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Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol

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Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol
Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

Table of Contents

Gabapentin is a multifunctional medication initially created to treat postherpetic neuralgia and partial seizures. Although it is not classified as a controlled substance, there is increasing evidence suggesting gabapentin’s potential for misuse, particularly when used in conjunction with alcohol. Both substances act on similar brain receptors, intensifying each other’s effects and increasing the risk of misuse.

When combined, gabapentin and alcohol target the central nervous system’s brain receptors, leading to enhanced effects. This interaction is extremely risky, elevating the chances of experiencing severe side effects and increasing the likelihood of an overdose.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin, commercially known as Neurontin, is an anticonvulsant drug used to manage conditions like shingles, nerve pain, restless leg syndrome, and epilepsy-related seizures. It works by regulating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain that has a calming effect.

This medication is particularly useful for those suffering from nerve pain as it can help modulate GABA production, possibly reducing or even eliminating pain symptoms. However, despite its therapeutic benefits, gabapentin carries risks if used outside of medical guidance, particularly concerning when combined with alcohol, as it may lead to substance use disorders.

Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin with Alcohol

The combination of gabapentin and alcohol is alarmingly prevalent due to their similar depressive effects on the GABA neurotransmitter. Both act as depressants, slowing bodily functions and amplifying each other’s effects, which can dangerously escalate the risk of intense side effects and potential overdose. Although gabapentin alone typically does not cause overdose, its risks significantly increase when mixed with alcohol.

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Gabapentin?

It is strongly advised to avoid alcohol while taking gabapentin due to the increased risk of adverse side effects and dangerous interactions. Both substances suppress the central nervous system, potentially resulting in heightened sedative effects such as greater drowsiness and reduced alertness. This combination can also impair motor skills, coordination, and cognitive functions. For your safety and well-being, it is crucial to adhere to your doctor’s advice and abstain from alcohol while undergoing treatment with gabapentin.

Side Effects of Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol

Side Effects of Gabapentin and Alcohol

When gabapentin and alcohol are used together, they can cause a range of adverse effects that impact both physical and mental health significantly. Gabapentin on its own can have side effects that vary in severity and are often temporary.

Common side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Increased drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Intense nausea
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Constipation
  • Memory issues
  • Dry mouth
  • Swelling in the hands, legs, ankles, or feet

The combination of gabapentin and alcohol can intensify these symptoms, leading to more severe health complications. It is crucial for those prescribed gabapentin to avoid alcohol in order to minimize these risks and safeguard their health.

When beginning gabapentin treatment, you may initially experience only mild side effects. However, this can lead to underestimating the medication’s potential risks, especially when combined with alcohol. Although the side effects of gabapentin alone might not be alarming at first, mixing it with alcohol can quickly create a dangerous situation. Even moderate alcohol consumption can significantly heighten these risks, potentially resulting in serious health issues.

The Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin with Alcohol

Mixing gabapentin with alcohol is strongly discouraged due to the significant risks and serious complications it can cause. This combination can enhance usual side effects and lead to dangerous behaviors, such as impaired driving.

Both alcohol and gabapentin affect cognitive function and mood stability. Introducing alcohol while on gabapentin can trigger unexpected and potentially life-threatening side effects, like respiratory depression. This mix can also rapidly worsen existing side effects, making them more severe and noticeable.

Intensified side effects may include:

  • Fatigue and Drowsiness: Gabapentin’s sleep-inducing effects can be greatly amplified with alcohol, resulting in deep fatigue and reduced alertness.
  • Increased Anxiety: While gabapentin can help reduce anxiety, alcohol may counteract this effect, leading to heightened anxiety and discomfort.
  • Cognitive Disturbances: Mixing alcohol with gabapentin can cause sudden confusion and other cognitive impairments.
  • Gastrointestinal Effects: Problems like nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea can worsen when these substances are combined.
  • Dizziness and Lightheadedness: Both substances can cause these symptoms on their own, but their combination can intensify these effects.

If you notice side effects from gabapentin, adding alcohol to the mix can exacerbate these issues. Should you experience adverse effects while on gabapentin, it is crucial to consult your doctor promptly. Professional medical guidance is essential for safely managing your medication and maintaining your health.

Gabapentin for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Gabapentin is often prescribed to mitigate symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.

When a person begins treatment for alcohol addiction, gabapentin may be used to manage symptoms such as:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Auditory disturbances
  • Clouded sensorium
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Paroxysmal sweats
  • Tactile disturbances
  • Tremors
  • Visual disturbances
  • Vomiting

Gabapentin and other medications are typically employed on a short-term basis to effectively control these withdrawal symptoms. Once the acute phase of alcohol withdrawal has passed, the use of gabapentin is usually discontinued. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from 2 to 10 days after stopping alcohol intake.

Gabapentin Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

Can You Overdose on Gabapentin and Alcohol?

Although research is not comprehensive, it’s suggested that gabapentin could heighten the risk of an alcohol overdose. Mixing gabapentin with alcohol is particularly dangerous. The medication may intensify alcohol’s effects, especially in those who consume alcohol heavily, by increasing impairment levels without affecting the individual’s perceived level of intoxication.

Is Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol Fatal?

Indeed, combining gabapentin with alcohol can lead to fatal outcomes. Alcohol is capable of causing deadly overdoses on its own and is typically seen as the more hazardous of the two substances. Furthermore, gabapentin can amplify the risk of experiencing an alcohol-related overdose and has also been associated with fatal outcomes in cases involving opioid use. It is crucial to never mix these substances without explicit instructions from a healthcare provider.

Gabapentin Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

Ready to overcome Gabapentin addiction in Chattanooga, TN? Iris Wellness Group stands by to support your journey from the initial detox to full recovery and beyond. Our outpatient rehab fosters an environment conducive to addressing the psychological facets of drug addiction. A tailored treatment plan awaits you, incorporating individual and group therapyfamily counseling, psychotherapeutic approaches, holistic practices, and medication-assisted therapy. Upon completion, you’ll be armed with effective relapse prevention strategies and continuous therapeutic support.

Recovery from gabapentin addiction, may seem daunting, but it is achievable with the right support and resources. Addiction specialists are equipped to provide comprehensive care that facilitates a safe withdrawal process and fosters long-term wellness. With professional guidance, individuals can emerge stronger, healthier, and ready to embrace a fulfilling life ahead. Ready to reclaim your life from addiction? Call Iris Wellness Group today at 423-541-0656 or fill out our online form and commit to recovery with us.

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