Gabapentin Boosts High For Opioid Abusers — Pain News Network – July 06, 2017/ Pat Anson – from Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News
Last December, Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy began reporting sales of gabapentin prescriptions in its regular monitoring of controlled substances. The drug, which is not an opioid nor designated a controlled substance by federal authorities, is used to treat nerve pain.
Gabapentin’s ability to tackle multiple ailments has helped make it one of the most popular medications in the U.S. In May, it was the fifth-most prescribed drug in the nation, according to GoodRx.
So it sounds like this is a very useful and beneficial drug. Why is its use, even in large quantities, then a problem?
But the board found that it was the most prescribed medication on its list that month, surpassing oxycodone by more than 9 million doses. In February, the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network issued an alert regarding increasing misuse across the state.
Gabapentin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat epilepsy and pain related to nerve damage, called neuropathy. Also known by its brand name, Neurontin, the drug acts as a sedative.
It is widely considered non-addictive and touted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an alternative intervention to opiates for chronic pain.
Generally, doctors prescribe no more than 1,800 to 2,400 milligrams of gabapentin per day, according to information on the Mayo Clinic’s website.
Gabapentin does not carry the same risk of lethal overdoses as opioids, but drug experts say the effects of using gabapentin for long periods of time or in very high quantities, particularly among sensitive populations like pregnant women, are not well-known.
The safety testing for the FDA involves a fairly small number of patients and doses, so what happens when a drug is brought to market and used in large quantities by large numbers of people is unknown.
Sometimes, the “side effects” can even affect subsequent generations as with DES, the drug given to pregnant women that caused cancer in their children.
This is why newer drugs scare me, and I prefer to use old-fashioned opioids which have been “tested” in real life for thousands of years.
As providers dole out the drug in mass quantities for conditions such as restless legs syndrome and alcoholism, it is being subverted to a drug of abuse.
The reason that doctors are prescribing so much of it is that gabapentoids are recommended by the CDC instead of opioids for pain.
When doctors are not allowed to prescribe the most effective drug for pain (opioids), they have to find other ways to help their patients.
When the most effective drug for pain (opioids) is no longer an option, conscientious doctors want to find other ways to help their patients.
Without opioids, patients with high levels of pain are desperate, so doctors prescribe what they can. And because gabapentin isn’t very strong, it makes sense that doses would have to be very high.
In my personal experience, gabapentin is about 10% effective. It relieves only a little pain compared to opioids, which I find about 80% effective.
The CDC recommends non-opioid medications like these anti-epileptic drugs and also various antidepressant drugs, so it’s logical to expect increases in the prescribing of these drugs now that opioids are forbidden.
Gabapentin can enhance the euphoria caused by an opioid and stave off drug withdrawals. In addition, it can bypass the blocking effects of medications used for addiction treatment, enabling patients to get high while in recovery.
Again, there’s an assumption that opioids (and gabapentin) work the same in patients with and without pain. I strongly disagree: Opioids taken for pain do not provide a “high”.
I started taking gabapentin, hoping I could then reduce my opioid dosage, but I never felt anything at all from it except a very slight easing of pain. I suspect this is true of other pain patients as well.
A literature review published in 2016 in the journal Addiction found about a fifth of those who abuse opiates misuse gabapentin. A separate 2015 study of adults in Appalachian Kentucky who abused opiates found 15 percent of participants also misused gabapentin in the past six months “to get high.”
In the same year, the drug was involved in 109 overdose deaths in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported
“Gabapentin is so readily available,” she said. “That, in my opinion, is where a lot of that danger is. It’s available to be abused.”
Yet, according to Chuck Haegele, field supervisor for the Major Crimes Unit at the Athens City Police Department, law enforcement can do little to stop its spread.
Doesn’t anyone question why law enforcement should “do something” to stop the spread of a non-addictive prescribed medication recommended by the CDC?
That’s because gabapentin is not categorized as a controlled substance. That designation places restrictions on who can possess and dispense the drug.
Nearly anyone arrested and found to struggle with addiction in Athens is given the option to go through a drug court program to get treatment. But officials said that some exploit the absence of routine exams for gabapentin to get high while testing clean.
Screenings are not regularly done on every client because abuse has not been a concern and the testing adds expense, he said.
Holley said she sees clients who are prescribed gabapentin but, due to health privacy laws, she can’t share their status as a person in recovery to an outside provider without written consent.
The restrictions give clients in recovery an opportunity to get high using drugs they legally obtained and still pass a drug test.
“With the gabapentin, I wish there were more we could do, but our hands are tied,” she said. “We can’t do anything but educate the client and discourage” them from using such medications.
God forbid someone has a bit of good feeling from their prescribed medication!
The Puritan pleasure-police are out to stop any good feelings that come about without hard work or effort and suffering. They believe you should have to “pay” for good feelings, so taking drugs to feel good is “cheating” in their eyes.
Original article: Gabapentin Boosts High For Opioid Abusers