Neurontin is the well-known brand name for the prescription medication gabapentin. This medication is an anticonvulsant used to treat epileptic seizures. Neurontin is also prescribed to treat postherpetic neuralgia caused by shingles, restless leg syndrome, acute pain conditions and essential tremor.
Neurontin reduces the activity of GABA neurotransmitters. It is for this reason that Neurontin is used to treat the withdrawal symptoms from a number of substances including marijuana, benzodiazepines, alcohol and opioids.
Neurontin is generally used during a supervised medical detox program. After detoxification, Neurontin may be prescribed as a preventative to ease symptoms and help the patient adjust to their sober lifestyle. Neurontin should only be used under medical supervision because it has been shown to cause suicidal thoughts as well as other medical concerns.
- Chest pain
- Sleep problems
- High blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
During drug withdrawal, the patient may experience a multitude of symptoms including tremors, pain, agitation, anxiety and irritability. Neurontin reduces the activity in the brain responsible for these symptoms. Neurontin also helps the patient feel more calm, relaxed and better equipped to battle their addiction.
The Risk of Neurontin Dependency
There is a downside to Neurontin use. When Neurontin is used frequently or long-term to treat a medical condition, the patient can develop a physical dependence on the drug. The body soon becomes reliant on this medication, and then requires Neurontin to function. When a person is dependant on Neurontin, they will experience withdrawal syndrome if the dosage is reduced or when the medication is stopped. Neurontin should not be stopped abruptly.
The Risk of Neurontin Abuse
Some people get a euphoric rush when using this drug, which may lead to them taking higher doses than prescribed to recapture that feeling. Neurontin abuse can lead to severe side effects and the increased risk of overdose.
The risk of Neurontin abuse is more likely to occur in those who are already addicted to other substances, including cocaine, alcohol, and opioids. The addict may take Neurontin when their preferred substance is not available. More than 25 percent of those addicted to opioids have also abused Neurontin.
Neurontin abuse will affect the patient’s mood and mental state. Many will experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors. There are other effects on the abuser’s mental health.
- Panic attacks
- Agitation and irritability
- Aggression or violent tendencies
- Insomnia or sleep problems
- Withdrawal from others
- Preoccupation with death and dying
The risk of overdose increases after a patient stops taking Neurontin, but then returns to the drug without decreasing the dosage. Neurontin overdose can cause permanent damage to the heart, liver and kidneys. There is no antidote to a Neurontin overdose. The symptoms of Neurontin overdose are a medical emergency.
- Slurred Speech
- Double vision
Symptoms of Neurontin withdrawal usually start within 12 hours of the last dose. Initially, the patient will feel anxiety, insomnia, pain, sweating and nausea. These withdrawal symptoms can last for up to a week.
Withdrawal from Neurontin can also trigger seizures, compulsive thoughts, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. These withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks or months. While there are no FDA approved medications to treat Neurontin withdrawal, medications can be prescribed to treat the individual symptoms.
The Treatment for Neurontin Addiction
There are dangers involved in Neurontin withdrawal. It is important that a medical detox is managed under the constant supervision of a medical professional. Having supervision will ensure that complications from withdrawal are prevented, and immediate treatment can be administered if it is needed.
Neurontin withdrawal will be more complex if other substances are also involved. Currently, there is no specific treatment option dedicated to Neurontin detoxification. However, there are evidence-based treatments for other addictive drugs that also work for Neurontin dependence.
Some patients may have been abusing Neurontin in an effort to self-medicate mental health conditions or physical diseases. Addressing the patients underlying medical conditions will help to formulate a comprehensive treatment plan. Typically Neurontin addiction treatment will follow specific steps.
- Detoxification, eliminating all substances from the body
- Behavior counseling
- Medication for the addiction and other conditions if necessary
- Evaluation and treatment of any mental health conditions
- Long-term follow-up care
Treatment Options for Addiction
The ideal treatment plan will be determined by the severity of the addiction and the needs of the client. Many people with a severe addiction will begin their treatment at an inpatient facility.
Long-term care can last for 6-12 months. During this time the patient will have 24-hour access to medical and psychological care. Following detox, clients will receive additional treatment based on their needs. This would include a 12-step program, individual counseling, group therapy, lectures and related discussions.
Residential treatment programs are often the most effective. An inpatient treatment program removes the opportunity for the patient to relapse. Inpatient care keeps the recovering addict away from potential triggers that could interfere with their progress.
For some patients, a partial hospitalization program may be ideal. During partial hospitalization, clients receive services for at least six hours a day for five days out of their week. While there is not as much supervision with the partial hospitalization program, the client will receive weekly therapy sessions, as well as group therapies and recreational activities. The partial hospitalization program will allow the recovering addict to receive medical care while maintaining their connections within their community.
Intensive outpatient treatment is the least restrictive of the three treatment options. The client receives professional care for three hours each day for three days out of every week. Outpatient therapy is designed to help patients make the transition back into their community while they receive assistance with aftercare plans and employment opportunities.
If you need help with your battle against substance abuse, we are here to help. Call us at 888-380-0342. Our counselors are available to you 24 hours a day. We believe that recovery is possible for everyone.