Gabapentin and Alcohol…what is the difference?
Gabapentin has long been used as a drug to treat seizures and convulsions. Initially, the drug was used for its antispasmodic action as an immediate treatment for convulsions. It helps in the relaxation of muscles and therefore is also used as an anti-epileptic medicine.
Gabapentin works in conjunction with gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a chemical in the brain. Both function as neurotransmitters that slow down the brain’s activity.
Many prodrugs, a biologically inactive compound which can be metabolized in the body, to produce the drug of gabapentin have also been used to treat conditions like Restless Leg Syndrome and nerve pain due to shingles. Gabapentin adjusts the electrical activity of the nervous system and works to alleviate nerve pain.
Today, the drug is being widely used to treat patients with nerve pain, or even epilepsy. However, it should be noted that it also has a host of side effects. Some of these side effects are:
- Lack of concentration
- Blurry sight
- Sexual dysfunction
- Digestive problems
Also, bear in mind that there are restrictions that should be adhered to on this medication. Below, we’ll examine some common effects that result from mixing alcohol and gabapentin.
Mixing gabapentin and alcohol
If you are experiencing any sort of nervous pain, convulsions, seizures, or epilepsy, there’s a high chance that you are being treated with a gabapentinoid.
If this is the case, it’s imperative to understand that there are some crucial things that need to be observed when you are taking this medicine.
Gabapentin acts as a chemical that hampers the brain’s electrical activity to reduce nerve pain. It slows down the nervous system by inhibiting neurotransmitters.
The decreased nervous system sends and receives delayed messages, which may also deliver some side effects.
In short, gabapentin acts as a central nervous system depressant. Therefore, mixing it with alcohol can lead to some undesirable results.
Alcohol is another nervous system depressant that decelerates the nervous process. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to impaired cognitive function, a slow nervous system, blurred vision, and hampered movement.
If alcohol is consumed beyond recommended thresholds, it can also have a sedative effect.
Gabapentin and alcohol are both CNS depressants. Consuming alcohol while following a prescribed gabapentin routine can therefore have adverse effects.
When consumed in excess, alcohol is known to cause increased CNS and respiratory depression. Coupled with another depressant like gabapentin, these effects can be exacerbated.
When consuming alcohol and gabapentin together, respiratory depression can especially become a higher risk for older people or people with prevailing medical conditions.
combination can produce a high nervous system depressing action, leading to direct effects like:
- Drowsiness or dizziness
- Vomiting and Nausea
- Impaired bodily function
Engaging in activities that require neuromuscular coordination after consuming these in tandem can result in increased high risk.
For example, driving a car in such an impaired state can lead to accidents. Further, alcohol and gabapentin together can worsen the effects that each of them present on their own, and remarkably increase the risk of overdose, or even death in worst case scenarios.
Is gabapentin addictive? Can it be abused?
As mentioned, gabapentin is a CNS depressant, meaning that it slows down the work of the neural network and calms down the nervous system.
This relaxes the individual and can lead to a certain “high” that can be compared to the effects of cannabis, which places the user in a state of euphoria and an “elevated state of mind”. Gabapentin can promote such psychoactive effects and therefore can, unfortunately, be easily abused.
It has also been found that gabapentin can induce withdrawal symptoms for those who have been taking the drug regularly once they cease taking it.
The withdrawal symptoms include excess sweating, fatigue, behavioural problems, and trembling.
A gabapentin-induced high, in fact, will not even show up on a ground-level drug screening.
Ever since its approval in 1993, gabapentin has been a prescription drug that is commonly used to treat patients with neuropathic pain or epilepsy.
This means that it is in constant circulation and can be easily accessed. The drug is also used with escalating doses in many cases, and thus the risk of abuse increases remarkably.
As well as being procured from medical facilities, it is also sold on the black market.
For abusers of the drug, gabapentin is mostly not taken on its own. It is often mixed with other substances like opioids or other drugs to improve and increase the euphoria-inducing effects.
Basically, when taken with other substances, the drug can become quite dangerous. Also, unlike opioids, a gabapentin overdose does not have any antidote that can be used to treat the victim.
What are the real dangers of mixing?
Gabapentin is mostly used with opioids or other substances that induce a high, such as marijuana and cannabis.
As it is an adjunct medicine to stronger drugs, it has a similar yet heightened effect when used with these substances. Cases of mixing gabapentin and controlled substances like opioids are common, and can be lethal.
In many cases, it has led to unnaturally high doses which damaged the nervous system over a course of time, or led to death.
And so the obvious question arises: what are the effects and dangers of mixing gabapentin with alcohol?
Since alcohol is a stimulant, it is commonly and unwisely found to be mixed with alcohol, and many cases of undesirable and even fatal effects have been documented.
In these instances, people with alcohol addiction took gabapentin in high doses to expedite and increase the euphoria-inducing effects of alcohol. In most of these cases, these individuals were ardent drinkers who drank in large volumes.
In the long run, a continuous abuse of this combination of the two substances can lead to permanent and irreparable damage to the nervous system, which may lead to compromised bodily function.
Also, as noted above, both alcohol and gabapentin have withdrawal symptoms and therefore, when taken in conjunction, the two compounds are a risky and potentially lethal mix.
If you have been prescribed gabapentin, and are also a regular alcohol consumer, it is advisable that you speak with your doctor, who can assist you in managing your doses of the drug more wisely and with decreased risk.
Also, disclosing your drinking habits to your doctor will further assist them in determining your dosage.
However, if you have been prescribed gabapentin, it is highly advisable to not consume alcohol whatsoever. Abusing gabapentin with alcohol — or any other substance, for that matter — can lead to undesirable outcomes that can at the very least impair your biological processes, and lead to fatal consequences at the very worst.