUp to two days
Hair testsUp to 30 days
Urine testsOne to two days in most individuals
Saliva testsCannot be detected using a mouth swab test

Factors for detectability include age, body mass, overall health, how much and how often it’s used, metabolism, hydration, and food eaten.

Treatment for Gabapentin Addiction

Treatment for gabapentin use disorder can vary depending on the severity of the addiction and the individual’s history. After all, no two people are the same, and no two addiction treatment plans will be identical.

There are numerous treatment options for individuals who have a gabapentin addiction. Some or all of these may be used in conjunction with each other.

1. Detox

First, a person should have a complete medical assessment and begin the process of detox. Gabapentin is not an opioid; medication-assisted treatments that work for opioids will not work. 

Your withdrawal symptoms will be managed by the medical professionals you’ll interact with, and they will do their best to keep you comfortable.

2. Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment allows an individual to live at home or another setting while participating in treatment. They may spend time working with therapists, addiction counselors, or other treatment professionals.

These behavioral health specialists can help someone find the root causes of their addiction, manage their illnesses, learn new coping strategies, and make lifestyle changes that can affect a lasting recovery.

3. Inpatient Treatment

For some, inpatient detox and treatment is the most effective treatment option. An individual will stay at a treatment facility and participate in daily structured groups, activities, and work with a primary therapist to understand their addiction and become grounded in recovery principles.

4. Support Groups and Group Therapy

Group therapy is a meeting, typically facilitated by a licensed therapist. Participants engage in structured conversations or activities as they relate to substance use disorders. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous are peer-led meetings focused on recovery.

Whether group therapy or a support group, it is hoped that all participating individuals will learn from each other and use their issues and challenges to grow.

Get Help for Gabapentin Addiction Today

Zinnia Healing is committed to helping people struggling with gabapentin addiction and mental health issues recover. We have a growing network of treatment centers to meet the needs of people across the United States.

If you or someone you know needs help addressing gabapentin abuse or addiction, contact our office via email or phone at (855) 430-9439. Thousands of people have recovered from gabapentin misuse. Finding the right treatment option will position you for long-term success without relying on drugs.

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