30 Sec Answer: Gabapentin should not be taken without consulting a doctor, as it can interact with other drugs and cause side effects. Additionally, gabapentin can lead to physical or psychological dependence, and people with certain health conditions should avoid taking the drug altogether.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription medication primarily used to treat epilepsy and nerve pain, including those caused by shingles. It works by reducing abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes seizures or pain. The generic name for gabapentin is pregabalin, and the drug is also known by the brand names Neurontin and Gralise.
How Is Gabapentin Used?
Gabapentin is available in both capsule and tablet form, and can be taken orally or applied topically (through injection). It is most commonly used to treat epilepsy, but can also be prescribed to help with postherpetic neuralgia (a type of nerve pain), restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, mania associated with bipolar disorder, as well as hot flashes due to menopause.
Who Should Not Take Gabapentin?
Although gabapentin is generally safe when taken as directed by a doctor, there are some individuals who should avoid taking it. This includes pregnant women and those who have kidney or liver problems. People who have had an allergic reaction to gabapentin or another similar medication should also steer clear of this drug. Furthermore, anyone taking sedatives or blood thinners should consult their doctor before taking gabapentin since these medications can increase the risk of bleeding.
Potential Side Effects of Gabapentin
As with any drug, there are potential side effects associated with gabapentin use. These include dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. Other more serious side effects include difficulty breathing or swallowing; changes in mood or behavior; confusion; swollen glands; chest tightness; increased heart rate; low white blood cell count; easy bruising/bleeding; fever/chills; depression; suicidal thoughts/attempts; loss of coordination; weakness on one side of the body; fainting spells; seizures; loss of appetite; weight gain; stomach pain/cramping; dark urine or yellow skin/eyes. If any of these side effects occur while taking gabapentin seek medical attention immediately.
Interactions With Other Drugs
Gabapentin has been known to interact with many other drugs such as opiates like oxycodone or hydrocodone, muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) and carisoprodol (Soma), sedatives like alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan), sleeping pills like zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta), antipsychotics like clozapine (Clozaril) and quetiapine (Seroquel), antifungals like fluconazole (Diflucan) and itraconazole (Sporanox), antidepressants like citalopram (Celexa) and paroxetine (Paxil), antibiotics such as metronidazole (Flagyl) and clarithromycin (Biaxin), anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital (Luminal) and phenytoin (Dilantin). Before taking gabapentin make sure to tell your doctor about all other medications you are currently taking to avoid interactions which could lead to severe side effects.
Risk Of Addiction And Dependence
Gabapentin has been linked to addiction and dependence in some individuals when taken over long periods of time at high doses. Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body becomes accustomed to the presence of a drug leading to withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use. Psychological dependence occurs when a person develops cravings for a particular substance despite its potential dangers. In order to prevent addiction it is important to take the drug only as prescribed by your doctor and never take more than recommended dose.
Can You Overdose On Gabapentin?
It is possible to overdose on gabapentin though fatalities due to overdoses are rare because the maximum dosage for adults rarely exceeds 600mg per day. However, those who mix gabapentin with other substances such as opioids or alcohol may experience life-threatening complications from an overdose including respiratory depression and coma. Symptoms of an overdose include extreme drowsiness/sedation, slurred speech, confusion, shallow breathing/respiratory depression and death if left untreated. Seek emergency medical attention if you think someone has overdosed on gabapentin.
Can You Take Gabapentin Long Term?
Although most doctors agree that short-term use of gabapentin is safe in adults, long-term use can be potentially dangerous due to its association with tolerance development and abuse potential. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you plan on using the drug for an extended period of time so they can monitor your progress closely and adjust your dose accordingly if needed.
Alternatives To Taking Gabapentin
For those looking for alternatives to taking gabapentin there are several options available including lifestyle modifications such as exercise/yoga/meditation for managing stress levels and improving sleep quality; avoiding triggers that might worsen nerve pain such as smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol in excess; trying complementary therapies such as acupuncture or chiropractic care; engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy which focuses on changing negative thought patterns associated with chronic pain; utilizing cold/hot packs applied directly onto affected areas as needed throughout the day; attempting alternative treatments such as herbal remedies containing natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric/ginger root extract/capsaicin cream etc.; and finally exploring alternative pharmaceutical options like NSAIDs (ibuprofen) or tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline).
In conclusion it’s important for anyone considering taking gabapentin for any condition to consult their doctor first before doing so in order ensure safety against potential risks associated with misuse or improper dosage amounts which can lead to severe side effects including addiction or overdose if not managed properly. There are also plenty of alternative treatments available which may prove equally effective at managing certain conditions without putting one’s health at risk so explore all options before deciding on a course of action!