If you are considering taking gabapentin or have been prescribed the drug, you might be wondering whether this medication is a controlled substance or not. Is it illegal to carry the drug with you? What happens if you’ve been caught with the drug without a prescription? These are just some of the common questions that gabapentin users usually ask.
Gabapentin, sold under the brand name Neurontin, is a drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy and nerve pain. It is also a popular drug that is being prescribed for a variety of off-label uses including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, restless leg syndrome, alcohol withdrawal, and more. It is also being used as an alternative to opioids as opioids are now much harder to acquire. However, there are also many people who use gabapentin in combination with opioids to escalate the effects.
With the increasing use of gabapentin in the United States, the question of whether this drug has been classified as a controlled substance is also often discussed. So is gabapentin a controlled substance?
The answer to the question of whether gabapentin is a controlled substance is NO. On a federal level, gabapentin has not been classified as a controlled substance, which means it is not illegal to have gabapentin on you. It is not considered by the DEA as an illegal narcotic. However, it is important to note that while the federal government does not consider gabapentin as a controlled substance, there are some states with differing laws on gabapentin use.
As of writing, there are at least five states that have reclassified gabapentin as a controlled substance. There are also some states that are closely monitoring the use of gabapentin and have put the drug through PDMPs or prescription drug monitoring programs.
What this means is that if you reside or you are in a state where gabapentin has been reclassified or is being monitored, there will be different state-imposed restrictions with regards to the prescribing and use of the drug.
Which States Reclassified Gabapentin As A Controlled Substance?
Depending on where you are in the United States, there are certain medications that may or may not be legal to use. A drug may also be considered legal by the federal government but considered illegal on a state level (or vice versa). One good example is marijuana. Marijuana is illegal on a federal level but it is legal for use medically and recreationally in several states including California, New York, and Washington D.C.
In the case of gabapentin, it is the opposite. While gabapentin is NOT considered as a controlled substance on a federal level, there are some states that reclassified the drug as a controlled substance.
The five states that have reclassified gabapentin as a controlled substance are Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, and Tennessee. Since gabapentin is considered a controlled substance in these states, there are certain restrictions that limit the prescribing, dispensing, and use of the drug. This status, therefore, affects how readily the drug is made available to patients.
States that have put gabapentin through prescription drug monitoring programs include Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Wyoming. While gabapentin is not considered a controlled substance in these states, putting the drug through PDMPs is a step towards minimizing the risks of abusing the medication.
Dangers of Gabapentin Abuse
Gabapentin has long been considered to have a low potential for abuse, however, recent studies and reports have shown that abuse of the drug is becoming more and more common. It is being used to heighten the effects of other drugs such as opioids while others use the drug as an opioid substitute.
As gabapentin is not as strong as other opioids, people who get addicted to the drug tend to take very high doses to get similar euphoric effects. This practice can lead to dangerous consequences including drug overdose, organ damage, and drug addiction. Combining the drug with other narcotics also increases the risk of suffering from serious side effects.
It is possible to get addicted to gabapentin especially if you are taking high doses of the drug for a long period. Even if you have a legitimate prescription for gabapentin, taking more than the prescribed dose could lead to increased tolerance and drug dependence.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.