Are you curious about whether someone can get high on Gabapentin? Are you wondering what happens if you mix Gabapentin and alcohol, if you snort Gabapentin, or smoke Gabapentin? Here’s what you need to know about a Gabapentin high, how it’s used, and whether or not you can OD on Gabapentin.
What Gabapentin Is
The anticonvulsant medication Gabapentin, approved as a supplemental treatment for epileptic seizures and neuropathic pain caused by shingles, has come under increasing scrutiny for abuse and misuse. Healthcare professionals, along with law enforcement officials and state and federal legislatures, have started the debate about whether the Drug Enforcement Administration needs to schedule gabapentin as a controlled substance.
Coming in at number 24 on the list of the 25 most prescribed medications in the United States, according to Forbes, Gabapentin prescriptions are up a staggering 58.38 percent since 2010.
Gabapentin is not a narcotic. It is a prescription medication used to treat epilepsy and chronic neuropathic pain caused by amputations, diabetes, shingles, and other conditions. In the U.S., it’s also marketed under the brand name Neurontin, Gralise, and Horizant.
Gabapentin helps to regulate the release of the neurotransmitter called glutamate, which in turn calms down excited nerve cells in the brain – this can reduce neuropathic pain, seizures, and restless leg syndrome.
Does Taking Gabapentin Get You High?
According to researchers in the U.K., “Gabapentin is now prevalent as a drug of abuse…”
Can you get high on Gabapentin? The answer is a qualified “YES”.
Gabapentin is not scheduled as a controlled substance currently because when taken as prescribed, it will not make you high. Individuals who do report getting high on Gabapentin report feeling, “euphoria, improved sociability, a marijuana-like high, relaxation, and a sense of calm”.
The effect of this drug varies widely between users. Some recreational Gabapentin users report feeling no effects whatsoever from Gabapentin, while others have negative experiences that include headaches, nausea, anxiety, rashes, and trouble urinating.
Gabapentin Recreational Use
Users report that to get high on Gabapentin, they need to take doses that are significantly greater than the therapeutic, medically-approved maximum daily dose of 3600mg taken orally, divided into 3-1200mg dosages for treatment of severe epileptic seizures.
“Unfortunately, our clinical experience suggests that gabapentin is now prevalent as a drug of abuse,” writes lead author Blair H. Smith in The British Journal of General Practice. The study, supported in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, charted a rise in the number of patients in primary care that admit to misusing or abusing gabapentin, which sometimes goes by the name “gabbies” on the street.
Getting A Gabapentin High
On its own, the medication has shown little potential for abuse. This is one of the reasons that the gabapentin has stayed under the radar and remained off the federal drug schedule. Continued research, though, shows that mixed with other drugs, gabapentin can have the potential for illicit abuse.
The effects of the drug vary from person to person, depending on an individual’s psychiatric history, past drug usage, dosage and a number of other factors. Evidence suggests that when misused, gabapentin can bring about some of the following:
- Relaxation and a sense of calm
- Improved sociability with others
- Marijuana-like high
- Feelings of euphoria
- Psychedelic-type experiences in much larger doses
These seemingly enjoyable side effects can turn on users. There are many reports that abusing gabapentin can also lead to zombie-like states. A growing number of emergency rooms across the country have started scanning for gabapentin, in addition to other drugs, on patients admitted to the hospital for an overdose on unknown substances.
How It Works, Medically
Because of gabapentin’s suppresses nerve pain, essentially calming users, it’s often abused alongside of opioid painkillers, like oxycontin, oxycodone or Vicodin. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Alprazolam, medications prescribed for anxiety have also been popular with recreational gabapentin users.
The use of gabapentin as cutting agent in heroin has also spiked. It’s important to note that misusing gabapentin, opioids or benzodiazepines, alone or in combination is extremely dangerous. As the British Journal of General Practice study reports, “Like opiates, gabapentin is fatal in overdose; unlike opiates, there is no antidote…” In other words, Narcan, used to revive patients suffering an opioid overdose, will not work if the opioid is mixed with a sufficient amount of gabapentin.
Can You Overdose on Gabapentin?
Recreational Gabapentin use is widely considered to be ‘safe’ by users because the chances of overdosing are low when compared to other drugs.
It’s important to note than most adult medical users of Gabapentin take much less than the approved daily maximum – for example, people who take Gabapentin for nerve pain should take no more than 1800mg daily, while adults being treated for restless less syndrome take no more than 600mg of time-released Gabapentin (known as Horizant) each day.
That’s not to say that it’s not possible to OD on Gabapentin – in one case, a 62-year-old woman was deemed to have died due to “intentional ingestion of excess Gabapentin” during an autopsy, and a number of other deaths have been linked to Gabapentin overdose. This could be partially because taking high doses of Gabapentin can cause users to feel suicidal.
Snorting Gabapentin to Get High
While it’s technically possible to crush up Gabapentin tablets and smoke it or snort it, recreational Gabapentin users for one simple reason rarely do this – it doesn’t work.
Gabapentin is dispensed in a tablet, capsule, or suspension (like cough syrup) because the active ingredients are metabolized in the small intestine – if the drug doesn’t pass through the digestive system, it will not be absorbed into the body.
What Happens If You Mix Gabapentin and Alcohol?
Mixing alcohol with Gabapentin is risky for Gabapentin users because both alcohol and Gabapentin cause sedation, loss of balance, and a suppression of brain activity.
Taking high doses of Gabapentin with alcohol can result in unpleasant symptoms like nausea, dizziness, skin rashes, headaches, and erratic blood sugar levels. Drinking alcohol and taking Gabapentin can also make users feel anxious, agitated, and in extreme cases, experience seizures.
Off-label Use of Gabapentin
Despite the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval for gabapentin as an epileptic and neuropathic painkiller for shingles, many physicians prescribe it for other conditions. This practice, known as an off-label prescription, is not illegal. However, it can be problematic because there’s often little to no data suggesting the drug is effective for other uses.
Some of off-label uses are for conditions such as the following:
- Bipolar disorder
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