Reports have indicated that patients have been abusing the common pharmaceutical drug gabapentin. In very high doses, patients have experienced euphoric effects from ingesting the drug. Gabapentin is a non-controlled substance that is used as an anticonvulsant and analgesic. It is used to treat a wide variety of conditions such as epilepsy, narcolepsy and nerve pain. The drug has recently been used to treat symptoms of anxiety and has even been used to treat alcoholism.
Gabapentin’s brand-name counterpart, Neurontin has become one of the most widely sold drugs in the world and 70 to 90 percent of the drug has been prescribed for off-label use such as attention-deficit disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and migraines. Like other medications it does have a list of potential side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, shakiness and fatigue.
In 2004, reports outlined gabapentin abuse in a correctional facility in Florida. After discovering that only 19 of 96 gabapentin prescriptions were in the hands of the intended patient, a recall of the drug was made. Five inmates indicated abusing the substance by snorting powder from the capsules. All five inmates were being diagnosed for pain and psychiatric disorders as well as cocaine abuse. Four of those five inmates reported that they experienced a “high” from the substance that was similar to cocaine. Since then, it was completely removed from that institution amongst others.
Other acute cases of gabapentin abuse have been reported. Some patients have taken two to four times the prescribed daily amount and went on to obtain the drug without a prescription from doctors. A questionnaire-based survey completed by 129 participants attending 6 different drug addiction treatment centers revealed that 22 percent of the patients admitted to using non-prescribed gabapentin.
Not much extensive research has been done on the national level of gabapentin abuse. While these reported cases of abuse may be acute, the prevalence of prescriptions for the drug and its easy attainability could make it a definite concern.
Substance abuse is an epidemic and the prevalence of prescription drug addiction increases the need for intensive treatment. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading drug addiction treatment providers in the country. We offer inpatient and outpatient treatment options for patients who are struggling with drug addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis conditions. If you know someone who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of addiction treatment, please contact us at 888-530-4614. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer