Opioids have gotten a lot of press coverage lately. Why?
Gabapentin and Opioids Make National Headlines
During the Trump administration, the federal government finally declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in the United States. Tens of thousands of Americans died from opioid overdoses before the federal government finally sat up and took notice. But, thankfully, people in power are taking action and seeking a solution to the problem of opioid addiction in America. It is important to understand the addictive substances fueling this epidemic. While prescription opioid painkillers like oxycodone are well known, there are lesser-known painkillers that are equally dangerous, such as gabapentin. Gabapentin (also known by its brand name “Neurontin” and its street name “gabbies”) is not an opioid. It’s not quite as deadly, dangerous, or addictive as opioids so it’s not making front page news like oxycodone. Nevertheless, gabapentin is starting to cause a panic of its own and gain notoriety for being a popular drug of abuse. When it comes to Neurontin, you should be educated about this so-called miracle medication, which is prescribed for conditions other than pain relief. Gabapentin and opioids cause their own unique set of problems when they stand alone – but when you mix the two together…..watch out! The concoction could be deadly.
Mixing Gabapentin and Opioids Could Be A Killer Combination
All the research available tells us that opioids themselves are dangerous. You might be surprised to learn that 1 in every 550 chronic opioid users will die from an overdose within the first three years of being prescribed this type of medication by a doctor. You may also be shocked to know that approximately 33,000 people die from opioid overdoses every year. Taking opioids like hydrocodone, Percocet, or fentanyl without mixing them with anything else is risky. But, when you combine them with gabapentin, you significantly increase the likelihood that you will experience an overdose that will land you in the hospital. Or, scarier still, if you mix Neurontin with opioids, you are running the risk that you will die unexpectedly.
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A recent Canadian-based study revealed that of 1,256 cases of opioid related deaths and 4,619 opioid related overdoses, 12.3 percent of the death cases (155 of 1,256) and 6.8 percent of the overdose cases (313 of 4,619) were prescribed gabapentin in the prior 120 days to the overdose event. The study concluded that there might be a correlation between gabapentin and opioids when it comes to overdose or death.
Why Does Mixing Gabbies With Opioids Increase The Likelihood Of Overdose?
Because of the widespread media coverage we mentioned earlier, the average American knows that opioids are hazardous to your health and that opioids can lead to fatal consequences. But do you know why? The reason many people overdose on opioids is that opioids suppress breathing and cause the user to breathe more slowly and deeply than normal. This can lead to opioid-induced respiratory depression, which – in extreme cases – can cause breathing to stop completely and lead to death. The reason why mixing opioids and gabapentin is so dangerous, according to the study, is because “the use of gabapentin with opioids can increase the amount of opioid absorbed by the body.” This can potentially lead to a higher risk of suppressed breathing. Neurontin, when mixed with opioids, can increase the chances of opioid-induced respiratory depression, which can slow breathing so significantly, it can cause accidental death.
Why People Might Be Mixing Gabapentin And Opioids
There are several reasons why people might be mixing Neurontin with opioids. The first reason someone is that someone is legally prescribed both medications from a doctor. Physicians are prescribing gabapentin for a number of different conditions. Opioids are prescribed primarily for pain. Someone may be taking both medications for legitimate reasons. Information about the dangers of mixing opioids and gabapentin is relatively new. Most doctors are unaware of the risks that come from prescribing both medications to the same person. Others mix these two substances because gabapentin is said to enhance the high opioids create. Because of its calming effect, many people are taking gabapentin recreationally and mixing it with opioids. The effects of Neurontin can produce an intoxicating effect, which can cause someone to feel high or buzzed. When you mix it with opioids, it causes an increased high, which is why many people choose to take the two drugs together. Some people take Gabapentin and opioids and don’t realize they are mixing the two. Law enforcement officials have reported that confiscated street heroin is frequently testing positive for gabapentin. Drug dealers are using Neurontin to cut their product to make the supply go further and amplify the effect of the drug. If you are mixing gabbies and opioids, stop. This is a deadly mix.
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Gabapentin: A So-Called “Cure-All” Medication Is Used To Treat A Variety of Conditions
Gabapentin is a tablet medication that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993 and for the treatment of epilepsy. In 2004, the FDA approved gabapentin for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Since then, it has gotten a reputation as a supposed “cure-all.” In recent years, Neurontin has been prescribed by doctors for what are known as “off-label” uses that have not been approved by the FDA. It is now being called a “miracle cure” by many who swear by the medication for the treatment of a variety medical problems. In addition to its approved uses, gabapentin is also being used to treat chronic and mild to moderate pain, migraines, bipolar, anxiety and panic disorders, clinical depression, drug and alcohol withdrawal, and many other medical conditions. Because doctors are recommending this medication for such a wide variety of ailments, gabapentin prescriptions have spiked. According to GoodRx, Neurontin is now the seventh most frequently prescribed medication in the United States.
How Can One Medication Be Used To Treat So Many Different Medical Conditions?
From everything we have known about medication in the past, one pill treats one condition. You would be skeptical if your doctor told you the same pill could be used to treat diabetes and bipolar disorder, right? Gabapentin is changing the way scientists and medical experts are thinking about modern medicine. This one pill has shown promise for treating many different conditions But, how? Considering Neurontin is the seventh most commonly prescribed medication in the country, it may be hard to believe that chemists are still studying Neurontin and learning how this medication works. However, they do know it has a calming effect on the body–a sedating effect that can benefit people with many different debilitating conditions. Neurontin stabilizes electrical energy in the brain and central nervous system. It affects how the nervous system sends signals to the rest of the body by increasing the production of a neurotransmitter called “GABA,” which acts as a nerve-calming agent. It also reduces the release of glutamate; a nerve-exciting agent that causes electrical signals to build up in the brain. By increasing the calming agent GABA, and reducing the nerve-exciting agent glutamate; Gabapentin stabilizes the over activity of nerves in the brain and helps keep a proper balance of nerve activity in the body. When you think about it, this explains how Neurontin can reduce the number of epileptic seizures, decrease nerve pain, stabilizing mood disorders like bipolar, and lessen drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Every one of these conditions has a relationship to the electrical activity generated by the brain and carried throughout the central nervous system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOd_X0LF4OU
Gabapentin Abuse Is On The Rise–The Drug Is Habit-Forming
One of the reasons why gabapentin has been making the news is because it has become a popular drug of choice for people looking to get high. People who take gabbies say the drug makes them feel slightly intoxicated or that it produces a low-grade buzz like that of marijuana. This is not surprising because Neurontin functions as a calming agent that sedates the body. The buzz gabbies generate is not as powerful as opioids like fentanyl, and the drug is a lot safer than benzodiazepines like Xanax. Gabapentin does not pose the threat of overdose like hardcore painkillers or tranquilizers. Plus, Neurontin is cheap, which is why many drug users opt for this inexpensive drug. One gabapentin sells on the streets for as little as a dollar. For all these reasons, people underestimate the dangers of Neurontin. If you take gabbies for fun or mix them with opioids, you are abusing gabapentin. Although addiction experts report that gabapentin does not contain addictive properties like those found in opioids or benzodiazepines, it is still a potent, habit-forming drug that can cause withdrawal if you stop taking it. Withdrawal, also known as detox, happens when your body has become used to processing a powerful substance, and you take that substance away. It is a very uncomfortable and painful process. Here are some of the withdrawal symptoms you should expect if you stop taking gabapentin:
- Loss of appetite
- Uncontrollable crying
- An increased response to pain
Post-acute withdrawal from gabapentin lasts about two weeks. However, it can take your body up to three months to fully recover if you have been abusing this medication.
Opioids 101–What You Need To Know About These Powerful Painkillers
The discussion so far has focused on gabapentin because we wanted to educate you thoroughly on this medication, but we haven’t mentioned much about opioids. With everything that’s been happening in the news in relationship to opioids, we trust that you are at least somewhat educated on the topic. If not, here’s a crash course on the subject:
- Opioids are derived from the opium poppy plant, grown in tropical climates worldwide.
- There are opiates, and there are opioids. Opiates are natural. Opioids are synthetic. However, opiates and opioids now fall under one umbrella term – opioids.
- Heroin, morphine, and codeine are all considered natural opiates.
- Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl are all considered synthetic opioids.
- Opioids are VERY addictive. If you abuse them, you have a very high risk of becoming dependent.
- When you use opioids for an extended period of time, you will build a tolerance. Tolerance happens when your body gets used to a specific drug and needs more of it to get the same effect.
- If you stop taking opioids, you will go through excruciating withdrawal. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, extreme body aches, and the inability to function as a human being.
- You should not stop taking opioids without medical supervision. You can die from opioid withdrawal.
If you are hooked on opioids, talk to your doctor or an addiction specialist and get help before it’s too late.