Beginning any new prescription medication generally comes with potential risks as well as possible side effects. The prescription drug gabapentin is no different. While safe to take as prescribed, mixing Gabapentin and alcohol can have potentially serious side effects as well as possible interactions. Drowsiness, dizziness, and a hard time concentrating are just a few of the side effects that can occur when drinking alcohol while taking gabapentin.
What Is Gabapentin (Neurontin)?
Gabapentin, brand name Neurontin, is a prescription medication that is most commonly used to prevent and control seizures. Gabapentin also has various other uses, including to treat nerve pain as a result of shingles. Additionally, gabapentin is currently being experimented with for the treatment of hard-to-treat depression, mood swings, and anxiety. It is known as an antiepileptic and anticonvulsant medication.
Gabapentin is used to help calm impulses that can occur in the nervous system and lead to seizures and nerve pain. It may also play a role in the management of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is known as the calming neurotransmitter.
Possible Side Effects of Gabapentin
As with any prescription medication, gabapentin does come with the possibility of side effects. Some of the most common side effects experienced while taking this drug include:
- problems with vision
- weight gain
All of these side effects are typically temporary and should subside after taking the medication for a period of time. More severe side effects that rarely but may occur while taking gabapentin include joint pain, blurred vision, viral infection, and motion sickness. If any of these side effects are experienced while taking Neurontin, you should seek medical help immediately.
Additionally, individuals taking gabapentin are advised to monitor their mood, as antiepileptics have been associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If these thoughts or behaviors arise, you should speak with your doctor immediately.
Mixing Gabapentin And Alcohol
Many people don’t consider the prescription medication they are taking when they drink alcohol, so it’s relatively common for individuals to drink while taking gabapentin. However, it’s important to be aware of the possible side effects that could arise when drinking alcohol and taking this drug.
Mixing alcohol and gabapentin can cause the effects of the two substances to become heightened. This means that the side effects of gabapentin can become worse while drinking alcohol, and the effects of alcohol can be more severe when drank while taking gabapentin. For example, someone may become extremely intoxicated after only a few drinks when on gabapentin.
Risks Of Combining Gabapentin And Alcohol
Side effects of either substance can become worsened when alcohol and gabapentin are combined. As a result, the following side effects may occur or become heightened when mixing alcohol and gabapentin:
- loss of coordination
- digestive issues
If you are already experiencing side effects while taking gabapentin, it’s best to avoid alcohol until you have spoken with your doctor.
Consequences Of Drinking Alcohol With Gabapentin
While not common, death is a possibility when mixing alcohol and gabapentin. Both substances are known to slow down a person’s breathing, and ingesting enough of the substances together can have detrimental effects.
Additionally, alcohol and gabapentin can both have a dramatic effect on mood, thoughts, and behaviors. Individuals who drink alcohol while on gabapentin may display erratic behavior and make bad decisions, which can result in injury or death.
Gabapentin And Alcohol Detox And Withdrawal
Individuals who are getting help for an alcohol use disorder generally will begin with a medically supervised detox program. This is because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe as well as uncomfortable, and, depending on the level of dependence, even deadly.
A medically supervised detox program provides a comfortable and safe environment to withdraw from alcohol that is free from temptation. It also offers 24/7 care and support from trained medical professionals who can provide any medication if needed throughout the withdrawal process. Detox programs tend to range from three to 10 days but will vary depending on the person’s unique condition.
Some detox facilities and alcohol addiction treatment centers use medication to make the withdrawal process easier. Common medications used include acamprosate calcium (Campral) and naltrexone (Vivitrol).
Naltrexone is a medication that helps to prevent relapse by blocking the euphoric effects of alcohol on the body and mind. Acamprosate calcium helps to minimize the physical and mental stress that an individual can feel once off alcohol. Both drugs work to ease withdrawal symptoms and help a person stay sober.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
While the first step to recovering from an alcohol addiction is often a medically supervised detox program, that is not the end for most people. Many individuals choose to continue their recovery path by attending an inpatient alcohol addiction treatment program. This is often considered the most successful form of addiction treatment and is also the most intensive kind of treatment for alcoholism.
There are many different kinds of therapy that may be used in an inpatient treatment facility. A few of the most popular therapies include:
- Behavioral Therapy — Many rehab centers utilize behavioral therapy throughout their treatment programs. Behavioral therapy works to change negative thoughts and behaviors in an attempt to better someone’s life. Common types of behavioral therapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and aversion therapy.
- Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment — Many individuals suffer from co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis. This is when someone has both a substance use disorder and mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. While this can certainly make treatment more difficult, many rehab facilities offer specialized programs for co-occurring disorders.
In addition to inpatient treatment for an alcohol use disorder, there are also many forms of outpatient treatment that an individual can attend. Outpatient treatment is often suggested for those with a more mild form of alcohol use disorder or those who cannot get away from family or their job. It’s best to speak with your doctor to determine which type of treatment is best for your unique condition.
To learn more about the side effects and interactions that can occur when mixing gabapentin and alcohol, contact us today.