When you begin taking a new medicine, like gabapentin, there are extra things to be careful about that can impact you in various ways. Gabapentin is a medication prescribed for nerve pain caused by seizures or shingles.
At the moment, gabapentin isn’t considered a controlled substance, but it’s being misused by some people, especially when they combine it with opioids or alcohol, either by accident or on purpose. This can be harmful.
What is Gabapentin
Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, is a medicine used to treat conditions like shingles, nerve pain, restless leg syndrome, and seizures caused by epilepsy. It also helps control a calming chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
People with nerve pain can benefit from gabapentin when used as prescribed. Balancing GABA production can reduce or even get rid of common nerve pain symptoms.
But some folks use gabapentin in ways they shouldn’t, which can be risky and lead to addiction, especially when mixed with alcohol or other substances.
Gabapentin’s Side Effects
Gabapentin can make people feel different in various ways, and some of these changes can be side effects. Some side effects are more common, while others are not so common but can still happen. Sometimes, people may not realize that these effects are from taking gabapentin.
Here are some of the side effects:
- Feeling very tired
- Shaking or trembling
- Feeling like you might faint or feel dizzy
- Acting more aggressive
- Not being able to move your body well
- Feeling sad or low
- Having thoughts about hurting yourself
If you experience any of these things while taking gabapentin, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Depending on your needs and health plan, gabapentin might not be the best medicine for you. Your doctor might switch you to another medicine that has a similar effect.
Common Gabapentin Side Effects
These are some side effects that people might experience when taking gabapentin:
- Feeling cold
- Upset stomach with diarrhea or vomiting
- Feeling dizzy
- Blurry vision
- Weird things happening with your eyes.
Serious Gabapentin Side Effects
In more serious situations, someone taking gabapentin might have these bad side effects:
- Hives or a rash on the skin
- Yellow eyes or skin
- Feeling very dizzy
- Being very weak
- Swelling in the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Trouble breathing
When people use gabapentin along with alcohol, they might experience extra side effects. It’s important to tell the doctor if this is happening so they can find the best solution. If someone has any of the symptoms mentioned above, they should get medical help right away.
Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol
A study from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) discovered that it’s not safe to mix medicines and alcohol. There are two big reasons why doctors tell patients not to drink alcohol when they’re taking other medications.
Alcohol can make some medicines not work well because it messes up how the body uses them.
Alcohol can make the levels of certain medicines in the blood go too high and become harmful.
Research also shows that when you take prescription drugs and drink alcohol together, the side effects can get worse. Sometimes, they might even create new problems that are hard to predict.
Gabapentin and drinking alcohol can both affect your body and mind at the same time, and when you use them together, it can make their side effects much worse.
Mixing gabapentin and alcohol can make the bad side effects even more serious. This is because these substances are already harmful on their own, and when you combine them, it’s even riskier.
Here are some common side effects that people might have if they use gabapentin and alcohol together:
- Feeling like you need to throw up or actually vomiting
- Slower reactions with your eyes and speech
- Feeling dizzy, tired, or sleepy
- Having trouble breathing
- Feeling more sad and down
- Changes in your mood and behavior
- Being less aware and alert
- Problems with your body working well
- Having thoughts about hurting yourself.
When people start taking gabapentin, the side effects are usually not too strong, and there’s usually no need to worry. However, if you use any amount of alcohol along with gabapentin, it can quickly make things risky.
Although it’s not common, mixing gabapentin and alcohol can even lead to death. Both of these things slow down how you breathe. If you take a lot of them together, it can be really harmful.
Gabapentin and alcohol can seriously change your mood, the way you act, and what you think about. People who use both of them might start behaving strangely and making bad choices that could lead to harm or even death.
Can You Drink Alcohol Safely with Anticonvulsant Medicines (Like Gabapentin)
Sadly, the answer is no. The National Center for Biotechnology Information says it’s not safe to mix alcohol with anticonvulsant medicines. Another anticonvulsant called Lyrica (pregabalin), which is also used to control seizures, should also not be combined with alcohol.
There are other medicines like gabapentin, such as:
- Valium (Benzodiazepines)
- Depakote (divalproex sodium)
- Dilantin (phenytoin)
- Keppra (levetiracetam)
- Lamictal (lamotrigine)
- Tegretol (carbamazepine)
- Topamax (topiramate)
- Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
People who are prescribed these anticonvulsant medicines should not drink alcohol while taking them. It’s important to talk to a qualified medical professional before using alcohol or other supplements along with anticonvulsants. Doing this without guidance can lead to serious complications that are very dangerous.
Doctors can assist you in finding the best medicine for your needs. If you can’t quit drinking alcohol or have an alcohol problem, there are treatments to help. It’s crucial not to mix gabapentin and alcohol on purpose for misuse.Read More: Risks of Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol
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