Can You Get High on Gabapentin / Neurontin?
Picture this: You’ve been crushing work all day, you get home and just collapse on the couch, ready to relax for days.
If you’re like me, this is a daily routine. And, yet, with so many obligations and responsibilities in life, I find it harder to truly relax anymore. Maybe you’ve been stressed about work-related matters and you need to unwind.
Some people like drinking tea to calm their minds while others prefer to drink milk or even wine. But others need something a bit stronger.
Lately, recreational use of Gabapentin (aka Neurontin) is becoming more and more popular. If you are not familiar with Gabapentin—but curious about it—read on.
In this article:
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a pharmaceutical drug approved in 1993 as a treatment for epilepsy. It was also found to be effective when used with other anticonvulsants.
It was approved in 2004 for treating neuropathic pain, pain that comes from problems with how signals are channeled from the nerves. It has been shown to be more effective in this area than traditional painkillers.
Gabapentin is structurally similar to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), however it doesn’t bind to GABA receptors. Gabapentin is thought to be helpful in treating neuropathic pain due to its ability to bind to the a-2-delta subset of voltage-dependent calcium channels.
Although double-blind studies have been conducted, Gabapentin has not been proven to act as a mood stabilizer. Despite this fact, Gabapentin is regularly implemented in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Additionally, Gabapentin has been approved in the US to treat seizures. It is considered to be an anti-epileptic medication that is embraced by the Epilepsy Foundation.
Because of its anticonvulsant and analgesic properties, Gabapentin is used to improve recovery by reducing post-operative nausea and easing post-surgery pains.
What is Neurontin and how Does it Work?
Neurontin might be a name that you’ve heard before (also called Gabapentin).
The drug is used to treat seizures and pain and is actually a brand name of the generic drug Gabapentin. That’s not the only use, however.
Psychiatrists have explored the use of Gabapentin for treating depression, mania, and anxiety, though it is not currently approved for this use in the United States.
Still, that mood-altering potential is what has attracted the eye of some recreational drug users.
The generic form of Neurontin, Gabapentin, was discovered more than 40 years ago by Japanese researchers with specific intentions of creating an anticonvulsant muscle relaxer.
It was later found to be useful for the treatment of epileptic seizures and has been employed for that purpose ever since. Neurontin is an anticonvulsant drug used to treat seizures associated with epilepsy.
It is also approved for postherpetic neuralgia and restless leg syndrome. There is a long list of off-label uses, several of which are psychiatric disorders.
As for how Neurontin works, it interacts with the neurotransmitter GABA, but the specifics of how it can alter the brain and body are otherwise unknown.
It is normally ingested via oral tablets of varying strengths, and dosages for the drug can get as high as 6,000 milligrams daily.
The kidneys help to filter Neurontin from the body, and lower doses are advised for those with kidney problems.
As mentioned, Neurontin has several approved uses that include controlling seizures and neuropathic pain.
Off-label, however, researchers have explored its potential for treating psychiatric and mood disorders.
Currently, it is believed that Neurontin can help ease symptoms of depression, bi-polar disorder, and anxiety as well, with relatively minor side effects when compared to other drugs used for the same purposes.
It was approved for use in the United States in 1993, and the generic form has been available since 2004. The off-label uses, however, are the ones that recreational users are more interested in.
You might recall Pfizer, the company that distributes Neurontin, getting into some hot water for marketing the drug for its off-label uses, which may account for a large majority of its sales.
These off-label uses include the treatment of bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. How do users feel about the possible Neurontin high and its potential as a mood enhancer?
GABA is a neurotransmitter in our central nervous system. Inhibitory in nature, it slows down activities in our brain and CNS (central nervous system), acting as a natural tranquilizer. Hence, the calming effect that Gabapentin can have on even casual users.
Gabapentin works via modulation of GABA synthesis.
Some studies suggest that Gabapentin is an anxiolytic (antianxiety agent) that works well because of the GABA effects.
One report even suggests that Gabapentin behaves like Valium. These factors, plus the fact that drug users are commonly attracted to substances that inhibit activities of the central nervous system, may be why Gabapentin has become a target for recreational use and abuse.
Why is Gabapentin Becoming More Popular?
Gabapentin has become a popular recreational drug over the past few years. It has already been on the market for more than 20 years now. While some take it as prescribed, many have also experimented with its dosage.
While it doesn’t have the exact effect that Valium does, Gabapentin has been used recreationally because of its subtle analgesic effects.
The rise in recreational use may seem bizarre because it is not grouped with typical substances of abuse. But its potential for abuse, tolerance and addiction are higher than most would expect and, certainly, more than has been acknowledged by the medical community.
Recreational users often take handfuls of Gabapentin at a time in order to achieve a drunken effect. When taken in excess of recommended dosage, Gabapentin leads to a loss of motor skills and can cause dizziness and sedation.
In a study of urine samples from 323 patients being treated at addiction treatment centers, 70 patients were found to be taking Gabapentin without a prescription.
It is easy to see why Gabapentin has been targeted for recreational use. Here are some of the other reasons for Gabapentin’s popularity: It’s dirt cheap.
For about 120 pills, you won’t have to pay more than $20 (less than 60 cents per pill on average). Many recreational drug users can easily afford this. Even if they get marked up, the cost will not be too high because Gabapentin is readily accessible and available.
It is easy to obtain. It is available via prescription. Plus, you can refill prescriptions electronically even without a doctor. This is another reason why it is different from those drugs which are subject to strict regulation.
It has minimal side effects. Gabapentin is not associated with lots of unwanted side effects. It has common side effects like drowsiness, dizziness and lack of coordination. However, what makes it appealing is that the side effects do not include teeth grinding or restlessness.[Caveat: Mixing Gabapentin with alcohol can result in extreme agitation and violent tendencies. Speaking from personal experience, mixing just one low milligram Gabapentin capsule with more than two 12-oz. beers can lead to irrational anger and physical violence.]
It is not a “controlled substance.” It is not classified, unlike similar drugs. Gabapentin is not documented as a drug that has significant potential for abuse. This makes it legal to take via prescription. Consequently, it is e