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What Happens if You Mix Gabapentin & Alcohol?

Mixing gabapentin and alcohol.

Combining prescription medications with other substances is often a recipe for disaster. But is this always the case? For example, what happens if you mix gabapentin and alcohol?

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is the generic name of a medication that is commonly prescribed to treat people who have been experiencing seizures, restless leg syndrome, or postherpetic neuralgia (pain that persists after a person has shingles). This drug, which is classified as an anticonvulsant, is marketed in the United States under several brand names, including Neurontin, Horizant, Gabarone, and Fanatrex. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pharmacists dispensed more than 69 million gabapentin prescriptions in 2019. Only six medications were prescribed more often than gabapentin that year. As is the case with virtually every type of prescription medication, gabapentin use may cause a variety of side effects. Common side effects of gabapentin include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Impaired coordination
  • Double vision
  • Tremors

Some people who take gabapentin experience more dangerous side effects, such as the following:

  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Respiratory problems
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Jaundice
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Rash or hives
  • Blistered or peeling skin
  • Memory loss

Though most people who take gabapentin do not develop these potentially more damaging side effects, that does not mean that it is a harmless medication. And when someone uses this drug improperly, such as by combining gabapentin and alcohol, the likelihood of negative outcomes can increase considerably.

What Happens if You Mix Gabapentin and Alcohol?

Using gabapentin and alcohol at the same time may impact the effects of both substances. Common effects of combining gabapentin and alcohol are extreme drowsiness, severe dizziness, and significantly impaired coordination. The combined impact of gabapentin and alcohol can also include confusion and disorientation. 

If a person has gabapentin and alcohol in their system at the same time, they may be more likely to be injured due to slips or falls. If they attempt to drive a car after consuming gabapentin and alcohol, they may put their lives at risk while also jeopardizing the lives of their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. Also, if someone develops one or more of the severe side effects that we listed in the previous section, their alcohol use may delay or otherwise complicate their efforts to get medical attention.

Using medications or other drugs in ways that are clearly dangerous, such as mixing gabapentin and alcohol, can be a sign of addiction. Anyone who has become addicted to gabapentin, alcohol, or any other substance needs professional care. Addiction is a treatable condition – but it is also a chronic, progressive disease. This means that if a person fails to get the help they need, their struggles are likely to only get worse over time. 

Addiction Treatment Options in Atlanta, GA

Gabapentin and alcohol are both addictive substances. The risk of becoming addicted to gabapentin is lower than some other medications – such as opioid-based prescription painkillers – but abusing this drug can lead to both overdose and addiction. For people who struggle with prescription painkiller addiction and alcohol use disorder (alcoholism), the path to successful recovery often begins with outpatient treatment. Peachtree Recovery Solutions offers two levels of outpatient care:

  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)

Some people receive care at both of these outpatient levels. They begin at the PHP level, which features full days of care. After completing our PHP, they step down to our IOP for additional support. IOPs typically offer partial days of treatment a few days each week. This continues the patients’ connection with structured clinical care, but it also provides them with additional opportunities to work, attend school, or otherwise participate in a healthy independent lifestyle.

Other people enter and exit treatment at either the PHP or IOP level. There is no single perfect path to achieve recovery from prescription drug addiction or alcoholism. What’s most important is finding the treatment options that best align with each person’s specific needs.

Depending on which level of care a person participates in, they may take part in treatment options such as the following:

  • Holistic therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Trauma therapy
  • Red light therapy 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

These therapies can help people identify the underlying causes of their struggles with addiction, then develop strategies for responding to these influences in a healthier manner, without resorting to substance abuse. Here are a few examples of the many benefits of individual, group, and family therapy:

  • Individual therapy consists of one-on-one conversations with a trained professional. Individual sessions can be the perfect place to discuss personal matters and address topics that people may be hesitant to bring up in a group or family setting. 
  • During group therapy sessions, people can practice their new relapse-prevention skills, learn from the insights and experiences of others, and discover the power of sharing support with other members of the recovery community. 
  • Family therapy sessions are supportive forums where loved ones can process their experiences and learn how to better support each other. 

Begin Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Atlanta, GA

If you or someone that you care about has become addicted to gabapentin, alcohol, or any other drug, Peachtree Recovery Solutions can help. At our treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, skilled professionals provide quality clinical care and compassionate support to help people recover from prescription drug addiction, alcoholism, and other substance use disorders. With our help, you or your loved one can live a healthier and more hopeful life. Give us a call or visit our admissions page today to learn more.