Treatment For Gabapentin (Neurontin) Addiction

There are multiple treatment options for those experiencing a Gabapentin use disorder, but Gabapentin abuse can be challenging to spot as it often coincides with other substances like Opioids. Gabapentin, an anticonvulsant and nerve pain medication, is often prescribed to help control seizures or convulsions in the treatment of epilepsy. It is also used to minimize alcohol and Cocaine withdrawal symptoms and for pain management of neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain often results from nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system and is present in conditions like postherpetic neuralgia, or pain that occurs after shingles and restless leg syndrome. While FDA approved for the ailments above, physicians often prescribe Gabapentin as an Opioid replacement for pain management. Despite its low abuse potential, Gabapentin’s ability to be used with other drugs increases the risk of misuse and abuse.

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Combining Gabapentin With Other Drugs

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Gabapentin use has steadily risen, and prescription rates doubled from 2011 to 2017. Gabapentin dependence and withdrawal are most common among those using at least one other substance. Combining more than one drug at a time is known as polydrug use, and it can intensify or create new highs. For those who use Opioids or Cocaine, Gabapentin is used to amplify the high or to help alleviate Cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

This duality of Gabapentin’s use between aid and enabler leads to individuals missing signs of misuse or abuse.

In 2019, the FDA called for updated labels for Gabapentinoids that include new warnings of potential respiratory depressant effects. Gabapentinoid products include Gabapentin, which is marketed as Neurontin and Gralise, and generics like Gabapentin Enacarbil and Pregabalin. This decision came as reports indicated that Gabapentinoid abuse alone and with Opioids has led to respiratory depression and increased risk of Opioid overdose death. As of 2019, the FDA requires drug manufacturers to conduct clinical trials to evaluate the abuse potential of Gabapentinoids in combination with Opioids.

Gabapentin-Specific Treatment Centers

While considering treatment for substance abuse is a feat in itself, the next obstacle is finding a treatment center that satisfies one’s needs and desires. This decision can depend on multiple variables like location, price, and services offered. Thankfully, countless qualified treatment centers are well-versed in Gabapentin treatment. While there are stand-alone cases of Gabapentin abuse, most treatment centers target co-occurring disorders that include Gabapentin. The following is a brief description of the various levels of care for Gabapentin use disorder treatment.

Featured Centers Offering Treatment For Gabapentin Addiction

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehabs offer the structured environment and the around-the-clock supervision that is often needed to assist individuals in their recovery. The length of time one stays at an inpatient rehab can range from 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or even longer, and is contingent on several factors like the severity of the addiction or co-occurring mental conditions. For those experiencing polydrug abuse, choosing an inpatient rehab facility allows an individual to receive treatment for each drug being abused. This targeted approach enables physicians and counselors to have a well-rounded approach when treating addiction’s physical and psychological symptoms. For instance, if one is abusing Gabapentin in combination with other substances, like alcohol or Cocaine, only treating for Gabapentin may result in relapse since the other contributing factors are not being addressed.

Comprehensive inpatient rehabs will combine various methods to address Gabapentin abuse, but most will begin with a medically supervised detox. During detox, the dosage of Gabapentin is tapered gradually to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms, and medical support and supervision are available around-the-clock. Gabapentin withdrawal usually begins between 12 hours and 7 days after the last dose, and most saw withdrawal symptoms within 24 to 48 hours. While the severity of Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms ranges widely, some of the most common symptoms to expect for Gabapentin include agitation, confusion, and disorientation. Additional common symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

Beyond medically supervised detox, inpatient rehabs offer many treatment approaches for those experiencing Gabapentin use disorder. These approaches can include attending therapy sessions, group meetings, or recreational activities. Such activities provide opportunities for socialization and decompression from the topics covered in treatments. Additional common treatments in inpatient programs include 12-step programs, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT), and recreational therapies like art or music therapy.

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Ongoing Treatment For Gabapentin Addiction

Individuals with mild-to-moderate Gabapentin abuse concerns may opt for an outpatient rehab program, although completing a medically assisted detox and inpatient program beforehand is recommended. Not everyone has the opportunity to leave their jobs or their day-to-day responsibilities, so outpatient rehab is another viable and accessible option for those with varying schedules. Outpatient rehab offers counseling, education, and a network of support for individuals motivated to stop using while also remaining flexible in their plans.

Do I Need Treatment?

While there are low reports of individuals abusing only Gabapentin, it is not unheard of. Gabapentin use can create a physical and psychological dependence even when prescribed despite its low likelihood of abuse. While dependence doesn’t equate to addiction, understanding what addiction to Gabapentin looks like aids in identifying its abuse. According to the US National Library of Medicine, these signs include extreme confusion or lethargy, jerky movements, shallow or difficulty breathing, and unresponsiveness. Of the most concerning, excessive Gabapentin use can result in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In addition to these physical symptoms of abuse, behavioral warning signs can indicate an underlying problem with prescription medication like Gabapentin. These primary signs include:

  • Going to multiple doctors to attempt to secure multiple prescriptions; known as “doctor shopping.”
  • Lying about one’s symptoms to a doctor in an attempt to get prescribed Gabapentin.
  • Changing social habits and friend groups.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene.
  • Refusing to quit despite negative consequences.
  • Multiple failed attempts to quit using.

As previously mentioned, combining Gabapentin with other substances will exacerbate these signs of addiction.

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Finding Treatment

While there is no single correct way to approach finding a treatment facility for Gabapentin abuse, accepting that one needs help is the first step in the process. Multiple factors can dictate if an individual will choose an inpatient facility, an outpatient facility, or a sober living home, but one of the most important factors to consider is that a facility addresses one’s needs and desires. Recovery is a lifelong process, so take the time to contact a treatment provider today.

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Author

Carmen McCrackin

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  • Carmen McCrackin earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Auburn and has over 3 years of professional writing experience. Her passion for writing and educating others led her to a career in journalism with a focus on mental health and social justice topics. Her main mission is to be a platform for all voices and stories, and to provide tangible resources to those seeking recovery for themselves or loved ones.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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