Is Neurontin a Narcotic?

Neurontin-boxNeurotonin (Gabapentin) is the drug used for treating seizures, epilepsy, RLS and nerve pain which is caused by herpes virus. Its properties are anticonvulsive which can help with seizure reduction and it also has analgesic effects which can be used as a painkiller solution. It is on the market since 1993 and it was primarily approved for treating seizures in epilepsy as an adjunct.

As an “off-label” drug it is used for anxiety disorders, restless-leg-syndrome, hot flashes, chronic pain, opiate and alcohol withdrawal drug replacement. The marketers were sued for off-label use of Gabapentin which they agreed on $430 million settlement.

The Gabapentin has an impact on the GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) which is neurotransmitter with inhibitory properties. It is a question, due to its availability, is Gabapentin considered a “narcotic”?

Is Neurontin (Gabapentin) A Narcotic?

In order to determine either the Neurontin is a narcotic or not, here is the definition of the “narcotic”. Narcotic is:

“A drug or substance affecting mood or behavior and sold for nonmedical purposes – especially an illegal one.”

Does Neurontin change the person’s mood or alternate its state? Let’s elaborate on those.

Neurontin (Gabapentin) And Mood

It is proven that the Gabapentin has mood boosting effect where it gives the satisfaction feeling and it gives the physical relaxation which can change the person’s mood instantly. Some even reported feeling the state of euphoria, especially those who took excessive doses over 600 mg.

Neurontin (Gabapentin) And Behavior

Some individuals have reported behavior changes where it makes them more active, more social and it reduces the inhibition in the nervous system. It is noticed at a lower dosage intake, but it can result in effects of behavior calming and action control when taken in higher doses. It is not proven but is is surely reported among users.

Legal Status

A Gabapentin is a legal drug used with a doctor’s prescription. When using off-label and without the doctor’s prescription, it is considered to be illegal.

Nonmedical Purposes Sale

Gabapentin is approved medicine for neuropathic pain and epilepsy seizures. Other conditions which are treated off-label with this medicine are illegal and it can be done due to many reasons. One can sell drugs to make money, others can buy it in order to “get high” and to feel euphoric state. It can be done by an individual or in uncontrolled markets.

Considering the definition of the narcotic, Neurontin (Gabapentin) can fit in a “narcotic” definition and it can alter the mood and change the behavior. It is used illegally off-label for conditions but it can be noted as the drug when used with a doctor’s prescription.

Why Neurontin (Gabapentin) Is Not Approved As A Narcotic?

Narcotics are supposed to induce sleep and hypnosis. A word narcotic is used to describe a drug which can induce such effects and will present psychoactive substance. It comes from a Greek word “narkō” which means “make numb”. People often interpret narcotics as opioids such as heroin, morphine and some hydrocodone and other synthetic drugs which can act as psychoactive drugs. Since Gabapentin does not cause addiction and/or dependence, in theory, it is not described as a “narcotic”.

Does Neurontin Fit The Legal Definition Of “Narcotic” In United States?

Neurontin (Gabapentin) does not fit the legal criteria for narcotic in the United States. The legal criteria for “narcotic drugs” in the United States are: any substances totally prohibited or used in violation of governmental regulation (e.g. morphine). When in hospital surrounding, morphine can be used as an opioid replacement drug. It is a controlled substance, unlike Gabapentin.

The penalty for selling a prescription drug or using it off-label are not that harsh as the ones for possession and sale of a narcotic substance. Penalties for narcotic possession/sale are from long-term jail to thousands of dollars for a penalty. The penalties for possession/selling Gabapentin are not that harsh with milder fines.

Formal Vs. Informal Context

When referring to formal context, Gabapentin is not considered narcotic since it can be used as a medical therapy and it isn’t opioid such as heroin. It does have pain-relieving effects but it isn’t a controlled substance, so some may not perceive it as a narcotic.

Formal context

It does not create dependence in theory, even though some people say they have experienced it while using this medication. Most “narcotics” do cause dependence either psychological or physical. Since it does not have the high rush effect and it is usually taken in a minimal effective dose, it does not have a high abuse potential, so it is not considered a narcotic. It is available with a prescription and it is refillable while other narcotics are strictly controlled and aren’t refillable. The overdose is unlikely to happen since the abuse potential is low. It is used in smaller doses and it is usually used off-label for certain conditions, where people are less possible to overdose. The tolerance will less likely happen to a degree where the patients will start to  intake higher doses to obtain the same effect while some of the narcotics like heroin or morphine have a rapid tolerance development.

Informal Context

When analyzing informal context, Neurontin (Gabapentin) can be considered a narcotic. It can cause certain effects which are linked to the narcotic properties.

Analgesic Effects

Gabapentin can cause analgesic effects which are used when taking this drug as an off-label medicine for neuropathic pain. It isn’t as strong as other opioids, but it does have pain-relieving properties.

Mood Altering

Gabapentin may not affect every individual, but it can act as a mood changer where it can promote positive feeling and mood stabilization. It may not have the same effect as some opioids, but it does change the mood to one point.


Gabapentin is considered as a low dependence development drug, which can happen among some of the users. Some have reported both physical and psychological dependence in a milder form.

Recreational Use

Some individuals claim it can promote the feeling of being “high” and cause euphoria and positive feeling. It gives the relaxation and a pleasant feeling which is similar to those when taking an opioid.


Although there are small chances for intoxication, it can have a toxic effect if taken in a greater dose than 600 mg. It can have a euphoric effect at supratherapeutic doses when going over 3000 mg.


Neurontin (Gabapentin) is NOT considered a narcotic. It does not have the same effects as other narcotics, it has a low abuse potential, it is not a controlled substance, it is not associated with dependence. It can be intoxicating, but when compared to heroin, it isn’t stated very often. Those who take recreational drugs usually don’t use Gabapentin due to its mild effects, since there are drugs with a rapid rush and mood changing effects such as hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone. The bioavailability decreases when taken in higher doses, and this also contributes to the Gabapentin not being a narcotic.

What Do You Think?

Do you consider Neurontin (Gabapentin) a narcotic? Should it be a “Schedule V” controlled substance like some of the narcotics? Does it cause dependence and does mood changing effects? Share your experiences when using Gabapentin. Are there some drugs which are similar to the Gabapentin? Comment down bellow.


  1. My doctor has me one 100mg every 4 hours and said take 200mg if I need to. I have taken 300mg and 400mg with no pain relief. So I was wondering why bother. Will it build up in my body and eventually start working?

    • Continue to monitor your symptoms and experiences. If you find that you want to speak with a medical professional, then do so. Make an appointment at this time to find answers to any questions that you may have. Best of luck, Ralph!


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