Wondering what happens when Gabapentin and alcohol are combined? The answer is not completely black or white.
- 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.
- Alcohol is likely to limit the effectiveness of the drug and the combination of the two drugs can result in some very serious side effects.
Alcohol and Gabapentin are drugs that potentiate each other. Potentiation means when the drugs interact in the human body, each increases the effects caused by the other drug.
For alcohol, this means the alcoholic high is stronger and kicks in with less alcohol. It also means, for both drugs, side effects common with these drugs are equally heightened.
Despite being contraindicated, it is common for people taking Gabapentin to be interested in consuming alcohol. This interest has resulted in a small community who intentionally mix the two drugs in order to enjoy the resulting high and side effects. Like any prescription abuse, this is a dangerous course of action that can potentially result in hospitalization or worse.
- There is some research when drinking in moderation and taking Gabapentin as prescribed, may be okay. It does not, however, mean that mixing the drugs is safe.
- The average person should avoid mixing them.
The good news about mixing them is unless a person overdoses on one or both, it is unlikely the combination will kill them. And while overdosing is easier when combining the drugs than when taken separately, it is unlikely.
Alcohol is a depressant that decreases motor functions and responsiveness. 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. Other possible side effects may include;
- Loss of coordination
- Extreme drowsiness
- Loss of memory
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
Falling is just one of the possible results from the following side effects that are heightened when mixing these drugs.
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 their vicinity.
In a recent study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, showed;
“Evidence from single-site studies lend support to the safety and efficacy of gabapentin as a novel treatment for alcohol use disorder, with unique benefits for alcohol-related insomnia and negative affect, relative to available treatments.”
- This is probably largely due to the sedating and anxiety-reducing effects Gabapentin has on many of its users.
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 double-blind study of the effect of gabapentin on alcohol consumption, for treating alcoholism, in a clinical laboratory setting.
- “…the study provided certain evidence gabapentin is safe if used in conjunction with alcohol consumption in alcoholic individuals.”