What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is the generic name for the prescription medication Neurontin. The anticonvulsant drug is used to treat neuropathic pain and epileptic disorders. This encompasses a number of conditions including:
- neuropathic pain (nerve pain)
- hot flashes
- restless leg syndrome
These disorders are caused by the overstimulation of areas of the brain. Gabapentin works by reducing the number of signals between nerves in the organ, and in turn, easing symptoms by acting as a mild tranquillizer. The drug molecules directly bind to receptors in the central nervous system – increasing the amount of the body’s primary neurotransmitter GABA which is binding to GABA receptors and decreasing levels of glutamate. This in turn changes how the body responds to pain, and produces anticonvulsant effects, as well as feelings of relaxation.
Gabapentin was first released on the US market in 1993. Ever since it has been commonly prescribed by doctors thinking there is little worry of abuse potential. This has resulted in the drug not being classified as a ‘controlled substance’ by the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, this misconception is wrong, with the drug’s euphoric highs definitely able to result in a substance use disorder.
Can You Snort Gabapentin?
The medication is usually prescribed as an oral capsule, oral solution, or immediate release oral tablet. However, users who start to abuse the drug commonly snort gabapentin in powdered form through the nasal passages.
What Happens when You Snort Gabapentin?
People snort gabapentin in large amounts to feel the positive effects of the drug, and these include euphoria, calmness, and increased sociability. Over time, this high becomes addictive and something that users chase after, creating a physical and psychological dependence on the drug and resulting in addiction.
People who are prescribed gabapentin can develop a drug abuse if the recommended guidelines for safely consuming it are not followed. A study found that 40-60% of people who have a gabapentin prescription have abused it. This number is quite high, although most people who abuse the substance are recreational drug users. People who abuse opioids also have a higher chance of misusing gabapentin also, with 15-20% of opioid users also using gabapentin.
There are commonalities between all types of substance abuse disorders. If you suspect someone has a drug problem, watch out for these signs of gabapentin addiction:
- secretive behaviors
- an inability to stop snorting gabapentin without experiencing withdrawal symptoms and despite it having a negative impact on their life
- social isolation
- compulsive behaviors
- defensiveness surrounding conversations about their drug-taking
- pill bottles in their home
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- delayed motor skills and coordination problems
- bloodshot eyes
- changes in mood
- drained finances
Dangers and Side Effects of Snorting Gabapentin
Short-Term Side Effects
As mentioned, gabapentin is a psychoactive substance that produces a pleasurable, euphoric experience. However, this short-lived satisfaction only lasts a few hours before the drug’s adverse effects can kick in, which include potentially dangerous symptoms like:
- nystagmus: abnormal eye movements
- blurred vision
- blood pressure changes
- panic attacks
- weakness and lack of energy
- generally uneasy feelings
- aggressive behavior
- suicidal thoughts
Long-Term Side Effects of Gabapentin Abuse
Over time, gabapentin use can start to seriously impact its user’s physical and mental health, leading to:
- memory loss
- weight gain
- weakened muscles
- fatal toxicity for individuals with preexisting chronic kidney disease
- respiratory failure
- increased risk of mental illness: depression, anxiety, psychosis
Allergic Reactions from Snorting Gabapentin
It is possible for people to get an allergic reaction to gabapentin. If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms after taking gabapentin, do not hesitate to call the emergency services.
An allergic reaction to this drug can commonly be life-threatening, producing symptoms such as:
- muscle pain and fatigue
- skin rashes
- hives and welts
- swollen tongue and lips
- unusual bleeding and bruising
- yellowing of the skin and eyes
- toxic delirium: this also increases the intensity of other gabapentin symptoms and cravings, making users dangerously consume more of the substance
A Gabapentin Overdose
The most popular other substances people take with gabapentin are alcohol, opioids, heroin, and benzodiazepines, which enhance the intensity of the high. Regardless of this boost in positive effects, mixing gabapentin and other drugs can seriously increase the risk of an overdose compared to taking the drug alone.
Despite being at high risk of overdose when combined with other drugs, alone the substance is quite difficult to overdose on. Regardless, individuals who snort gabapentin in large amounts and long-term users hugely increase their risk of reaching this life-threatening point.
Overdose symptoms from snorting gabapentin mainly involve a complete deceleration of the body’s systems, including:
- muscle weakness
- slurred speech
- drooping eyelids
- difficulty breathing
- low blood pressure
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, ring the emergency services as soon as possible.
What Do Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms Look Like?
Once an individual has become addicted to gabapentin, a cycle of physical and psychological dependency is formed. When the drug stops being taken, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can kick in, such as:
- intense cravings
- excessive sweating
- rapid heartbeat
- muscle aches and pains
- flu symptoms
- chills and tremors
Treatment for Gabapentin Addiction
Any substance abuse disorder is extremely difficult to tame. Luckily, with the help of trained professionals, there are a number of ways to kick a gabapentin addiction and move forward to a life of sobriety.
Stopping snorting gabapentin all at once may seem like the solution to breaking the cycle of addiction, however, this can actually produce withdrawal symptoms that are threatening and dangerous. There needs to be an experienced medical support team present to help navigate as safely and comfortably as possible the intense symptoms gabapentin abusers experience.
The goal of medical detox is to cleanse the body of gabapentin over a gradual period, usually in a substance abuse clinic. Here, multiple doctors can direct the best way to come off the drug and provide you with comprehensive 24/7 care.
Depending on the individual, different kinds of therapy may be required. A common type of psychotherapy used in drug addiction treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Here, a trained professional can help navigate through your personal goals, tackling issues such as:
- setting up coping mechanisms
- overcoming negative habits
- helping realize the root cause of the addiction
- identifying triggers
- overcoming past trauma
- improving relationships impacted by drug use
Family therapy can also be extremely useful in many cases to overcome how the substance abuse disorder may have collectively impacted everyone, providing a safe space for a family to get things off their chest guided by a therapist. It also serves as an opportunity for all family members to better understand what their loved one is going through and the best way they can support them.
Rehab can be an extremely effective option for both short and long-term addiction treatment support. Here, medical professionals can create a personalized substance abuse treatment program that suits your current needs, mental health, and medical history.
Overcoming a drug abuse disorder is an extremely challenging mountain to climb. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with gabapentin addiction, contact Cirque Lodge today. Our experts can create a professional treatment program that’s right for each individual, assisting them on their road to recovery as smoothly and swiftly as possible.