Gabapentin High: The anticonvulsant medication Gabapentin (Neurontin) is approved as a supplemental treatment for epileptic seizures and neuropathic pain. It is not a narcotic.
Gabapentin helps to regulate the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which in turn calms down excited nerve cells in the brain.
In the U.S. it’s also marketed under the brand names:
It has come under increasing scrutiny for abuse and misuse.
- Gabapentin is 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.
Can you get high on Gabapentin? The answer is a qualified “YES.”
“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.
- The drug sometimes goes by the name “gabbies” on the street.
A growing number of emergency rooms across the country have started scanning for gabapentin, in addition to other drugs. Patients admitted to the hospital for an overdose on unknown substances are now being checked for Gabapentin.
According to the NIH, “Gabapentin was primarily misused for recreational purposes, self-medication, or intentional self-harm and was misused alone or in combination with other substances, especially opioids, benzodiazepines, and/or alcohol. Individuals with histories of drug abuse were most often involved in its misuse.”
Is Gabapentin a Controlled Substance?
Gabapentin is not scheduled as a controlled substance currently because when taken as prescribed, it will not make you high.
Gabapentin is a Schedule V controlled substance in Kentucky, effective July 1, 2017. Kentucky is the only state currently listing Gabapentin as a controlled substance. The DEA and other states are currently investigating the addictive qualities of Gabapentin.
Healthcare professionals, law enforcement officials and state and federal legislatures, have started the debate about whether gabapentin should be a controlled substance.
Can Gabapentin Be Abused?
Users need to take large doses that are significantly greater than the therapeutic, medically-approved maximum daily dose of in order to get high.
This medication has shown little potential for abuse on its own. This is one of the reasons that the gabapentin has stayed under the radar and remained off the federal drug schedule.
Research shows that mixed with other drugs, gabapentin does have the potential for illicit abuse.
Gabapentin High Effects
The effects of the drug vary from person to person. It depends 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.
Not Always A Positive Experience
The effect of this drug varies widely between users.
Some recreational Gabapentin users report feeling no effects whatsoever from Gabapentin.
Others have negative experiences that include headaches, nausea, anxiety, rashes, and trouble urinating.
Smoking & Snorting Gabapentin
If recreational Gabapentin users crush up tablets and try and smoke or snort it, it doesn’t work.
Gabapentin is dispensed in a tablet, capsule or liquid. 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.
Gabapentin High – Benzodiazepines & Opioids
Gabapentin suppresses nerve pain, essentially calming users. It’s often abused with 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 spiked.
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. Most adult medical users of Gabapentin take much less than the approved daily maximum.
It’s usually not possible to overdose on Gabapentin, although 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.
What Happens If Gabapentin and Alcohol Are Mixed?
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