Substance Use

Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol: Can You Drink on Gabapentin?

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Gabapentin and Alcohol Substance Abuse

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication that’s prescribed by healthcare providers to treat seizure disorders and epilepsy. It’s often sold under the brand name Neurontin. Gabapentin treatment may also be used for restless legs syndrome (RLS), to treat pain after shingles, and for certain mental health conditions.

Although researchers are still not sure exactly how gabapentin works, its structure is similar to GABA, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It is known to interfere with the brain’s electrical activity to slow it down, which works to control seizures. Since alcohol also depresses the central nervous system, the combination can be fatal.

Are you looking for a confidential treatment program that can help you overcome prescription drug addiction or get your alcohol consumption in check? Zinnia Health can help. Call our team today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our treatment options.

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What Are the Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Gabapentin?

Gabapentin and alcohol can enhance each other’s depressant effects on the central nervous system, leading to intense intoxication and impaired function.

If you mix the two, you’ll likely experience a short-lasting sensation as though you’ve been drinking heavily, but this can quickly be followed by changes in breathing, irregular heart rate, and loss of consciousness. You are also at an increased risk of overdose.

Can You Drink on Gabapentin?

While gabapentin is not as addictive as other well-known prescription drugs, it can still cause physical dependence, and it can be very dangerous if mixed with other substances like alcohol. In fact, gabapentin’s manufacturer, Pfizer, has a disclaimer on gabapentin bottles that states:

“Do not drink alcohol or take other medicines that make you sleepy or dizzy while taking [gabapentin] without first talking with your healthcare provider. Taking [gabapentin] with alcohol or drugs that cause sleepiness or dizziness may make your sleepiness or dizziness worse.”

As such, you should avoid alcohol when taking gabapentin. If you find yourself intentionally combining alcohol with a controlled substance like gabapentin to amplify its effects, it’s important to seek help before an addiction forms or worsens.

How Long After Taking Gabapentin Can You Drink Alcohol?

Gabapentin and alcohol should never be mixed. If you have taken a dose of gabapentin, wait at least 24 hours before consuming alcohol to give your body time to cleanse the drug out of your system. It can take longer for gabapentin to leave your body if you are a heavy user or experiencing certain health conditions that impair kidney function, so proceed with caution.

If you have recently started taking gabapentin with a prescription, you should avoid alcohol for the foreseeable future. Ask your doctor if you have questions about drinking while taking your medications.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Gabapentin?

Some people mix alcohol with gabapentin accidentally because they are taking it as a prescription medication and don’t realize that drinking alcohol on gabapentin is dangerous. However, others intentionally misuse gabapentin by combining it with alcohol.

When combined, a person doesn’t have to drink as much to feel heavily intoxicated. However, while you might feel buzzed for a bit followed by an intense sensation of sedation and impairment, it can quickly progress into severe consequences like slowed heart rate, respiratory depression, and loss of consciousness.

Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Gabapentin with Alcohol?

Taking alcohol and gabapentin together is a type of drug abuse that can lead to more rapid development of physical dependence. It can also lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit, feeding into the addiction cycle.

Both gabapentin and alcohol cause central nervous system (CNS) and respiratory depression, meaning that combining these two substances can drastically worsen these effects. Respiratory depression happens when your body stops getting enough oxygen, causing the breathing to become shallower or even stop.

The FDA issued a recent warning about gabapentin’s increased risk of respiratory depression when it’s combined with other risk factors like increased age, pre-existing respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a history of opioid use, and a history of substance abuse.

Drinking alcohol in excessive amounts while on gabapentin has also been linked to an increased risk of seizures.

What Can Happen if You Drink on Gabapentin?

The most common side effects people report when taking gabapentin include dizziness, loss of coordination, drowsiness, tiredness, and memory issues. Taking alcohol with gabapentin can worsen these side effects since it has a similar mechanism of action.

It can also lead to:

  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Mania
  • Panic attacks
  • Violent behavior
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Hives
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen glands
  • Severe body weakness
  • Unusual bruising
  • Pain in the upper stomach
  • Yellow eyes and/or skin

In addition to these dangers, drinking alcohol and taking gabapentin is not advised because of the severe side effects that are associated with this kind of polydrug use, such as:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Dizziness
  • Eye and speech response delays
  • Loss of coordination
  • Unconsciousness
  • Worsening depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Drowsiness and sleepiness
  • Mood and behavioral changes
  • Impaired bodily functions
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Digestive issues
  • Dry mouth
  • Swollen hands, legs, ankles, and/or feet
  • Confusion

If you’re dealing with alcohol cravings, you might need help avoiding or recovering from alcohol abuse. To figure out if your habits are a cause for concern, call the confidential helpline at Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439 for evidence-based information that will protect your mental and behavioral health.

What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol with Gabapentin?

The effects of gabapentin transcend beyond the short-term risks and side effects. Continued drug use can lead to gabapentin and/or alcohol dependence, which can rapidly lead to a substance use disorder (better known as addiction).

If you’re worried that someone is drinking alcohol with gabapentin or abusing drugs in other ways, look for these symptoms:

  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Increased attitude and aggression
  • Sudden changes of the people they spend time with
  • Shifting habits and priorities
  • Depression and declining mental health
  • Lethargy and lack of motivation

People undergoing treatment for drug addiction or alcohol use disorder typically start their treatment program with medically supervised detox to help them deal with the harsh and uncomfortable alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

How to Get Help for a Gabapentin Addiction

Detox programs provide a comfortable and safe environment to withdraw from alcohol and drugs without temptation.

Alcohol addiction treatment centers often use medication to help mitigate the worst withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Acamprosate calcium: This medication helps minimize the physical and mental stress associated with the detoxification process.
  • Naltrexone: This medication helps prevent relapse by blocking alcohol’s euphoric effects.

Whether or not you undergo a medication-assisted detox will depend entirely on your substance use history, withdrawal symptoms, and co-occurring disorders. It’s essential to work with a treatment center that takes the time to understand your unique needs before deciding on a path forward.

Detox is the first step of recovery, but it’s definitely not the last. After detox, you will have the choice to enter an inpatient rehab facility to receive around-the-clock care, monitoring, supervision, treatment, and counseling. Alternatively, you can attend outpatient rehab, where you’ll have access to treatment programs and therapy that work with your schedule.

In any treatment setting, you’ll take part in behavioral therapy such as:

All facilities approach recovery differently, and it’s critical to find a place that provides a safe, confidential, and welcoming environment where you can focus on recovery.

Are you looking for proven therapies capable of getting you through the withdrawal process and helping you overcome substance use for good? Our caring staff at Zinnia Health can help you with a personalized treatment program, mental health support, and follow-up care. Just call (855) 430-9439 to learn more about how we can help.

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