Neurontin (Gabapentin) : A Drug of Abuse
Neurontin, the brand name for the medication gabapentin, is most commonly used to treat epilepsy, restless leg syndrome, hot flashes, and neuropathic pain.
It’s a fairly new drug, having been first introduced in 1993, and the generic version was introduced in 2004. As such, its uses, mechanism of action, and negative effects are still being studied.
Gabapentin appears to be involved with the GABA neurotransmitter, but does not seem to affect the receptors manipulated by common drugs of abuse such as opioids and benzodiazepines. Due to this, it’s not commonly thought of as a drug of abuse and is not on the list of controlled substances in the United States. However, it has properties that are similar to many commonly abused intoxicants and has been known to produce withdrawal symptoms and psychoactive effects.
This medication essentially functions as a mild tranquilizer, producing a euphoric high in some users that’s similar to the high produced by cannabis. It also typically creates feelings of calm and increased sociability. Its street names include morontin and gabbies, and it is most commonly used by polydrug users who mix it with other substances in order to increase the effects of the gabapentin or other intoxicant. They also may be misused by those attempting to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal from substances like alcohol.
The likelihood of Neurontin or gabapentin abuse to occur is considered low due to its low addictive potential. It does however produce withdrawal symptoms, which is an important aspect of physical addiction. The high produced by the drug could also create a psychological dependence, like any intoxicant. Treatment for addiction to gabapentin will likely be a more complex process than treating addiction to other substances due to the fact that the individual will likely be addicted to other intoxicants at the same time. However, like with any drug, recovery from addiction is always possible.