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Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin and Heroin

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People who contract shingles may develop postherpetic neuralgia, the nerve pain that causes a burning sensation after the blisters and rash have disappeared. In many instances, they are prescribed gabapentin for their discomfort. Gabapentin is also used as an antiepileptic because of its anticonvulsant properties. And, it is prescribed to treat restless leg syndrome. These are clear cut cases in which the medical use of the medication helps patients. But, some people choose to abuse gabapentin by combining it with heroin, and that is a terrible choice.

If you have been mixing gabapentin or any other prescription drug with heroin, you are putting your life in danger. It’s important that you make some lifesaving changes. You have reached a point where heroin use isn’t a choice; it is a compulsion. That means you can’t just muster up the willpower and quit, especially if you are using multiple substances.

You need help and we are ready to provide it. Call 800-662-8079(Who Answers?) to learn more about drug addiction withdrawal and treatment. Our representatives are waiting to answer all of your questions and to recommend possible treatment programs.

Why Do People Abuse Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is not scheduled as a controlled substance, so the general consensus seems to be that is has little potential for abuse or dependence. However, in some ways it resembles those drugs because it can cause psychoactive effects and chronic users do experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it.

People who abuse gabapentin liken its effects to the “high” associated with other drugs that act on the central nervous system, like benzodiazepines and barbiturates, and marijuana. These drugs slow brain activity, which makes them sedating. An article from The British Journal of General Practice notes the effect of the medication depends upon:

Gabapentin and Heroin

Gabapentin is often abused for its euphoric effects.

  • Dosage
  • User
  • Past experiences
  • Expectations
  • Psychiatric history

The article goes on to list some of the experiences reported by users.

  • Improved sociability
  • Euphoria
  • Sense of calm
  • Relaxation
  • Zombie-like state

Some people believe that abuse is common because Gabapentin increase the high associated with central nervous system drugs.

Is Gabapentin Really Being Misused?

Given the lack of scheduling and the popular belief that users are unlikely to abuse or become dependent on gabapentin, it might be easy to write off claims that it is being illicitly used, but the research backs it up.

A recent study presented at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting dealt with nonmedical gabapentin use. In a study of the urine test results of patients being treated at addiction treatment centers and pain clinics, 70 patients (21.67 percent of the total studied) were positive for non-prescribed gabapentin. Of those people, 66 were also taking other prescription drugs; 82.84 percent of those users were being prescribed opiates. Not only is gabapentin being abused, users are taking it with opiates, which is what heroin is. The problem is real.

An IMS report asserts 57 million gabapentin prescriptions were written in the United States in 2015, which demonstrates a 42 percent increase from 2011. So, the problem is on the rise. As people crack down on overprescribing of opiates, gabapentin becomes a “safe” alternative. But, more prescriptions means more medication to be diverted into nonmedical use. The Drug Abuse Warning Network reported the number of emergency department visits for abuse or misuse of gabapentin grew almost five times larger between 2008 and 2011.

Is Gabapentin Withdrawal Dangerous?

Why Is Mixing Gabapentin with Heroin Dangerous?

Gabapentin has been successfully used to treat heroin dependence. It has been shown to be effective at combatting withdrawal symptoms. But, if it is to be used in that manner, it needs to be done under the supervision of a doctor. Independently using gabapentin when you are still using heroin puts you at risk.

People who mix heroin and gabapentin increase their difficulty with concentration and generally invite drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. There is also an increased risk of respiratory depression, which can lead to seizures, coma, and death.

It’s important to also note that gabapentin is fatal in overdose. But, unlike heroin, which is also lethal, there is no antidote and the medication’s long half-life means that any overdose requires prolonged, intensive management. Using two different drugs that are lethal in the case of an overdose doubles the risk you are taking.

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