What Happens When Gabapentin And Alcohol Are Mixed

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Wondering what happens when Gabapentin and alcohol are combined?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant agent that is primarily used to treat seizures and occasionally prescribed to treat nerve pain caused by shingles. Like many prescription drugs, alcohol is contraindicated while taking Gabapentin, which means that alcohol is likely to limit the effectiveness of the drug or that the combination of the two is likely to result in dangerous side effects.

Gabapentin And Alcohol

Despite being contraindicated, it is quite common for people taking Gabapentin to be interested in consuming alcohol. This interest has resulted in a small community that intentionally mixes the two drugs in order to enjoy the high and side effects that results. Like any prescription abuse, this is a dangerous course of action that can potentially result in hospitalization or maybe worse.


Alcohol and Gabapentin are drugs that potentiate each other. This means that when the drugs interact in the human body, they each increase the effects caused by the other drug. For alcohol, this means that the alcoholic high is stronger and kicks in with less alcohol. It also means, for both drugs, that unfortunate side effects common with these drugs are equally heightened.

Possible Consequences

The good news about mixing Gabapentin and alcohol is that, unless a person overdoses on one or both, it is unlikely that the combination will kill them. And while overdosing is easier when combining the drugs than when taken separately, it still is reasonably unlikely. That does not, however mean that mixing the drugs is safe.

While death is an extremely rare consequence, hospitalization is highly likely for other reasons. The most common reason is due to injury from a fall. Alcohol is a depressant that decreases motor functions and responsiveness. Gabapentin also decreases motor functions via direct action on the nervous system. As a result, people who take both drugs are highly likely to fall from even simple movements and are unlikely to have the motor skills to brace for such a fall successfully.

Falling is just one of the many possible consequences that can arise from the following side effects that are heightened when mixing these drugs:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of memory
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

When magnified, these side effects create a generally unsafe situation, especially if the person is engaging in any activity that involves vehicles or exercise. This safety hazard extends both to the person mixing the drugs and to individuals in the vicinity.

  • Anyone who has drunk alcohol while taking Gabapentin should call 911 or go to urgent care. Otherwise, immediately find a safe place to sit or lie down until the effects of the drugs have passed.

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There is an additional reason, besides intentional abuse, that alcohol is heavily associated with Gabapentin. Some researchers have discovered that Gabapentin may be an alternative option to benzodiazepines for assisting with alcohol withdrawal. Because the drug potentiates alcohol, it can allow alcoholics to drink less alcohol while feeling roughly the same effects, helping to detoxify the alcohol from their system.

In a controlled setting like a comprehensive alcohol rehabilitation program, this mixture is safe and actually beneficial. However, just because it is safe in this very limited situation, that doesn’t mean that it can be considered safe generally. While doctors may have the knowledge and tools to safely and beneficially mix the two drugs, the average person doesn’t and should avoid doing so at all costs.



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18 responses to “What Happens When Gabapentin And Alcohol Are Mixed

  1. I am on gabapentin 600 mgs 3x day I had 3 beers and my BAC was .17 is this because of gabapentin and the smell of alcohol stronger

    1. Hello – Alcohol and Gabapentin do “potentiate” each other. As far as the BAC is concerned, generally speaking, most prescription meds do not effect it. BAC is primarily a function of how much someone drinks over what period of time. A BAC of .17 is more than twice the legal limit, which means someone would need to have drank a multiple number of drinks in a relatively short period of time.

  2. It took me 2 minutes to find dozens of articles on this…seriously?! Check your facts before making statements please: “Gabapentin is not a narcotic and is not a controlled substance. You might get confused about this because it is often prescribed as a painkiller.” I’d drop a link, but but it’s hardly necessary.

    1. You were referring to the answer/reply, it has been fixed now. We added a clear statement of this fact to this page. We already had this page on our site which clearly states the truth about Gabapentin not being a narcotic. Thank you very much for your concern.

  3. I’m a heavy drinking alcoholic, been thru rehab, has an addiction specialized shrink, reg doctor. all that good stuff… thanks obama. anyways yeah i take 3600mg a day of GP and it keeps my drinking down significantly. I get a better buzz and im in less nerve pain from my own history that I refuse to take opiates for. All is good. I don’t fall. I have not withdrawn as often while taking these as Rx’d and have a more Sound sense of self. so. 300mg? I’m not a doctor but I love the combination. I found this site b/c I was just curious as to why my rx bottle I picked up today said don’t drink alcohol with it, but I’ve been doing that for about 6 months now. No problems.

    1. Thanks for checking in about your experience with alcohol & taking Gabapentin. Even though it sounds like you are doing ok, we can’t recommend it. Keep us posted please, and be careful, thanks again.

  4. I also have nerve pain at almost 60. I drank off and on but in last 7 years I drank steady. Now I’m on gabapentin. Haven’t drank when taking it…yet. Its been 9 months sober. I watched a friend drink with the gabas. He had to b hospitalized. Good luck,my friend

  5. One thing I do have at age 65 is alcoholic nerve pain. After drinking on weekends i am in excruciating pain all day Mondays. I am currently taking gab morning and night and it is helping me. Wonder what would happen if I decide to drink on Friday night as usual. Oh well time will tell. Maybe I am done drinking for good. Last Monday was aweful.

  6. Jepsen the only way to do it is swap your alcohol for a balanced diet and lots of water. Your body is missing some key enzymes in it that helps the blood to break down the misery within. If you cold turkey and eat a healthy diet the problem will go away. I once quit completely for 7 years on a bet. After winning the bet i returned to drinking but it was different, I could handle not having a drink, my body was not pinned down like yours is. On 8-5-88 I quit smoking and drinking. I stayed off the alcohol for 7 years. I never started smoking again to this day. -PawPaw

  7. Getting sick regularly if I don’t consume at least the small amount of alcohol like in a half pint of tequila daily sometimes twice how do I get off of this merry-go-round? I’ve been to the hospital and I’ve tried to stop drinking but I keep getting sick. Anybody have any ideas I’ve been struggling my whole life with alcohol but never had this going on I’ve usually been able to just stop and go on with life and now seems to have a good grip on me. Anyone experienced this?

    1. We are not doctors so we can’t give any medical advice. Non-alcoholic beers sound innocent enough, but it actually contains a small amount of alcohol, 0.5% by volume. The other concern is some people have been known to switch to real beer at some point, once they get started, see http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/low-strength-alcohol-beer-wine-increase-consumption-drinking-experts-public-health-a8200221.html. Our suggestion, therefore, is to play it safe and simply avoid it altogether.

  8. I’m an alcoholic who recently went through rehabilitation. After an onset of back pain from a previous injury, a re-injury to my back, and a car accident I started drinking again. It was only because the pain was unbearable and drinking subdued the pain temporarily. Currently going through the medical process of trying to fix my back but wondering if the doctor I’m seeing is doing to right thing. After the pain was unbearable I eventually went to see a doctor and the only one available was not my normal doctor. I was then told it probably wouldn’t work but 4-6 weeks of PT was needed before anything else would be approved. Went back after PT and the doc prescribed me 3 months of gabaprentin knowing I’m an alcoholic along with a handful of other meds. I’m now having to wait 3 more weeks to have a consult for lumbar epidural steroid injections but nothing helps with the pain. Is my doc doing the right thing or what should I do. I know I have a problem which is why I went to treatment but 3 months of an addiction drug that I have never taken seems extreme especially since he knew my background. Asking for guidance

    1. Hello
      We sympathize with your difficult situation. We are not doctors and therefore cannot give any type of medical advice. Talk with your doctor. If you have a sponsor in your recovery program, we suggest you consider talking with them too.

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