Gabapentin is prescribed for specific medical conditions, and while it is not considered a narcotic in most states, there is a risk for addiction. Knowing these risks and how to avoid becoming addicted can help you identify gabapentin abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling with gabapentin abuse, evidence-based gabapentin addiction treatment is available at Orlando Recovery Center and its sister rehab facilities.
Gabapentin, the generic name for Neurontin, is a prescription medication used to help reduce seizures and it is in a class of medications called anticonvulsants. Gabapentin is also approved to help relieve nerve pain from shingles in adults and reduce moderate to severe restless leg syndrome in adults.
Gabapentin is being prescribed more often by doctors in place of opioids, which are highly addictive pain medications. Gabapentin is a non-narcotic drug, but using it with other substances such as heroin can intensify its effects.
How Do People Abuse Gabapentin?
Taking gabapentin in any way other than prescribed, taking more than prescribed, or taking gabapentin that isn’t prescribed to you are all forms of gabapentin abuse. Using gabapentin can lead to physical side effects that can encourage the person to abuse the substance more and more. These include:
- Improved sociability
- Marijuana-like “high”
- Sense of calm
Gabapentin is also much cheaper than other substances when purchased illegally or even when prescribed, at less than a dollar per pill. For those who abuse other substances, like opioids, gabapentin can be an easier way to enhance those drugs’ highs.
Can You Get Addicted to Gabapentin?
People who use gabapentin long-term or take more than prescribed can form a physical dependence on gabapentin, a common physical sign of addiction. This means their body feels like it needs the substance to function normally, and will undergo withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Gabapentin withdrawal is similar to alcohol withdrawal, and can include agitation, flu-like symptoms and, in more severe cases, seizures.
Gabapentin can also prolong a person’s addiction by interfering with recovery. Gabapentin may reduce the withdrawal symptoms of other drugs, causing the person to replace that drug with gabapentin misuse. It can also bypass certain addiction recovery medication, so people who are on medication to abstain from drugs can still get high.
How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Gabapentin?
Gabapentin’s effects may take a few weeks to be felt. Depending on why someone is using gabapentin, it can take anywhere from one to four weeks to reach the full, desired effects. However, there is no specific timeline for becoming addicted to gabapentin. All risk factors should be considered when prescribing gabapentin to help reduce the risk for addiction.
In a study conducted on older adults who were prescribed gabapentin post-surgery, 20% of patients who had never been on gabapentin before were still refilling their prescription three months after surgery. Of those who were refilling their gabapentin prescription, people who were also using opioids were most likely to still use gabapentin long-term. The added effects of gabapentin use with opioids and the opioid addiction itself may be contributing factors.
Treatment and Rehab for Gabapentin Addiction
Continued use of gabapentin can lead to physical dependence, and withdrawal symptoms can occur if it is abruptly stopped. If gabapentin is being used to control seizures and has to be stopped due to abuse, this person will need to be medically supervised while detoxing. Detoxing is the body’s process of slowly removing the substance from its system.
Following detox, gabapentin rehab facilities should also be equipped to treat co-occurring addictions, as gabapentin is often abused alongside other substances. Co-occurring drug addictions, called polysubstance abuse, can make addiction treatment more complicated and prolong recovery, so it’s best to have addiction experts that can address many different substances and conditions at one.
Medical detox may be necessary if someone has developed a physical dependence from gabapentin abuse. Medical detox programs offer 24/7 monitoring by a medical team that can help manage withdrawal symptoms to make your gabapentin detox as safe and as comfortable as possible.
Medical detox includes:
- Full evaluation during intake
- Development of a treatment plan
- Medical monitoring
- Medication therapy and interventions as needed
- Transition to the next phase of recovery
Inpatient rehab is an intensive treatment program that provides a safe and secure environment for those looking to recover from gabapentin addiction. Clients stay on-site at the facility and receive treatment each day to address the root causes of their addiction and prepare them for a life without the substance. Inpatient gabapentin rehab can include:
- Psychiatric and clinical care
- Group and individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Peer support
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
- Supervision by medical staff
- Routine reviews of progress
- Case management
- Relapse prevention planning
Outpatient rehab allows for patients to have more flexibility and autonomy in their treatment. Patients visit the facility regularly for treatment while living at home. Patients can maintain parts of their regular life while receiving treatment, such as work, childcare and other commitments.
Outpatient gabapentin rehab offers many of the same treatments and resources as inpatient care, but with fewer hours of care per week and living at home versus onsite. In general, inpatient care is generally recommended for those with more severe addictions, while outpatient care works for those who have already completed an inpatient program or have milder addictions.
How Much Does Gabapentin Rehab Cost?
Gabapentin addiction treatment costs can vary based on what level of care someone needs. Gabapentin addiction treatment cost will depend on:
- Level of care: higher levels of care, like inpatient treatment, will generally cost more than lower levels of care.
- Location of treatment: facilities can vary by state and on what amenities they offer. Treatment facilities with luxury accommodations will cost more than those with fewer amenities.
- Severity of addiction: people who abuse gabapentin with other substances, like opioids, may need a more complicated treatment plan that addresses both addictions.
- Insurance coverage: whether or not you have insurance that covers addiction treatment can impact cost.
If you would like to know more about the potential cost of gabapentin treatment, speaking to the admissions department of the facility you are looking into can help.
Is Gabapentin Addiction Treatment Covered by Insurance?
Insurance may cover some or all of your gabapentin addiction treatment just as they would any other medical care. Orlando Recovery Center is in-network with many national and local insurance providers. Contact your insurance company to learn more about what is covered in your insurance plan, or you can speak with our admissions department to verify your insurance coverage.
Get Help Today
Reaching out to a rehab facility equipped to treat gabapentin addiction is the first step towards long-term recovery. Orlando Recovery Center uses an evidence-based, multidisciplinary approach to substance abuse treatment and offers all levels of care for gabapentin addiction, including:
- Medical detox
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Inpatient rehab
- Outpatient Rehab
- Partial Hospitalization Program
- Intensive Outpatient Program
If you or a loved one is suffering from gabapentin addiction, our compassionate, licensed addiction specialists are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and get started on your recovery.
Cleveland Clinic. “Gabapentin: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages,[…]eractions & More.” July 1, 2021. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Smith, Blair H.; Higgins, Cassie; Baldacchino, Alex; Kidd, Brian; & Bannister, Jonathan. “Substance misuse of gabapentin.” British Journal of General Practice, August 2012. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Rodriguez, Carmen H. “Gabapentin, a drug for nerve pain, and a[…]get of opioid abuse.” Kaiser Health News, July 6, 2017. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Drugs.com. “How long does it take gabapentin to work?” April 16, 2021. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Miller, Janel. “20% of older patients prescribed gabapen[…]ry use it long term.” Healio, July 8, 2021. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Vestal, Christine. “Abuse of Opioid Alternative Gabapentin is on the Rise.” PEW Charitable Trusts, May 10, 2018. Accessed April 7, 2022.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.