What has been hailed as a “wonder drug” is now of the most commonly prescribed medications for people with nerve pain, seizures, insomnia or anxiety. It’s called Neurontin and is more commonly known by its generic name, Gabapentin. Over the last few years, Neurontin has become one of the more widely prescribed medications for people in rehab settings.
But what happens when a person becomes addicted to their medication that is supposed to help heal them? Is it possible for people to develop a Neurontin addiction?
As of right now, Neurontin is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in prisons, jails, and substance abuse treatment centers, as it is deemed a less addictive alternative than opioid medications, and when taken properly, can greatly help people who suffer from chronic pain. Many people in rehab settings have experienced chronic pain from car accidents, fights, self-harm, work-related accidents, etc.
What is Neurontin?
Originally, Neurontin was developed as an anticonvulsant, aimed towards subduing certain nerves and chemical interactions in the body that led to nerve pain and even seizures. Approved in 1993, the drug stayed relatively quiet on the market besides for people with epilepsy, nerve damage from shingles, or diabetic nerve pain.
Since then, it has become heralded for its benefits in aiding people who struggle with anxiety and opioid addiction. The most common side effects of Neurontin are:
- Mood swings
However, research has shown that more and more people are starting to use the drug for outside purposes, and even for recreational use, as more and more cases of Neurontin addiction have been popping up around the country.
While the benefits of Neurontin are still aiding thousands of people dealing with chronic pain and epilepsy, the drug has proven to have addictive qualities, and when used in excess, can create a feeling of euphoria through relaxation, similar to exactly what an opioid user would want.
People are falling victim to Neurontin addiction most commonly by mistake, especially when they are prescribed other medications in combination with their Gabapentin. The drug proves to be even more powerful when combined with other CNS depressants such as:
- Muscle Relaxants
The danger here comes when people unknowingly mix their Neurontin with other prescribed medications, and especially when mixed with alcohol, find themselves much higher than anticipated.
The Benefits and the Downfalls
Although the dangers of Neurontin addiction are well noted and well documented, the rates of Gabapentin medications keep increasing annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still hail Neurontin as a much safer alternative than prescribing people opioids, and there is no doubt there that yes, it might be.
However, Gabapentin and Neurontin abuse has become so popular in the rehab setting and has led so many people into addiction, that it is now known as the most abused drug in prison and rehab systems, as so many people are prescribed to it already. It is also commonly prescribed in large doses for months at a time, with the minimum dosage amount for most people being around 900-1800 mg per day.
When combined with other antipsychotics, opioids, or antidepressant medications, Neurontin addiction can occur quickly. However, when taken on its own, and especially for people who take it for chronic pain, over medication can often occur.
Some of the most common side effects of Neurontin addiction are:
- Aggression and Irritability
- Mood Swings
- Panic Attacks
- New or worsening Depression and Anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts
How to Know if You are Addicted to Neurontin
Just like with any other drug addiction, whether it be to a prescribed medication or to a drug off the street, the signs of addiction are always along the same lines. Primarily, the person in question, either you or your loved one, will start to obsessively require and seek out the drug or medication.
One of the most puzzling aspects of Neurontin addiction and any other addiction is when the person continues to abuse the drug despite any negative consequences they might have experienced from it. This could be either a medical side effect, a financial side effect, or a psychological side effect.
For example, if a person has been abusing their Neurontin and they find that it gives them severe depression, so they continue to use more and more to try and counteract the side effect, or if they start to combine it with other drugs or alcohol, this could be a sign of Neurontin addiction.
The drug could even start to affect external areas of their life, such as relationships, school, work, and other responsibilities. If you or your loved one become more focused on having, taking, and needing their Gabapentin, there is most likely a Neurontin addiction at play.
Overdosing on Neurontin
Unlike many other drugs that are fairly identifiable when used in dangerous amounts, a Neurontin overdose can have very mild visual side effects. For example, heroin overdoses often include passing out, inability to breathe, and the skin turning blue.
Neurontin overdoses, however, can often just mimic their usual drowsy, fatigued side effects. A severe Neurontin user will often have to take very much of the medication in order to get the desired effect. However, when mixed with other drugs, as mentioned before, Neurontin addiction can very easily slip into an overdose.
The most common side effects of a Neurontin overdose are:
- Slurred speech
- Double vision
- Uncontrollable tremors and body movements
- Respiratory Distress
Recovery from a Neurontin addiction is possible, just like with any other drug. Although it is often prescribed as a medication to help treat other drug addictions, it is still dangerous and can still lead to addiction.
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