Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol - Vertava Health of Ohio

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Mixing Drugs: Gabapentin and Alcohol Use

Gabapentin

You have probably heard that mixing prescription medication with alcohol can cause serious, unwanted side effects. It is true that not every medication will cause severe side effects when combined with alcohol, but it is good practice to keep medication and alcohol use separate. 

Many medications can have serious interactions with alcohol. Some medications, including gabapentin, can cause you to feel light-headed, lose balance, or feel dizzy. Similarly, alcohol can impair your motor abilities and make you sleepy or drowsy. When alcohol is mixed with medication that also impairs motor abilities, the drowsiness or impaired ability can result in more severe side effects.

Gabapentin is used to treat epileptic seizures, postherpetic neuralgia, nerve pain that occurs due to shingles, restless leg syndrome, and withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependency. The medication is useful in many situations, but as we will explain later, it can be addictive. The use of gabapentin and the quitting of the medication should always be medically supervised to ensure a patient’s safety. 

What is Gabapentin and What Are the Side Effects?

Gabapentin is the generic name of a prescription medication that is an anticonvulsant. The drug is also known by its brand name of Neurontin. Generic drugs typically cost less than their brand-name counterparts. There may be some differences in the form, and the dosage strengths that are available depending on whether the generic or brand-name prescription is ordered.

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Gabapentin is used to treat seizures in adults and children, along with nerve pain caused by the shingles virus. It can also be used to treat alcohol addiction.

Gabapentin Can Cause Side Effects

Some of these side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Lack of physical coordination
  • Uncontrolled and unusual eye movements
  • Increased hostile behavior
  • Restlessness
  • Bodily tremors or shaking
  • Suicidal thoughts or depression

If you have experienced any of these side effects, talk with your doctor about your experience. Your doctor can offer more information and may reconsider the risks of taking the drug with its benefits, depending on your specific needs and healthcare plan. Remaining open with your medical provider about side effects or questions you might have can help you remain organized and informed about every step of your medical care.

What Happens When Taking Gabapentin and Drinking Alcohol Mix?

Mixing drinkingAlcohol consumption should be avoided when taking gabapentin. When these two substances mix, the result is a more severe form of drowsiness and lack of alertness in the individual. Mixing these two drugs could indicate that you have a problem with alcoholism.

Alcohol is a depressant. This does NOT mean that it makes a person feel depressed or develop a major depressive disorder. A depressant is any substance that depresses neuroactivity in the brain. This doesn’t mean you feel depressed or lethargic. It means different areas in your brain are being depressed so that they don’t work as well or at all, like when you have a blackout and no memory of the night before.

Dangers of Taking Prescription Medication and Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most well-known and common depressants. Depressants can affect the central nervous system, slowing down the communication between the brain and the body. This is why, upon consuming alcohol, an individual might feel more relaxed and less constricted. Individuals who have consumed greater quantities of alcohol can also experience slowed reactions and clumsier movements, making bodily coordination difficult.

Gabapentin is a medication that targets the body’s central nervous system to fulfill its duty as an anticonvulsant. While the focus on the central nervous system helps patients better control seizures, it also affects motor skills. The body’s nervous system has three main functions: sensory, integration, and motor. Motor skills are particularly affected by gabapentin. This is why individuals taking gabapentin can experience increased clumsiness, lack of coordination, dizziness, and difficulty balancing. 

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When a depressant and a medication that affects the nervous system are mixed, the intensity of side effects like slower reactions, clumsiness, dizziness, and difficulties in driving and operating other machinery is increased. The consequences of these severe side effects could potentially put a patient in a dangerous situation. Motor skills and coordination are some of the most basic abilities that allow an individual to function throughout the day and seamlessly fulfill personal and professional obligations. When motor skills are impaired, the likelihood of accidents is greater. 

To avoid becoming excessively drowsy and reaching a critical point of physical incoordination, patients should avoid combining alcohol with gabapentin.

Gabapentin Addiction – The Road to Recovery

Gabapentin works by blocking certain signals in the brain. By blocking these signals, gabapentin can calm the signals that prompt anxiety, pain, and agitation, all common withdrawal symptoms. These are common withdrawal symptoms and gabapentin can be prescribed to make withdrawal more comfortable and manageable for the patient.

However, gabapentin, although it’s used to manage withdrawal symptoms, can also be addictive. If this medication is used frequently, an individual can become dependent on it. Once the body has consumed gabapentin in frequent intervals over a certain period of time, the body becomes accustomed to receiving that drug. Without the drug, the body will exhibit withdrawal symptoms from the loss of that medication in the system.

In some people, gabapentin causes feelings of euphoria and entices some individuals to continue using the medication in illicit doses to experience that feeling of “high.” Continued usage in higher doses can lead to addiction and put an individual at risk of overdose. 

Because of its addictive nature, quitting gabapentin should not be done cold turkey. The process of weaning the dose should be medically supervised in order to ensure the patient’s safety throughout the process. Medical supervision will also allow a doctor to monitor withdrawal symptoms and make sure a patient is correctly and safely handling the process.

Keep Your Doctor Informed If Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol

Medications affect different people in a variety of ways. This is why it is important to keep your doctor informed and updated on any changes or concerns you may have while taking the medication.

If you have used alcohol while using prescribed gabapentin, let your doctor know so they can track any side effects that may be particularly strong or noticeable. The combination of a depressant and affected nervous system can cause severe, adverse effects on a patient. Let your health care team assist in managing and developing a plan to build a healthier life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with improper or worrisome gabapentin or alcohol use, we’re here to provide assistance through information and treatment. We want to help you live out your best future. Get the help you need today by calling us at 1-888-481-7821.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Does alcohol interact with gabapentin?

When alcohol interacts with gabapentin, the side effects of both gabapentin and alcohol are amplified. An individual can experience extreme drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired motor skills and coordination. It is best if alcohol use is avoided while taking gabapentin.

Is it bad to mix medicine and alcohol?

Many medicines can have adverse effects when mixed with alcohol. It is true that not every single medicine will cause negative consequences or side effects. Still, many medications, even over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies, can result in negative effects.

Mixing alcohol with medications can cause nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and loss of coordination. You may also be at higher risk of heart problems or internal bleeding. Depending on your body’s system, alcohol may also render some medications less effective or more toxic.

Generally, it is preferable to avoid mixing medicine and alcohol when possible. In this way, you can be more certain that you are taking care of your health and avoiding unnecessary risks.

What drugs should not be taken with gabapentin?

Alcohol should not be taken with gabapentin. Morphine, aluminum hydroxide, and magnesium hydroxide should also be avoided.

Always consult with your doctor if you have any questions about what medication you can take in combination with gabapentin.

What happens when you mix alcohol with antipsychotics?

When alcohol is mixed with antipsychotics, an individual may reduce the effectiveness of the antipsychotic medication. This could lead to the return of hallucinations and delusions. Antipsychotic side effects include sedation and drowsiness. Similar to gabapentin, alcohol can enhance the side effects of antipsychotics.

Is gabapentin addictive? 

Gabapentin is widely considered less addictive than opioid counterparts, but gabapentin substance use and addiction can still happen. Consult a doctor for assistance in quitting a gabapentin addiction. Quitting gabapentin cold turkey can be dangerous. Seeking medical assistance is the best way to get help for a gabapentin addiction.

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