Gabapentin is authorized from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for your treatment of and postherpetic neuralgia. It’s typically recommended off-label for different pain syndromes, panic and mood disorders, restless legs syndrome, alcohol withdrawal, and other conditions.


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Gabapentin is an analog of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that slows down the game of nerve cells in the mind, but doesn’t join to GABA receptors or influence the output or uptake of GABA. How gabapentin works and how it reduces pain and suppresses seizures are unknown.

Gabapentin does not present appreciation for benzodiazepine, opioid (mu, delta, or kappa), or cannabinoid 1 receptor sites, which are often triggered in drugs of abuse. Gabapentin isn’t scheduled as being a controlled substance, showing little prospect of addiction and abuse. However, gabapentin shares features of drugs associated with misuse and habit, because it provides a withdrawal syndrome and certain psychoactive effects.

A little quantity of postmarketing cases document abuse and gabapentin misuse.

In 2004, a report described gabapentin misuse in Florida in correctional facilities.

A 2007 statement explained the event of a 67-yearold lady with mood disorders and a history of alcohol abuse who had been given gabapentin (along with naproxen and amitriptyline) for pain from polyneuritis. Owing to tolerance, she was given 4800 mg/time (over the maximum recommended amount), but further grown her intake to 7200 mg daily. She wanted gabapentin with no prescription from pharmacists and visited numerous doctors, exaggerating her symptoms, to acquire the specified levels.

Once the individual was eventually no longer able to obtain gabapentin through these processes, she designed withdrawal symptoms, seen as an shaking, sweating, excitation, pallor, and exophthalmia. Where a change to alternative pain control drugs was made, the withdrawal required hospitalization. Within several months, the individual had resumed abuse of gabapentin.

Another report identified 3 cases of gabapentin-related withdrawal symptoms of total daily doses after abrupt discontinuation of 4800 mg, 3600 mg, and 2400 mg.

Similar symptoms were described in 2 patients with backgrounds of alcohol abuse. The first case involved a 33-year-old guy getting 3600 mg of gabapentin daily, which was twice his recommended amount. Make him feel calmer and he’d been receiving gabapentin replacements early to cut back his craving for alcohol. He experienced severe withdrawal symptoms and quickly stopped using the gabapentin while further refills were denied.

The 2nd scenario identified a 63-yearold guy using a history of alcohol abuse who was taking gabapentin at 4900 mg/day instead of the given 1800 mg. After presentation towards discontinuation and the hospital of gabapentin, he produced severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms in these people included tachycardia, frustration, disorientation, diaphoresis, tremulousness, and disappointment. The withdrawal symptoms resolved upon resumption of gabapentin.

The utilization of nonprescribed gabapentin by individuals attending substanceabuse clinics in addition has been reported. A survey-based study concluded by 129 participants participating 6 drug abuse treatment clinics discovered that 22% of people admitted to using nonprescribed gabapentin. As a comparison, nonprescribed use of pregabalin was benzodiazepines 47% 3%, and cannabis 43% %. Some patients taking nonprescribed gabapentin reported utilizing the drug to become intoxicated or even to potentiate the effect of methadone.


On the basis of case reports and postmarketing reports, there appears to be potential for punishment, reliance, and withdrawal symptoms associated with gabapentin use. People associated with this misuse and abuse used gabapentin at doses higher than those proposed, to ease symptoms of withdrawal from other materials, and for uses that are not FDA- approved.

Providers should assess patients for substance abuse history when prescribing gabapentin, as well as monitor patients for almost any signs of misuse or neglect. Prescribers and pharmacists must observe individuals for that development of ceiling, unauthorized escalation of dosing, and needs for early replacements or other aberrant behavior. If abuse is assumed prescribers should consider requesting assessment for your presence of gabapentin in urine drug screens.

Author Dr. Melton Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University.

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