Does Gabapentin Get You High?

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

Table of Contents

Is Gabapentin A Controlled Substance?

When most people hear the term “drug abuse” or “addiction,” they immediately think of popular illegal substances 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.

Gabapentin, specifically, is not classified as a controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on a federal level. However, due to its potential for abuse and addiction, several states have classified gabapentin as a Schedule V controlled substance. This classification indicates that while gabapentin has a lower potential for abuse compared to substances in Schedules I-IV, it still carries a risk of dependency and misuse. Healthcare providers must be vigilant in monitoring their patients for signs of abuse and dependency, especially those with a history of substance misuse or mental health conditions.

can gabapentin make you high

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. As of 2019, there were approximately 69 million prescriptions for gabapentin dispensed in the United States, reflecting its widespread use in managing various conditions like seizures and neuropathic pain.

Gabapentin is similar to benzodiazepines, another class of 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. Gabapentin is a prescription drug that is available in various forms, including gabapentin pills, capsules, and oral solutions.

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Related Medications: Gabapentinoids

Gabapentin belongs to a class of medications known as gabapentinoids, which are commonly used to treat nerve pain and seizures. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the approval and regulation of these medications to ensure their safety and efficacy. There are several other medications related to gabapentin, each with its specific uses and benefits:

Pregabalin (Lyrica)

Pregabalin, marketed under the brand name Lyrica, is very similar to gabapentin and is used to treat nerve pain and seizures. It is often prescribed for conditions such as fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and postherpetic neuralgia. Pregabalin calms overactive nerves, relieves pain, and reduces seizure frequency.

Amitriptyline / Chlordiazepoxide (Limbitrol)

Limbitrol combines amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, with chlordiazepoxide, a benzodiazepine. This combination is often used for its sedative and pain-relieving properties, making it effective in treating anxiety and depression-related symptoms. It also helps manage chronic pain conditions.

Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Duloxetine, sold under the brand name Cymbalta, is prescribed for depression and anxiety, as well as chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and diabetic neuropathy. It works by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain to improve mood and alleviate pain.

Clomipramine (Anafranil)

Clomipramine, known by the brand name Anafranil, is primarily used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is a tricyclic antidepressant that helps reduce the frequency and intensity of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Doxepin (Silenor)

Doxepin, marketed as Silenor, is often prescribed for its antidepressant and sedative effects. It is used to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Doxepin affects neurotransmitters in the brain, promoting relaxation and improving sleep quality.

Uses of Gabapentin

Gabapentin, known by the brand name Neurontin, is primarily used as an anticonvulsant, effectively treating and managing seizures. However, its therapeutic applications extend far beyond this initial purpose. Over the years, gabapentin has been found beneficial for a variety of off-label uses due to its calming effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Here are some of the critical conditions for which gabapentin is prescribed:

  • Anxiety: Gabapentin is frequently prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. It works by calming the nervous system, which can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. This makes it a valuable option for individuals struggling with anxiety disorders who may not respond well to traditional anxiolytics.
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Gabapentin effectively treats RLS, a condition characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. By modulating the nervous system’s activity, gabapentin helps reduce the frequency and severity of these symptoms, allowing for better sleep and improved quality of life.
  • Tremors and hot flashes: Gabapentin has been shown to help manage tremors, involuntary, rhythmic muscle contractions, and hot flashes, which are sudden feelings of warmth often associated with menopause. By stabilizing nerve activity, gabapentin can provide significant relief for individuals experiencing these disruptive symptoms.
  • Fibromyalgia: Patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition marked by widespread musculoskeletal pain, often find relief with gabapentin. The medication helps to alleviate pain by reducing abnormal electrical activity in the nervous system, thus improving the overall quality of life for fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Diabetic neuropathy: Gabapentin is used to treat nerve pain caused by diabetes, known as diabetic neuropathy. This condition can result in significant discomfort and pain due to nerve damage. Gabapentin helps manage this pain by stabilizing nerve signals and reducing pain sensations.
  • Shingles pain: Gabapentin is commonly prescribed to alleviate nerve pain resulting from shingles (postherpetic neuralgia). Shingles, caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox), can lead to severe nerve pain that persists even after the rash and blisters have healed. Gabapentin helps by reducing the pain signals sent by damaged nerves to the brain, thus providing significant pain relief and improving the quality of life for those affected.
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, opioids, and cocaine: Gabapentin is sometimes prescribed to help manage withdrawal symptoms from substances such as alcohol, opioids, and cocaine. During the detox process, gabapentin can ease symptoms like anxiety, agitation, and insomnia, making the transition to sobriety more comfortable. Its calming effect on the nervous system is particularly beneficial in reducing the discomfort associated with withdrawal.

How Is Gabapentin Abused?

A study published by the CDC found that in 2020, gabapentin was detected in approximately one in five drug overdose deaths across 23 states and the District of Columbia. This increased gabapentin abuse and the unfortunate outcome stems primarily from the drug being known to cause “highs” in individuals who misuse it. Interestingly, however, unlike benzodiazepines, which directly cause addiction problems, gabapentin takes a somewhat unique approach.

Gabapentin is particularly attractive to individuals who are dependent on other substances, like alcohol or opioids. It is often taken to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms of these substances between uses. Gabapentin may help reduce anxiety and provide relaxation during withdrawal from opioids, alcohol, or other substances. It is also abused recreationally by individuals who want that feeling of relaxation – especially by those who abuse other drugs or alcohol. On the street, gabapentin is sometimes referred to as “gabbies,” highlighting its presence in the illegal drug culture.

Can You Get High On Gabapentin?

People abusing gabapentin often seek increased sociability, a sense of calm, and euphoria. Individuals can become intoxicated when they consume gabapentin in high doses, especially when they snort powders from gabapentin capsules. Additionally, people combine the drug with other addictive substances like cocaine. Although gabapentin can produce a high by itself if used in high enough doses, it is usually combined with other substances for a more enhanced “high feeling,” especially with opioids and alcohol.

Gabapentin is available in capsule dosage forms, and it can be swallowed as is. However, some people who abuse gabapentin do so by loosening the capsule and snorting its powder directly, which intensifies the drug’s effects and increases the risk of dependency and overdose.

can you get addicted to gabapentin?

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.

Fortunately, stopping gabapentin’s side effects is possible if its misuse is detected early enough. This is why it is essential to be able to identify the symptoms of gabapentin use in yourself or a loved one.

Symptoms of Gabapentin Misuse and Abuse

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

Side Effects of Gabapentin

No medication is perfect, and this fact also applies to gabapentin. Frequent inducement of high gabapentin dosage 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

Risks of Misuse and Overdose

Patients prescribed gabapentinoids, including gabapentin, are at an increased risk of drug misuse and overdose. This risk is exceptionally high for individuals with a history of substance misuse or mental health conditions. The risks are exacerbated when gabapentin is used alongside other CNS depressants, such as opioids and benzodiazepines. Reports of gabapentinoid abuse alone and with opioids have emerged, leading to severe consequences, including respiratory depression and increased risk of opioid overdose death.

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

Withdrawal Symptoms of Gabapentin

While gabapentin is generally considered safe when taken as prescribed, stopping it abruptly or reducing the dosage too quickly can lead to withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary in severity, and it is vital to be aware of them to manage and mitigate any potential health risks effectively. The following are typical withdrawal symptoms associated with gabapentin:

Mood Swings

Gabapentin withdrawal can lead to significant mood swings, including depression, crying spells, and even suicidal thoughts. These emotional changes can be intense and disruptive, highlighting the need for a gradual reduction in dosage under medical supervision.

Heart Palpitations

Individuals may experience heart palpitations, which can occur even without physical activity. This can be particularly alarming and uncomfortable, necessitating careful monitoring during the withdrawal process.

Severe Dizziness

Severe dizziness is a common withdrawal symptom that can interrupt daily activities and pose safety risks, such as an increased likelihood of falls or accidents.


Withdrawal from gabapentin can result in headaches that range from mild to severe. These headaches can be persistent and challenging to manage without proper medical guidance.

Muscle Spasms and Cramps

Muscle spasms and cramps are another common symptom, causing discomfort and pain that can affect mobility and daily functioning.

Increased Anxiety

Even individuals who did not previously experience anxiety may find that their anxiety levels increase during gabapentin withdrawal. This heightened anxiety can be distressing and may require therapeutic support.

signs of gabapentin addiction

Convulsions or Seizures

For those who were taking gabapentin to control seizures, discontinuing the medication abruptly can lead to a recurrence of convulsions or seizures. This severe risk underscores the importance of a medically supervised tapering process.


Insomnia is a frequent withdrawal symptom, significantly affecting daily life and overall well-being. Difficulty falling or staying asleep can exacerbate other withdrawal symptoms and hinder recovery.

Personality Changes

Personality changes such as increased agitation and irritability can occur during withdrawal, impacting relationships and daily interactions.

Increased Pain

As gabapentin is often used to treat pain conditions, withdrawal can lead to a resurgence of pain, particularly in the conditions that the medication was initially prescribed to manage.


Intense cravings for gabapentin can occur, making it challenging to stop using the medication without professional help.

Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating is a physical symptom that can be uncomfortable and indicative of the body’s adjustment to the absence of gabapentin.


Stomach Problems

Withdrawal can cause various stomach problems, including pain, nausea, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. These symptoms can affect nutrition and hydration.

Flu-like Symptoms

During withdrawal, individuals may experience flu-like symptoms such as coughing, fever, fatigue, and body aches. These symptoms can further complicate the withdrawal process and require supportive care.

Mixing Gabapentin With Other Drugs

As mentioned, one of the significant 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.

Gabapentin is available in capsule dosage forms, and it can be swallowed as is. However, some people who abuse gabapentin do so by loosening the capsule and snorting its powder directly, which intensifies the drug’s effects and increases the risk of dependency and overdose.

When Should I Seek Treatment for Gabapentin Addiction?

Gabapentin, while beneficial for many, poses significant risks when abused or combined with other substances. Despite not appearing on standard drug screening panels, gabapentin misuse is a serious concern. It has been used as a cutting agent for drugs like heroin and is sometimes mixed with alcohol, increasing the potential for dangerous interactions. Unfortunately, there is no antidote for a gabapentin overdose, making it crucial to seek immediate medical attention if overdose symptoms occur.

Professional help is often necessary to safely discontinue gabapentin, especially if it has been combined with other drugs. Abruptly stopping gabapentin can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including increased anxiety, restlessness, and seizures. A medically supervised detox program can ensure that withdrawal symptoms are treated promptly, making the process safer and more comfortable. Inpatient or outpatient drug addiction treatment may be recommended following detoxification to support long-term recovery. It is important to remember that addiction is a treatable condition, and with the right help, recovery is possible. Seeking professional assistance is the first step towards overcoming gabapentin addiction and ensuring a successful recovery.

Get Treatment Options for Gabapentin Abuse at Profound Recovery

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Are you or a loved one struggling with gabapentin addiction?  If you are and you’re looking to get safe and effective gabapentin withdrawal and substance abuse treatment, Profound Treatment Center in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles can help. 

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

Discover Wellness and Profound Healing

At Profound Treatment, you’ll be able to get safe and effective gabapentin rehab that will significantly 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. 

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Detox for Gabapentin in Los Angeles

Gabapentin dependence and withdrawal treatment at Profound 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.

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Levels of Care for Gabapentin Addiction & Dual Diagnosis

As an individual looking to receive treatment for gabapentin addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions at Profound Treatment, 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 patients remain comfortable, supported, and healthy. You’ll also have access to support groups and aftercare therapy as well.

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Gabapentin Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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.

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 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 irritate 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.

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 various factors, such as kidney function and dosage form (e.g., sustained-release gabapentin tablets), so it can sometimes be detected in urine days after ingestion.

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.

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.


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.

Yes, for some individuals, gabapentin can be challenging to discontinue due to withdrawal symptoms and psychological dependence. Gradual tapering under medical supervision can ease this process.

Gabapentin is not classified as a controlled substance in most places, but its potential for abuse and dependence has led to tighter prescribing guidelines. While not universally addictive, it can lead to dependency in some users.

Taking gabapentin daily, as prescribed, can effectively manage conditions like nerve pain, seizures, and anxiety. However, long-term use may lead to tolerance, requiring higher doses for the same effect, and potential dependence.

The most commonly reported side effect of gabapentin is dizziness, followed closely by drowsiness. These effects can impact daily activities and diminish as the body adjusts to the medication.

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