Gabapentin is an Addiction Treatment Medication


Gabapentin (Generic Neurontin ) is used to help control partial seizures (convulsions) in the treatment of epilepsy. This medicine cannot cure epilepsy and will only work to control seizures for as long as you continue to take it.

Gabapentin (Generic Neurontin ) is also used to manage a condition called postherpetic neuralgia, which is pain that occurs after shingles. It’s also taken for nerve pain. Nerve pain can be caused by different illnesses, including diabetes and shingles, or it can happen after an injury.

Gabapentin (Generic Neurontin ) works in the brain to prevent seizures and relieve pain for certain conditions in the nervous system. It is not used for routine pain caused by minor injuries or arthritis. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant.

Occasionally, gabapentin (Generic Neurontin ) is used to prevent migraine headaches. Gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) are anticonvulsants and nerve pain medicines which have structural similarities to the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.

Gabapentin (Generic Neurontin ) is available only with your doctor’s prescription.

Gabapentin (Generic Neurontin ) is available in the following dosage forms:
Capsule
Tablet
Tablet, Extended Release, 24 HR
Solution
Suspension

DOSAGE FORMS AND STRENGTHS of Gabapentin
Capsules
100 mg: white hard gelatin capsules printed with “PD” on the body and
300 mg: yellow hard gelatin capsules printed with “PD” on the body and “Neurontin/300 mg” on the cap
400 mg: orange hard gelatin capsules printed with “PD” on the body and “Neurontin/400 mg” on the cap
Tablets
600 mg: white elliptical film-coated scored tablets debossed with “NT” and “16” on one side
Gabapentin 800 mg: white elliptical film-coated scored tablets debossed with “NT” and “26” on one side
Oral solution: 250 mg per 5 mL (50 mg per mL), clear colorless to slightly yellow solution

Gabapentin (Generic Neurontin ) was developed in 1993 and has indications for shingles (‘postherpetic neuralgia’) and partial-onset seizures. It has had a growing popularity in off-label uses for fibromyalgia, pain from a variety of causes, migraine, cocaine withdrawal, anxiety, and insomnia. A related compound, gabapentin encarbil (Horizant), is approved for shingles and restless leg syndrome. Pregabalin was developed in 2004 and is approved for nerve pain from diabetes and spinal cord injuries, fibromyalgia, and adjunctive treatment of partial-onset seizures. Although prescribed off-label for anxiety in the U.S., it is approved for this purpose in the U.K., where it is sometimes called the ‘new Valium’.

Gabapentin is used to treat cases of addiction in an off-label manner. Different companies, including Parke-Davis, Greenstone, and Teva, manufacture several varieties of the generic drug. Other drugs that have been used to treat the symptoms of addiction withdrawal, for specific substances, include:

  • Clondine
  • Other anticonvulsants, such as Tegretol and Depakote
  • Methadone and buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone

Typical Application

Available in capsules, tablets, and as an oral liquid, dosages range from 100 mg to 800 mg. The frequency with which a dose is repeated depends on the specific dose, which is usually based on the severity of withdrawal and the client’s weight. The drug’s half-life is around 5-7 hours.

Generally, it is used during medical detox and throughout subsequent treatment modalities to support relapse prevention while clients adjust to their new sober lifestyles.

Treating Substance Abuse

According to Medscape, gabapentin can inflict users with suicidal thoughts and abrupt changes in behavior. For this reason, it should only be used under medical supervision. It can also cause elevated blood pressure, fever, sleep problems, appetite changes, and chest pain.

While it has been used to treat addictions to other substances, gabapentin is most often used to treat alcoholism — an addiction some 16.6 million adults suffered from in 2013, per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

During withdrawal from alcohol abuse or dependency, clients may experience anxiety, tremors, agitation, and irritability. In order to understand how gabapentin works, there must be a basic understanding of how the brain works first. Nervous system activity is partially controlled by GABA neurotransmitters. Gabapentin works by reducing activity among GABA. As a result, signals for pain, agitation, and anxiety are reduced, too.

An American Journal of Psychiatry study showed impressive results during the 16-week treatment of 150 people who were dependent on alcohol, noting better results among those who were treated with both gabapentin and naltrexone than the latter alone. TheJournal of Clinical Psychiatry reported on another study in which individuals treated for alcoholism with gabapentin showed a significant reduction in how much they drank and a greater rate of abstinence than those in the placebo group.

Gabapentin has the same calming effect on individuals who are detoxing from marijuana and benzodiazepines. Despite claims from fans of the plant-based drug, marijuana is indeed addictive. In 2012, 305,560 people checked into rehab citing cannabis as their primary drug of abuse, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. One Neuropsychopharmacology study that analyzed the use of gabapentin in the treatment of marijuana addiction and withdrawal noted individuals in the gabapentin treatment group used less marijuana, had fewer withdrawal symptoms, and experienced improvements in cognitive functioning, compared to the placebo group.

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