Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a prescription drug commonly prescribed to treat neuropathic pain and seizures. Gabapentin works by increasing the available amount of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. When this amino acid attaches to its corresponding receptor, anti-convulsant effects and feelings of calm and relaxation are induced.
Currently, gabapentin is not classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a controlled substance because the drug has been shown to have minimal potential for abuse or addiction. Despite this, researchers have posed concerns about gabapentin’s safety and potential for dependence.
Moreover, the popular position is that gabapentin use (or even misuse) is less problematic than that associated with many other substances. However, some who use it report experiencing feelings of well-being, an effect that could be appealing to would-be recreational drug users—especially since it has been reported to intensify the effects of other drugs, including opioids and alcohol.
Dangers of Snorting Gabapentin
As noted, gabapentin is not a controlled substance, but there has been some evidence that is can and does get abused. One of the characteristic signs of a developing gabapentin addiction is the misuse of the drug in ways in which it was not intended. These ways most commonly include snorting or smoking the drug.
To prepare gabapentin for snorting, users will crush the tablets and inhale the remaining powder into the nasal passages. Regardless of whether a user snorts, smokes, or consumes gabapentin orally, it can produce some problematic effects, which may include the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Panic attacks
- Anger and aggression
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Unusual behavior
- Mood changes
There are also other adverse effects that gabapentin abuse can induce, including the following:
- Double vision
- Memory impairments
- Impaired motor function
- Uncontrollable shaking or tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Edema in hands and feet
- Muscle aches
- Weight gain
Why Do Users Snort Gabapentin?
Addiction is often facilitated, in part, by the development of tolerance. When tolerance occurs, the person will begin to need to use ever-increasing amounts of a drug to achieve the sought-after effects that prior doses once provided.
Along with tolerance often comes dependence, a condition in which a person’s body has become adapted to a substance’s presence, and unwanted and painful withdrawal symptoms manifest when the use of a substance is suddenly stopped. Acute withdrawal can drive a person to return to drug use even while they are attempting to quit.
Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms, although not particularly severe compared to those of many other psychoactive substances, can be unpleasant and include nausea and fatigue. If a person is using the drug to manage seizure activity, he or she can expect to experience an increase in seizures when they discontinue use. For this reason and others, most people choose to wean themselves off of gabapentin under the direction of a medical professional. This method can effectively reduce the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms.
Finally, addiction will have developed when a user begins to engage in compulsive behaviors related to the attainment and use of a substance. An addicted person will proceed to abuse the drug despite the incurrence of adverse consequences on mental and physical health, career, relationships, finances, etc.
How Is Gabapentin Addictive?
Whenever a new pharmaceutical is introduced to the market, there is always going to be some concern surrounding its potential for abuse and dependence. As such, scientists will examine how the substance interacts with nerve receptors in the brain. The activation of certain receptors may lead to a determination that a drug does indeed have the potential for abuse or addiction and may elicit obsessive, drug-seeking behavior.
Although gabapentin is widely thought to be nonaddictive, some anecdotal reports have put forth concerns. For example, one study described a case of gabapentin abuse in which the person encountered “toxic delirium, intense cravings, and a prolonged post-withdrawal.”
It’s also essential to note that any psychoactive substance has some potential for emotional dependence. And this fact is true, regardless of whether any actual chemical dependence is possible. Problems that can result from a purely psychological reliance on gabapentin include cravings, agitation, anxiety, and depression.
Treatment for Gabapentin Abuse and Addiction
For those who are abusing gabapentin or other substances, it is vital to seek professional help as soon as possible. An individual who is abusing gabapentin is at a heightened risk of doing so in combination with other drugs or alcohol. If this is the case, there is potentially one or more other problems that deserve to be addressed, as well.
Just Believe Recovery offers integrated, evidence-based services, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Individual and family counseling
- Peer group support
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness programs
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Aftercare planning
If you or someone you love needs help breaking free from the prison of substance abuse or addiction, contact us today! We are committed to providing our clients with the tools and support they need to be successful at recovery and reclaim the healthy, fulfilling lives they deserve!