Gabapentin is also called Neurontin and is a drug that has been prescribed to patients suffering with epilepsy since around 1993 when it was approved by the FDA for such a job. Since then, it seems that the drug has been associated or linked with a number of other medical problems, often prescribed “off-label” in a bid to treat various ailments the FDA actually hasn’t approved it for.
It wasn’t until 2004 that Gabapentin was FDA-approved as a successful way of dealing with neuropathic pain and this was put down to its analgesic and anticonvulsant benefits. Not just proving helpful int he fight against pain, it has been shown to help with the mitigation of pain post-surgery, and can also speed up the recovery time.
It wasn’t until the 2004 FDA approval of Gabapentin for pain relief that people started to use it for recreational use, and it was at this point that the black market trade for the drug began, and also doctors started to hand it out to patients who were not suffering from neuropathic pain or epilepsy, namingly those suffering with alcohol addiction or other drug addictions.
The fact that it can be purchased for relatively cheap has encouraged a culture of Gabapentin recreational use, patients often allowing their friends to use it for non-severe pain, and also for it’s relatively subtle analgesic properties, much in the same way as people use opioids or benzodiazepines but on a smaller scale.
Some patients report taking higher doses than prescribed by their doctors because they have become addicted to the drug and have therefore built up a dependance and tolerance to it. The same ‘hit’ or relief would require a much higher dosage, often leading to patients turning to the black market or street marketing a bid to get more.
Why Has Gabapentin Recreation Use Increased?
There are a number of reasons why people are turning to Gabapentin as a recreational drug of choice. One of the most common reasons is because it offers a subtler, more manageable version of those benzodiazepines, drugs that are often quite hard to come by, especially when you’re trying to get them prescribed by a doctor who doesn’t think you require them. Sadly, Gabapentin is often available online, and with more and more doctors prescribing it “off-label”, it has become a cheaper and easier-to-get version of the benzodiazepines.
The similar properties it has makes it a viable option for those suffering with anxiety, basically offering a ‘relaxation’ effect that most patients can’t achieve alone.
When you combine the fact that Gabapentin is very similar to benzodiazepines, and it is mass produced on a much cheaper scale, you basically have a less intense and cheaper drug that provides similar effects.
You can buy the drug in various doses – 100mg, 300mg, and 400mg, and you can buy around 100 of the lower dose pills online (a generic brand) for about $20 – $30 which basically works out to about 60 cents to a buck per pill. As drugs go, it’s a relatively cheap one, one of the other biggest reasons why Gabapentin recreational use is on the increase. When you consider the price that many other street drugs can cost, Gabapentin provides a more viable option for many recreational drug users or drug addicts.
One time that Gabapentin has shown to be especially helpful is with drug and alcohol withdrawal and to be more precise, the withdrawal from opiates. It is said the analgesic properties help to make the withdrawal symptoms less severe. The only problem with this is that users are then said to turn to Gabapentin instead, forming another addiction rather than dealing with the original one. The ‘high’ is not as intense as what you would get from opiates, but can still provide similar effects for a drug user and when you take into consideration that the drug isn’t a controlled substance and therefore readily available, you can see where the problem lies. It also provides a safer substitute when used as prescribed.
Carrying on with the risks of Gabapentin recreational use, users often report taking huge doses to achieve that ‘buzz’. Because the drug is less severe than other benzodiazepines, users will look at doses around 900mg, in some cases going as high as 5000mg in long-term abusers.
As you can imagine, this will come with its fair share of side effects.
Gabapentin Recreation Use – Dangers + Risks
As we’ve discussed, many people turn to Gabapentin in a bid to relieve pain or to provide that relaxing “buzz” that opiates and benzodiazepines would otherwise we used for. In turn, this can cause to an addiction to the drug, often increasing with intensity, the dosage eventually becoming higher and higher, leading to more side effects (some adverse), and also a longer time to withdraw from the drug as and when you choose to.
There are many side effects linked to Gabapentin, all of which you could experience should you take the drug, prescribed by the doctor or otherwise. If it has been prescribed, you will usually be monitored to check your progress and also to ensure you don’t suffer with any negative side effects.
They can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling faint
- In very severe cases, coma
The chances of suffering with negative side effects will increase if you take the drug when it has not been prescribed by your doctor (because it could interact with other medications or medical conditions), and also if you don’t take the recommended dose. Recreational Gabapentin users are likely to experience side effects because they take higher doses to achieve that relaxing buzz we described earlier.
As users seek for higher and higher doses to achieve that high, overdose becomes a risk. This is rare but can happen with people who have never taken the drug before, taking it recreationally, and taking more than their body can deal with. This is when the drug use can result in a coma or unconsciousness.
We’ve also already touched on the subject of Gabapentin interacting with other drugs and medical conditions, and again, with recreational users, the higher doses will pose the big problem. It is reported that recreational users may mix their drug with other drugs to try and hence the buzz or high but this is incredibly dangerous and again, could lead to unconsciousness or even a coma. In some incidences, with the wrong drug interactions, it can be potentially fatal.
You should always speak with your doctor before taking any new drug to ensure it doesn’t interact with any medication you may already be taking, or any current medical conditions you may be suffering from.
How long does the Gabapentin buzz last?
This will depend on the dose as well as a number of other factors listed above, but doses under 600mg are said to have no intoxicating effect on the body at all. When taken orally, taking between 900mg and 5000mg can prove dangerous but, in pill format, will usually get to work in about an hour. Before this point, users don’t feel any differently at all.
There are other ways of taking Gabapentin but they are not advised and doctors consider them to be incredibly dangerous.
The mood boost and ‘high’ or relaxing buzz associated with the drug will normally last for several hours, and some users report a laughing sensation, much like getting the ‘giggles’ when you smoke marijuana.
At this stage, recreational drug takers will try to maintain their high by taking more of the drug, but this will always be followed by a ‘crash’ or ‘comedown’ which often comes with the same withdrawal symptoms as Gabapentin withdrawal – irritability, aggression, insomnia, fatigue, exhaustion, light-headedness, etc. It is at this point that users will often resort to taking more of the drug to try and combat the ‘crash’ and encourage the positive mood boost once again.
Just like all drugs, they should only be taken when advised or prescribed by your doctor, and you should always ensuring you are getting your medication from a reliable, reputable source. You can’t be sure what you’re getting when you purchase drugs on the internet, and you can’t be sure what the correct dosage is either. When you have not had the medication prescribed to you, you may not be sure of what dosage you need, or even what dosage could prove fatal, meaning playing with the drug, or planning to take it for recreational use, is actually a very dangerous activity.
If you think you have a problem with Gabapentin, seek medical advice. This is a drug that comes with nasty side effects if you try to stop taking it cold turkey, and a weaning process is often necessary for safe and comfortable withdrawal.