Neurontin, better known as Gabapentin, is an anticonvulsant/anti-seizure medication that some of us may already know a lot about, and others that may have never heard of it. There may be many of you who are reading this today that have been prescribed it, or know someone who has. Approved for both youth and adults, this drug (aka Gaby or Gabby on the street), is commonly prescribed for seizures, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), and shingles or diabetic nerve pain. It has also been used to treat alcohol withdrawals, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions. When used as directed it is very effective, but it is quickly becoming one of the most abused federally non-controlled substances in the United States. While there are more and more states that have placed Gabapentin on their controlled lists and require a higher level of reporting, such as entering scripts into a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), these prevention steps are not consistent across the board. This is one of the many reasons why in 2022, both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out updated warnings to highlight abuse risk, and linked Gabapentin abuse to the overdose epidemic.
So, what makes this drug so popular? The effects it has on the person using it when mixed with other drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines (which are both powerful depressants on their own). When you pair the increased ‘high’ or sense of euphoria a person feels with the perceived ease of access from prescribers, this drug is continuing to be an attractive escape from reality.
In closing, there are many legitimate medications, like Gabapentin, that are being misused. Continue to be aware and pay attention…You Can’t Stop What You Don’t Know.