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Gabapentin abuse can trigger drug addiction: Study

The problem of opioid abuse has reached an epidemic level in the United States. Opioids were introduced in the U.S. to help people get relief from incessant and excruciating pain. Providing them with benign opioids was considered America’s greatest contribution to medical science, but few had anticipated that overdose of the same would lead to problems of dependence, abuse and addiction.

A recent research, titled “Prevalence of Gabapentin Abuse Among Clinical Patients,” has revealed the prevalence of gabapentin abuse among patients who are already using opioids. Gabapentin is a medicine prescribed to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, hot flashes and restless leg syndrome.

When gabapentin is taken alone, the chance of getting addicted to it is quite low. However,

when taken along with opioids, muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety medicines, it can aggravate the risk of abuse or addiction. The findings were shared by the scientists at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Philadelphia in August 2016.

Patients taking opioids and anti-anxiety drugs abuse gabapentin

To examine the impact of gabapentin when used with palliative medications or when used to reduce anxiety, the scientists analyzed the details of 323 patients over a period of five months. The patients were made to undergo urine screen test for the presence of opioids or opiates, drugs mostly abused, gabapentin, pregabalin, and other addictive substances.

An analysis of the patients indicated that 240 patients complied with their treatment regimens as advised by their medical practitioners. This means that the patients had tested positive only for prescription drugs, while no results were obtained regarding the use of any kind of non-prescription medications. A total of 13 patients had not used gabapentin despite being recommended by their physicians. The rest 70 patients, nevertheless, tested positive for the presence of non-prescription gabapentin.

Impact of gabapentin if used with opioids, other substances

Among the patients who had tested positive for non-prescription gabapentin, 66 patients had been advised other drugs, including opioids, opioids and cyclobenzaprine, opioids and benzodiazepines, or opioids along with other substances. It was found that four patients who were not on a prescription treatment program had tested positive for gabapentin use, among other substances.

The authors of the study said, “While gabapentin is relatively safe and has a low potential for serious adverse effects, even in large doses, negative effects may occur when concomitant use with other CNS depressants occurs.”

Seeking treatment for addiction

Dependence on any substance can be fatal. Americans already feel besieged by rising opioid abuse that has claimed millions of lives over the past decade. Abuse of any new kind of medication will only aggravate the problems of Americans, reeling from the devastating impact of opioid abuse.

Most addicts complain about their dependence problems regarding misuse of a single drug, but the actual problem lies in their tendency to abuse multiple drugs. Polydrug use is the norm which has only deteriorated the drug addiction problem in the U.S.

Despite being educated about the adverse effects of drug use, most people do not seek treatment for fear of the surrounding stigma. The fear of backlash coerces addicts to look for means of self-medication which gives rise to the problem of addiction. Addicts do not suffer alone; their families also pay the price. Addiction can be overcome when people accept their problems and realize the need to seek timely treatment.

If you or your loved one is addicted and is looking for help, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for more information on drug addiction rehabilitation centers available in your vicinity. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 441-4405 or chat online for further advice on drug rehab centers.

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