Can Someone Actually Overdose On Gabapentin?
As with most drugs, one can indeed overdose with gabapentin. Unfortunately, overdosing has become a terrible reality for many people. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic led to anxiety and depression. When people suffer, we often turn to substances to relieve our pain. As a result, statistics bear out an increase in drug overdoses.
In this blog, Harmony Healing NJ dives into topics surrounding Gabapentin. We will explore:
- Gabapentin’s structure and purpose
- Possible side effects of Gabapentin
- Symptoms of overdosing on Gabapentin
- Why a person might become addicted to Gabapentin
- How to find help for gabapentin addiction
Gabapentin’s Structure And Purpose
Gabapentin belongs to a class of medicines called anticonvulsants. Sometimes, you may come across the terms “antiepileptic” or “anti-seizure.” The FDA originally approved gabapentin for use in 1993. In some cases, doctors use it to help control seizures. When prescribed, gabapentin may appear under these brand names:
In addition to seizures, one might receive a gabapentin prescription for alcohol dependence or anxiety.
How Does Gabapentin Work?
Our brains have cells called neurons. Neurons communicate with one another. They do so by using chemical signals called neurotransmitters. Gabapentin influences a specific neurotransmitter named gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means that it slows down activity in the brain. Gabapentin encourages the brain to produce more GABA. Therefore, gabapentin causes our brain and body processes to operate at a more relaxed pace. The brain controls these processes (like breathing, heartbeat, and blood flow) without our conscious thought. When we stick to a gabapentin prescription, we generally have no problems. But when abused, gabapentin can have disastrous consequences.
Possible Side Effects Of Gabapentin
Gabapentin makes our brains and bodies move slower. Consequently, it impacts our wakefulness and alertness. Common side effects of gabapentin include sleepiness and dizziness. While taking gabapentin, a person may appear sedated. They might have difficulty concentrating, walking, or performing simple tasks. In children 3-12, gabapentin may contribute to problems at school. Some kids show signs of restlessness and have trouble sitting still. Kids taking Gabapentin may show signs of anger, aggression, or hostility.
Symptoms Of Overdosing On Gabapentin
A person can overdose on most medications. We should not exempt gabapentin from this. Overdose results when one of the following happens:
- Consuming too much gabapentin
- Taking gabapentin in a manner other than the one prescribed (i.e. snorting gabapentin)
- Mixing gabapentin with wither alcohol, or other drugs, for recreational purposes
Using gabapentin in one of these ways may result in an overdose. Overdose symptoms might include things like:
- Lack of coordination in the muscles
- Difficulty breathing
- Seeing double
Why A Person Might Become Addicted To Gabapentin
People take drugs to make themselves feel better. This should not surprise us. When we experience pain, we want it to end. This provides the reason why people self-medicate. Gabapentin may relieve suffering. Even if only for a moment, that moment means a lot. Most gabapentin abuse happens in conjunction with opioids. Gabapentin itself does not get classified as an opioid. However, Gabapentin amplifies the potency of opioids. That is, it strengthens the effects of opioids.
To understand why people pair gabapentin and opioids, we need some understanding of opioids. Opioids act as painkillers. We derive opioids from the poppy plant. Natural opioids (“opiates”) include opium, morphine, and codeine. Synthetic (man-made) opioids include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Hospitals employ opioids during and after surgery. Many prescription painkillers also include opioids. Opioids work quickly, providing almost instantaneous relief. For this reason, they have a high likelihood of abuse.
How Do Opioids Work?
Our brains actually make their own opioids. The brain transmits them between nerve cells called neurons. Our neurons have receptors called opioid receptors. These receptors exchange natural opioids that can enhance our mood and decrease pain. When we consume an opioid (prescription or otherwise), our brains step up this process. We have a surplus of opioids in our brains. In fact, you may experience things slowing down. Perhaps feel sluggish and sedated. Not a bad way to do life, right? Well, not exactly. Opioids slow down our breathing and heart rate. When this happens, it means that our brains and bodies do not get enough oxygen. Furthermore, we don’t have the blood flow that we need. In fact, lacking air and blood can have terrible consequences for our brains. In this state, we can become comatose. Sometimes, it can lead to death.
What’s Gabapentin Got To Do With It?
Gabapentin amplifies these effects. As a result, someone taking gabapentin along with opioids may undergo these symptoms even faster. In fact, someone might experience them to a greater degree. Moreover, gabapentin may not produce these effects. Is gabapentin addictive? Definitely. In fact, combining it with opioids can prove lethal.
How To Find Help For Gabapentin Addiction or Misuse
Do you or someone you love struggle with addiction to gabapentin or any other substance? If so, Harmony Healing Center can help, contact us.