Gabapentin Symptoms and Warning Signs

Prescription drug abuse continues to be a growing problem here in the UK, with many of those who have been prescribed medications to treat legitimate health problems going on to develop a crippling addiction. Then there are those who deliberately abuse these powerful drugs to achieve a high or to help them escape from their daily struggles, whatever these may be.

Gabapentin is a medication often prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and restless legs syndrome. It is an anticonvulsant medication that can cause sleepiness but also dizziness. This is a drug that is also commonly abused and one which can lead to addiction.

Some abuse gabapentin without actually realising, while others do it deliberately. In either case, tulerance is a very real possibility. And when tulerance does occur, it can be tempting to take more gabapentin to achieve the desired feelings. However, this can then result in a physical dependence very closely fullowed by addiction, signified by an overwhelming desire to use the drug.

If your use of gabapentin is something that you are struggling to contrul, it may be the case that professional help is required to help you get your life back on track.

Brand Names for Gabapentin

  • Horizant
  • Gabarone
  • Gralise
  • Neurontin
  • Fanatrex

Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Gabapentin Abuse

Gabapentin is increasingly being abused for recreational purposes, but there remain many who unwittingly abuse their medication. The problem is that these individuals do not even realise what constitutes prescription drug abuse.

For example, did you know that if you increase the amount of medication you are taking without advice from a doctor it is classed as abuse? Moreover, did you know that taking medication that was not prescribed for you is also categorised as abuse?

Some individuals will give their prescription medication to other people or will take medication that has been prescribed for another person because they believe it to be safe. Nevertheless, abuse of drugs like gabapentin is dangerous and it can lead to very real problems in all areas of your life.

Think about how you use gabapentin and consider whether you have increased your consumption levels lately. Have you found that you are not getting the same effects that you once did from your medication? If this is the case, it is likely that your brain has adjusted to it and is now releasing fewer dopamine chemicals in response when you take it. Dopamine isa chemical responsible for feelings of pleasure.

An increased tulerance to any drug means you do not get the same effect from it as you did when you first started taking it. You probably thought that the answer to this problem was to increase the dose at each interval or to take the medication at increasingly frequent intervals. Nonetheless, this can obviously result in an increased risk of addiction.

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The Dangers of Gabapentin Abuse

As mentioned above, gabapentin is often used for recreational purposes and is frequently combined with other drugs or alcohal to create feelings of euphoria. But this is extremely dangerous and can have extremely unpleasant side effects. Also, for your information, abuse of gabapentin can have serious implications on mental health and can even invoke suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

As well as this, combining gabapentin with other substances can result in overdose as well as an increased risk of serious complications – and even death.

Furthermore, abuse of gabapentin can lead to a very real and unpleasant physical and psychological addiction, which can have absolute disastrous implications on many areas of your life. For example, if you become preoccupied with taking gabapentin, you are likely to have little time for anything else. You may have lost interest in those activities or hobbies that you once enjoyed, and you may be neglecting your loved ones in favour of using your medication.

Taking higher amounts of gabapentin than prescribed, or mixing it with another mood-altering substance, can cause the side effects to become more pronounced. This can make you incapable of taking care of your responsibilities at home or at work, which will, in turn, have an impact on your relationship with others and your ability to gain or maintain employment. As you might imagine, this can cause serious problems for your finances.

Recognising a Gabapentin Addiction

Use of gabapentin does not always lead to an addiction. Those who take it as prescribed by a doctor over a short period will have a much lower risk of addiction than those who abuse it or take it for a long time.

Nevertheless, there are certain signs to look out for that could indicate you are developing, or have developed, an addiction to gabapentin. For example, if you are becoming increasingly more obsessed with having the drug and are exhibiting drug-seeking behaviour, you could already be on the path to addiction.

If your use of gabapentin is having a negative impact on daily life and on your relationships with others, yet you continue to use the substance, you almost certainly have a dependence and should consider the possibility that you need help to get better.

You might start to neglect yourself too; perhaps you are no longer interested in your hygiene or grooming and would rather spend your time “enjoying” gabapentin’s effects instead. You could become irritable or agitated if you believe you cannot get hold of your medication or if your prescription is coming to an end. You might also begin sourcing gabapentin elsewhere, such as on the streets or online.

Another sign of a gabapentin addiction is an inability to quit or cut back on your use. If you have tried to cut down on the amount of the drug you are taking but found yourself unable to do so, then you more than likely have a problem. You might also have noticed that when in need of the drug or when the effects of it wear off, you experience unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, pain, sweating, anxiety, and insomnia.

Gabapentin Addiction and the Brain

Gabapentin affects the brain and central nervous system. It is known to stabilise electrical activity in the brain, the sort of activity that can contribute to seizures. The way in which it works is not fully understood yet, but it is thought that it influences various neurotransmitters in the brain, stimulating the GABA receptors. GABA is a chemical that can have a calming effect. It is thought that a lack of GABA can lead to conditions such as anxiety, and so gabapentin helps to increase its production by stimulating receptors.

Gabapentin is also thought to reduce the release of glutamate, another neurotransmitter thought to cause epileptic seizures when overproduced.

Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Gabapentin Abuse

Gabapentin is associated with a variety of immediate side effects including:

  • abdominal pain
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • unsteadiness
  • uncontrulled eye movements
  • aggression
  • depression
  • hyperactivity
  • restlessness
  • sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea

Learn the Long-Term Gabapentin Abuse Side Effects

The fullowing are some of the long-term side effects of gabapentin:

  • Increased risk of addiction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Kidney damage
  • Suicidal thoughts

Intervention for a Gabapentin Addiction

Those who take prescription drugs, such as gabapentin, for the treatment of medical conditions rarely consider the fact that they might end up with an addiction. It is possible though, but it is often up to loved ones to recognise the signs.

The way in which mood-altering substances, including prescription medication, can affect the brain makes it harder for those with addictions to see the reality of their situation. If you are worried that someone you love is addicted to Gabapentin, it is important to raise the issue with this person.

The affected individual might be shocked and surprised that you would even consider the possibility, but explaining the changes in his or her behaviour could help him or her actually recognise the problem. The sooner your loved one can accept that his or her use of gabapentin is causing problems, the sooner help can be sought to rectify the situation.

Detox and Withdrawal from Gabapentin

As we mentioned above a couple of times, gabapentin is a substance that affects certain areas of the brain, meaning that it is possible to build up a tolerance to it. If you couple this with the fact that it is easy to develop a physical dependence on it whereby withdrawal symptoms are common should the user suddenly stop taking it, you can appreciate how dangerous the situation is for the affected person.

And while it is dangerous to abuse mood-altering drugs, it is never a good idea to suddenly stop taking them without advice. If you are keen to overcome an addiction to gabapentin, you will likely need to complete a detox before you can get started on rehabilitation.

Detox programmes are available in dedicated facilities where any symptoms you experience will be minimised and treated effectively, and where staff will ensure your comfort and safety at all times.

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Treatment and Next Steps

It is important that you get help to overcome a gabapentin addiction. There is a reason you became dependent on this medication and it is vital that you learn what that reason is. This is the only way you can avoid a return to addiction in the future.

With the use of various therapies, counsellors will work closely with you to get to the root of your illness and to help you develop new coping strategies. These will help you deal with negative thought patterns and processes.

Treatment for addiction takes place in either an inpatient or outpatient facility. If your addiction is not severe and you are keen to be around the people you love while you recover, you might benefit from an outpatient programme. If you want to get started immediately though and are hoping to recover in the shortest time possible, an inpatient programme is your best option.

Questions about Treatment

What if I’m not bad enough for rehab?

You might believe that your addiction is not severe enough to even warrant a programme of rehabilitation; it could be just so. Perhaps you are in danger of becoming addicted but would benefit from some help with quitting.

You will not know for sure until you speak to a professional. You should also know that the sooner you seek help, the better your chances are of a full recovery. You do not have to reach a certain stage to benefit from rehabilitation. Beginning treatment as soon as possible will give you the best chance of regaining control of your life.

Do I need to take time off work?

If you are working and in need of treatment, it is important that you weigh up your options in terms of the type of programme you choose. If you believe that you cannot get time off work, you could consider an outpatient programme that you can attend to in addition to your job.

Nevertheless, this might not be an effective solution if you have a severe addiction and would find it difficult to stay sober in the real world. What you should remember is that addiction is an illness of the brain, and you are entitled to take time off work for treatment. If you need a certificate for your employer, our doctor can provide one for you.

Can you guarantee that I will recover?

Addiction is an illness that cannot be cured. However, you can fully recover if you are prepared to commit to a programme of recovery and work hard to maintain your sobriety when you leave the clinic.

Nonetheless, relapse is not inevitable. Many people have managed to complete a comprehensive recovery programme and gone on to live productive and healthy sober lives – and you can too. Trust rehabilitation clinics that do not use a one-size-fits-all therapy.

What happens in a residential cpnic?

Residential programmes are structured and concentrated and give you the opportunity to recover from addiction in the shortest amount of time. It is not possible to say what will happen exactly as each provider has their own way of running things. You should know though that you will be fully immersed in a recovery programme from the moment you arrive.

Each day will be packed with treatments, seminars, and other recovery activities to help you overcome your illness. You will have around-the-clock care and support from a team of fully-trained staff members and will be taught work and life skills as well as how to avoid a relapse when you return home.

Do I have to detox?

Detox is the process that takes place if you have a physical addiction to gabapentin. It is important that you have completed this process before attempting rehabilitation because the withdrawal symptoms you experience could make you feel quite unwell and unable to concentrate on anything else.

Rehab can be an emotional time and you will need to have a clear mind and body when you begin treatment.

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Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.