Can Gabapentin Make You High?

Can gabapentin make you high? Discover everything you need to know about gabapentin and the role it can play in addiction.

Table of Contents

Overview

When most people hear the term “drug abuse” or “addiction,” they immediately think in terms of popular illegal substances of abuse like cocaine and heroin. However, these substances aren’t the only ones known to cause addiction problems. Prescription medications account for many abuse and addiction cases, as many have been shown to elicit addiction-causing effects.

These implicated medications are perfect targets for people seeking to abuse them because they often produce mental exhilaration or a “high” when consumed. Some drug classes discovered to cause addiction, especially when misused, include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opioid painkillers, and gabapentin.
can gabapentin make you high

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What Is Gabapentin?

By classification, gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat and manage seizures and convulsions in people with epilepsy. Another common use is to alleviate symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia. Over the years, prescriptions for this medication have gradually been increasing, reaching sixty-four million in 2016.1

Gabapentin is similar to benzodiazepine, another medication commonly prescribed for seizures, in that they both act on the same area in the brain. However, this is more or less where the similarity ends because they use different approaches in carrying out their anti-seizure benefits. Unlike benzodiazepines that directly bind to GABA receptors in the brain to effect excitatory results, gabapentin forces the brain cells to slow down, effectively decreasing abnormal brain activity caused by seizures.

HOW IS GABAPENTIN ABUSED?

Several recent studies have shown that more and more people are abusing gabapentin. For instance, in Kentucky, gabapentin is found in nearly one in every three overdose deaths. This increased gabapentin abuse is primarily because the drug has been linked to causing “highs” in people who misuse it. Interestingly, however, unlike benzodiazepines, which directly cause addiction problems, gabapentin takes a somewhat unique approach.2

People abusing this medication can get a gabapentin high when they consume it in high doses, especially when they snort powders from gabapentin capsules. Beyond this, people combine the drug with other addictive substances like cocaine. People abusing gabapentin usually combine it with other substances, although it can produce a high by itself if used in high enough doses. Gabapentin elicits a more enhanced “high feeling” when combined with other drugs like opioids and alcohol. Since the drug is available in capsule dosage forms, it can be swallowed as it is. However, some people who abuse gabapentin do so by loosening the capsule and snorting its powder directly.

Signs of Gabapentin Addiction

Gabapentin is commonly combined with other addictive substances like alcohol and cannabis, so overdose and poisoning remain the ever-present dangers of gabapentin use. One study found that 40% to 65% of individuals with prescriptions and 15% to 22% of those who abuse opioids reported misusing gabapentin. 3

Fortunately, stopping gabapentin side effects is possible if its misuse is detected early enough. This is why it is important to be able to identify the symptoms of gabapentin use.

Indications of Gabapentin Addiction and Misuse

People with gabapentin addiction often present signs of dependency, such as:
  • Lying about or exaggerating symptoms to doctors
  • Seeking out multiple doctors to get extra doses
  • Switching doctors after the original doctor refuses to continue prescribing the medication
  • Changes in social habits and/or circles
  • Changes in personal hygiene and grooming habits
  • Unease at the thought of the drug being unavailable
  • Refusal to quit despite social, financial, or legal consequences
  • Failed attempts to quit

Can You Get High on Gabapentin?

Yes, it is possible to get high on gabapentin; however, it typically takes a significant amount of gabapentin to produce a high. As a result, getting high on gabapentin commonly involves combining it with other more powerful addictive drugs like opioids and cannabis. Combining this medication with other drugs does not require a large dose to experience the desired effects compared to taking it alone.

Can You Overdose on Gabapentin?

Yes. In fact, of all gabapentin abuse risks, overdose is one of the most prominent. As mentioned earlier, the “high” of gabapentin is commonly obtained when combined with different substances, which significantly increases the risks of overdose. While gabapentin risks of overdose may be milder when combined with less potent drugs, if combined with drugs like heroin and fentanyl, death is a real possibility because the potency will be too high. A study measuring the prevalence of gabapentin in postmortem blood samples found that 47.1% of deaths were directly related to gabapentin.4

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How Does Gabapentin Make You Feel?

When patients first begin taking gabapentin, they might feel sleepy, lightheaded, or clumsy and may experience slower thinking. These are frequent effects of gabapentin, but as the body becomes used to the medication, these symptoms should improve. Because of this, people who are on a gabapentin prescription are encouraged to temporarily quit driving or operating heavy machinery if they feel any effect of gabapentin use.

What Happens If You Snort Gabapentin?

The method of administration can drastically change a drug’s effects on the body, and snorting gabapentin is no exception. Snorting the substance allows it to enter the bloodstream much faster than if it were swallowed, bypassing the digestive system. So, if you’re asking, can gabapentin make you high? Yes,  this rapid absorption intensifies the effects of the drug, potentially resulting in a euphoric high from gabapentin.

When gabapentin is snorted, it can lead to more rapid onset of unsavory effects such as dizziness, confusion, and sometimes hallucinations. Furthermore, it can lead to irritation of the nasal passages, throat, and respiratory tract, potentially resulting in chronic nasal problems, sinusitis, or even lung infections in the long term.

Perhaps most concerning, however, is the potential for increased dependency and addiction when snorting gabapentin. By enhancing the high and creating a more immediate reward sensation, snorting gabapentin may increase the likelihood of dependency and reinforce the cycle of addiction. This makes getting high from gabapentin via snorting more dangerous and can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.

Additionally, when snorted, the risk of overdose becomes significantly higher. Overdose symptoms of gabapentin can include severe dizziness, double vision, slurred speech, drowsiness, lethargy, and diarrhea. Snorting this drug can also result in respiratory failure, coma, or even death in extreme cases.

 

How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System?

Gabapentin has a half-life of about five to seven hours. However, studies have shown that it usually takes about five half-lives for gabapentin to be eliminated from the body. This means that gabapentin will remain in the system for about thirty-five to forty hours after ingestion.
Nonetheless, its elimination from the body depends on a variety of factors, such as kidney function and dosage form (e.g., sustained-release gabapentin tablets), so it can sometimes be detected in urine days after it is ingested.5

Side Effects of Gabapentin

No medication is perfect, and this fact also applies to gabapentin. In fact, frequent inducement of gabapentin dosage high has been associated with several unpleasant side effects. Some of these gabapentin high dose side effects include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Mood disorders
  • Memory problems
  • Infections
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen arms or legs
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Erectile dysfunction

Risks of Gabapentin Abuse and Addiction

Aside from the unpleasant side effects like diarrhea and erectile dysfunction gabapentin use can cause, there are several other risks associated with gabapentin abuse. They include the following:
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Sweating
  • More frequent seizures (for those with epilepsy)
  • Feelings of physical dependence on the drug

Gabapentin Dependence and Tolerance

Getting high from gabapentin can lead to deeper issues, such as relying on the drug in an unhealthy way.  Dependence on gabapentin arises when the body requires the drug to maintain normal functioning, while tolerance is when increasing doses are needed to achieve the same effect.

Can gabapentin make you high? Misusing gabapentin can result in effects akin to opioids and benzodiazepines, including feelings of calm. Over time, the body becomes reliant on the drug to achieve this sensation and prevent withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, and in rare cases, seizures.

Can too much gabapentin make you high? Yes, it may – but not without potentially life-threatening results. As tolerance builds, individuals may escalate their consumption, leading to a risk of overdose. Symptoms can range from double vision and drowsiness to severe outcomes such as coma or death.

Dependence and tolerance are physiological responses to a drug, not signs of weakness. Those experiencing these issues should seek professional help to safely overcome their addiction.

Mixing Gabapentin With Other Drugs

As mentioned, one of the major risks associated with answering the inquiry, “can gabapentin make you high?” is its effects when used with other drugs. The effects of gabapentin can be amplified when combined with other substances, particularly opioids, alcohol, and certain anxiety medications. This can lead to a more intense high, but it also increases the risks of side effects and can lead to dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations.

For instance, mixing gabapentin with opioids can trigger respiratory depression, which can cause hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain), coma, or death. Meanwhile, mixing gabapentin with alcohol can enhance the drug’s sedative effects, leading to impaired motor control, unusual behavior, and memory problems. Over time, this combination can cause damage to the liver and other vital organs.

In addition, combining gabapentin with benzodiazepines, a class of drugs often prescribed for anxiety and insomnia, can worsen the side effects of both drugs, causing extreme drowsiness, respiratory distress, and increased risk of overdose.

It is crucial to understand that mixing drugs can have unpredictable effects, especially when involving a substance like gabapentin, which is still being studied for its potential for misuse and addiction. Even if someone doesn’t feel immediate adverse effects from combining gabapentin with other substances, they may still be causing long-term damage to their body, particularly their liver and kidneys.

Please note: professional medical supervision is vital for anyone attempting to stop using gabapentin, especially if they have been combining it with other substances. Abruptly stopping gabapentin can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including increased anxiety, restlessness, and seizures. For this reason, detox and withdrawal should be conducted with the supervision of a healthcare professional. The combination of substance use disorder counseling and medical treatment often yields the best results for those seeking recovery.

Get Treatment Options for Gabapentin Abuse at Profound Recovery

gabapentin high

Are you currently struggling with gabapentin addiction?  If you are and you’re looking to get safe and effective gabapentin withdrawal and recovery treatment, Profound Recovery can help. 

Gabapentin side effects can be difficult, as the withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe. Thus, seeking professional help is recommended to ensure you get the required treatment in a stable and safe environment.

Discover Wellness and Profound Healing

At Profound Recovery, you’ll be able to get safe and effective gabapentin rehab that will greatly improve your quality of life. Every step of the gabapentin addiction treatment process, from tapering off gabapentin to therapy, is handled by highly trained and experienced medical professionals. 

DETOX FOR GABAPENTIN

Gabapentin dependence and withdrawal treatment at Profound Recovery usually starts with detox. The purpose of gabapentin detox is to effectively and systematically reduce gabapentin concentrations in the body until the patient is entirely gabapentin-free.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR GABAPENTIN ADDICTION

As a patient looking to receive treatment for gabapentin addiction at Profound Recovery, you’ll be able to choose between inpatient or outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment is often recommended for those whose addiction or withdrawal symptoms are severe or projected to be severe. This is because inpatient treatment programs consist of twenty-four-hour medical supervision to ensure each patient remains comfortable, supported, and in excellent health. You’ll also have access to support groups and aftercare therapy as well.

Contact Profound Recovery today to learn more about our treatment options and how we can help you begin your road to recovery and a higher quality of life.

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