Gabapentin, also known by its brand name Neurontin, is a prescription medication primarily used for the treatment of epilepsy to control seizures. However, many medical practitioners use gabapentin as a “catch-all” drug, meaning they prescribe the drug for various off-label uses. Some of the off-label conditions where gabapentin is prescribed include anxiety disorders, headaches, pain, alcohol or drug withdrawal, phobia, etc.
The reason why the drug is being prescribed for a variety of conditions is because there is a belief that it is a “safer alternative”. For example, a doctor may prescribe gabapentin for pain instead of prescribing an opioid medication because gabapentin is said to have a lower potential for abuse. Gabapentin is also a popular alternative to benzodiazepines like Xanax or Klonopin for anxiety treatment.
Because gabapentin is cheaper and it is prescribed by many doctors, people think that gabapentin has little or no side effects. This is often why many people abuse the drug and they keep taking gabapentin even after their prescription period.
What many people don’t realize is that taking gabapentin can result in various side effects. Here are some gabapentin side effects that could occur.
1. Abnormal eye movements
People taking gabapentin have reportedly experienced involuntary and continuous eye movements. These are often rolling or back and forth eye movements that users cannot control. If this is something that you have experienced recently, taking gabapentin may be the cause.
Feeling sleepy is a common side effect of many medications. This is also one of the usual side effects experienced by people after taking gabapentin. While it is common, users should be careful especially if they plan to go out of the house or drive a motor vehicle.
3. Light-headedness or dizziness
Just like feeling sleepy, people who take gabapentin may also feel lightheaded or dizzy. This could be dangerous especially if they are driving or operating machinery. It may also cause problems at work or when in a public place.
4. Coordination problems
Loss of body coordination is another side effect of gabapentin. After taking the drug, some people report that they experience balance problems. This loss of coordination is dangerous as it could lead to physical injuries.
While some people may feel dizzy or sleepy after taking gabapentin, there are people who faint after taking the drug. Combining gabapentin with alcohol or other drugs could increase the risk of fainting. If the user had ingested a large amount of gabapentin or is a long-term user, fainting could also be a sign of drug overdose.
6. Nausea / vomiting
After taking gabapentin, some users say that they experience nausea or the feeling that they want to vomit. Vomiting is also another side effect brought about by taking this drug.
7. Constipation/ Diarrhea
Different factors cause irregular bowel movements including constipation and diarrhea. Constipation is a condition wherein a person has a hard time passing stools while diarrhea is considered the opposite with the person having loose, watery stools more than three times a day. While food is often the culprit, medications including gabapentin could also cause these irregularities.
8. Difficulty speaking
This might seem like a strange side effect but there have been gabapentin users who said that they experienced speech difficulties, slurred speech, and trouble forming words while on gabapentin. Dryness of the mouth and throat is another side effect that could contribute to speech difficulties.
9. Sleep Problems
Gabapentin is often prescribed to people who have insomnia or trouble sleeping. However, as drugs have different effects on people, some users report that they develop insomnia after taking gabapentin.
Being easily annoyed or irritated even over minor things is one of the possible side effects of taking this drug.
11. Anxiety and Panic Attacks
While gabapentin is frequently prescribed by doctors as a treatment for anxiety, it has been reported that it might actually cause further anxiety or panic attacks, especially if the person has a preexisting psychiatric disorder.
12. Violent behavior
Violent behavior is a dangerous side effect of taking gabapentin. While this is rare, this is still a possible effect of taking the drug.
Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness or grief. It is different from just being sad because it doesn’t go away even after different coping methods.
14. Psychedelic effects
For people who are taking high doses of gabapentin, the drug can produce mind-altering, psychedelic effects. This is a common side effect for people who are abusing the drug wanting to get high on gabapentin or are taking gabapentin in conjunction with other illicit substances.
15. Sexual Irregularities
Taking gabapentin is associated with sexual dysfunction, including erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction in men. Loss of libido is another sexual side effect that could occur when taking gabapentin.
16. Permanent organ damage
Long-term use of gabapentin can permanently damage your organs including your brain, kidneys, and liver. Long-term gabapentin use has also been linked with muscle weakness, respiratory failure, and loss of memory.
17. Suicidal Behavior
One of the most serious side effects of gabapentin is that it may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a small number of users. Users of gabapentin may develop thoughts about suicide or death, may attempt to commit suicide or may develop aggressive or extreme behavior.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.