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What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin, or Neurontin, is an anticonvulsant medication usually prescribed for epilepsy, restless leg syndrome, chronic pain, and nerve pain from shingles. Gabapentin works by reducing the effect of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. In this respect, it is similar to alcohol. It is a non-opioid pain reliever that doesn’t have the same side effects as opioids, although it does have side effects. Although it is a prescription medication, it is not a controlled substance and people are more often using it recreationally.  

While drugs such as Xanax and opioid pain relievers are becoming more strictly controlled, gabapentin remains easier to get. It is also a generic drug and therefore relatively cheap. People use it recreationally to feel sleepy or lightheaded. Some compare the high to marijuana, a sort of calm euphoria. Gabapentin usually starts working in about an hour and the effects last for several hours. As with most drugs, there is a letdown after using gabapentin. You may feel anxious, tense, depressed or irritable after it wears off. Although gabapentin is not likely to cause physical dependence the way opioids or benzodiazepines do, it can become addictive with regular use and many users experience withdrawal symptoms after quitting.

The most common side effects of gabapentin are dizziness and sleepiness, which for recreational users are the primary effects. Other side effects include loss of coordination, nausea, fever, tremors, impaired speech, and vision problems. More severe side effects may include suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. Paradoxically, gabapentin may also cause anxiety, agitation, panic, restlessness, and insomnia. Some people have allergic reactions that include rashes, fever, infection, hives, and jaundice.

Gabapentin has not been shown to be fatal at high doses, but taking too much–recreational users often take many times the recommended dose–is likely to have toxic effects. Gabapentin, like many drugs is enhanced by taking it with alcohol. Since both alcohol and gabapentin suppress the action of glutamate, taking them together is likely to cause extreme drowsiness.

Just because gabapentin is not a controlled substance does not mean it isn’t addictive or dangerous. Not only is it addictive in itself, but it is often used with other drugs. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to gabapentin, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.