You have probably heard that mixing prescription medication with alcohol can cause serious, unwanted side effects. It is true that not every medication will cause severe side effects when combined with alcohol, but it is good practice to keep medication and alcohol use separate. Many medications can have serious interactions with alcohol. Some medications, including gabapentin, can cause you to feel light-headed, lose balance, or feel dizzy. Similarly, alcohol can impair your motor abilities and make you sleepy or drowsy.
When alcohol is mixed with medication that also impairs motor abilities, the drowsiness or impaired ability can result in more severe side effects. Gabapentin is used to treat epileptic seizures, postherpetic neuralgia, nerve pain that occurs due to shingles, restless leg syndrome, and withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependency. The medication is useful in many situations, but as we will explain later, it can be addictive. The use of gabapentin and the quitting of the medication should always be medically supervised to ensure a patient’s safety.
What is Gabapentin and What Are the Side Effects?
Gabapentin is the generic name of a prescription medication that is an anticonvulsant. The drug is also known by its brand name of Neurontin. Generic drugs typically cost less than their brand-name counterparts. There may be some differences in the form, and the dosage strengths that are available depending on whether the generic or brand-name prescription is ordered. Gabapentin is used to treat seizures in adults and children, along with nerve pain caused by the shingles virus. It can also be used to treat alcohol addiction.
Gabapentin Can Cause Side Effects
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Lack of physical coordination
- Uncontrolled and unusual eye movements
- Increased hostile behavior
- Bodily tremors or shaking
- Suicidal thoughts or depression
If you have experienced any of these side effects, talk with your doctor about your experience. Your doctor can offer more information and may reconsider the risks of taking the drug with its benefits, depending on your specific needs and healthcare plan. Remaining open with your medical provider about side effects or questions you might have can help you remain organized and informed about every step of your medical care.
What Happens When Taking Gabapentin and Drinking Alcohol Mix?
Alcohol consumption should be avoided when taking gabapentin. When these two substances mix, the result is a more severe form of drowsiness and lack of alertness in the individual. Mixing these two drugs could indicate that you need alcohol addiction treatment.
Alcohol is a depressant. This doesn’t mean that it makes a person feel depressed or develop a major depressive disorder. A depressant is any substance that depresses neuroactivity in the brain. This doesn’t mean you feel depressed or lethargic. It means different areas in your brain are being depressed so that they don’t work as well or at all, like when you have a blackout and no memory of the night before.
Dangers of Taking Prescription Medication and Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol is one of the most well-known and common depressants. Depressants can affect the central nervous system, slowing down the communication between the brain and the body. This is why, upon consuming alcohol, an individual might feel more relaxed and less constricted. Individuals who have consumed greater quantities of alcohol can also experience slowed reactions and clumsier movements, making bodily coordination difficult.
Gabapentin is a medication that targets the body’s central nervous system to fulfill its duty as an anticonvulsant. While the focus on the central nervous system helps patients better control seizures, it also affects motor skills. The body’s nervous system has three main functions: sensory, integration, and motor. Motor skills are particularly affected by gabapentin. This is why individuals taking gabapentin can experience increased clumsiness, lack of coordination, dizziness, and difficulty balancing.
When a depressant and a medication that affects the nervous system are mixed, the intensity of side effects like slower reactions, clumsiness, dizziness, and difficulties in driving and operating other machinery is increased. The consequences of these severe side effects could potentially put a patient in a dangerous situation. To avoid becoming excessively drowsy and reaching a critical point of physical incoordination, patients should avoid combining alcohol with gabapentin.
Gabapentin Addiction: The Road to Recovery
Gabapentin works by blocking certain signals in the brain. By blocking these signals, gabapentin can calm the signals that prompt anxiety, pain, and agitation, all common withdrawal symptoms. These are common withdrawal symptoms and gabapentin can be prescribed to make withdrawal more comfortable and manageable for the patient. However, gabapentin, although it’s used to manage withdrawal symptoms, can also be addictive. If this medication is used frequently, an individual can become dependent on it.
Once the body has consumed gabapentin in frequent intervals over a certain period of time, the body becomes accustomed to receiving that drug. Without the drug, the body will exhibit withdrawal symptoms from the loss of that medication in the system.
In some people, gabapentin causes feelings of euphoria and entices some individuals to continue using the medication in illicit doses to experience that feeling of “high.” Continued usage in higher doses can lead to addiction and put an individual at risk of overdose.
Because of its addictive nature, quitting gabapentin should not be done cold turkey. The process of weaning the dose should be medically supervised in order to ensure the patient’s safety throughout the process. Medical supervision will also allow a doctor to monitor withdrawal symptoms and make sure a patient is correctly and safely handling the process.
Seek Addiction Treatment Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with improper or worrisome gabapentin or alcohol use, we’re here to provide assistance through information and treatment. We want to help you live out your best future. Get the help you need today by calling us today at 850.374.5331.