If you or anyone around you is struggling with opiate addiction, you are not alone. You are a part of a population that has a shared bond.
The report published by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime shows that there are 26.4 million to 36 million victims of opioids abuse across the globe. Out of this number, 2.1 million cases of opioid abuse are reported in the USA.
Recovering from opiate addiction is difficult because the body becomes habitual to it. It is clear sign of dependence when the body starts showing up unusual symptoms when you stop using regular opiates.
Opiate withdrawal is not easygoing as it may sound. The process without any external help may be more problematic and uncomfortable, but with high-quality care, it is better.
The medicinal advice for opiate withdrawal such as by using Gabapentin is beneficial for passing the phase. It is the first step towards recovery.
The only problem is that many people don’t know about Gabapentin or its usage in opiate withdrawal. This article is a comprehensive guide for all the readers who are planning to start a healthy and opiate free life.
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a drug, which is usually prescribed for pains. It is not just any painkiller. Gabapentin helps to suppress the withdrawal effects mainly caused by opiates.
Dealing with withdrawal effects is difficult, but at the end of it, the addiction completely ends.
The process sometimes doesn’t go smooth and brings undesirable effects. Using a withdrawal easing medicine such as Gabapentin accelerates the process of getting the opiate drug out. It makes all the uncomfortable effects vanish.
Gabapentin is a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) analogue that was created for the treatment of epilepsy, pain relief, and neuropathic pain.
Initially, it was synthesized to be replicating the structure of natural neurotransmitter GABA. It is helpful for stress and related disorders such as social anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Gabapentin is a medicine, which helps in opiate and alcohol withdrawal effects. Usually, opiates are prescribed for the patients of pain.
But opiates aren’t suitable for people with a previous addiction problem. So gabapentin and similar medicines are given during the withdrawal phase to such patients.
Does Gabapentin help for Opiate withdrawal?
Gabapentin is not an unknown name among common medicines. If you ever experience any injury that made you suffer from excruciating pain, Gabapentin is one of the first line treatments that your doctor will prescribe to you.
“The New England Journal of Medicine” published research, which explained morphine, gabapentin and their combination to heal neuropathic pain.
The best analgesia is visible at lower doses. There are minimum side effects. The only discomfort that may show up is dry mouth, constipation or sedation.
It is not uncommon for people to develop an opiate addiction after the pain is relieved. Gabapentin or its generic form called Neurontin is a hot topic of research for its potential benefit in opiate withdrawal.
The journal “Epilepsy Research” has published a paper on mechanistic hypotheses of Gabapentin’s pharmacology.
It says that cellular mechanisms of pharmacological actions of Gabapentin are not precise yet. Many assumptions work.
It may help as an anticonvulsant, antinociceptive, anxiolytic and neuroprotective agent. These properties are verified by the research on animal models.
Why select a medicinal detox for opiates?
It is not necessary to use a medicinal detox for opiates. Some people find it easy to stop using any opiate without any uncomforting effects.
The first-timers and inexperienced users may find themselves in trouble while dealing with withdrawal effects of an opiate. The opiate withdrawal effects have a vast spectrum.
From food cravings to mood swings, it affects everything. You may not even sleep during the phase due to these popping effects and emotional instability.
In this case, a medically assisted detox from opiates is the best thing to try. It makes the withdrawal phase manageable and smooth. As the first option, you can try self-administered medicines such as Gabapentin.
If your symptoms are adverse, instead of using a self-treatment, take help from medical professionals at a rehabilitation center.
What are the effects of Gabapentin on withdrawal symptoms?
One of the common reasons to take opiates is to relieve the pain. Opiates like morphine, methadone, Buprenorphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are helpful for some pain conditions.
The problem with opiates is that they may increase the body’s sensitivity while working for pain relief.
The speed of this process varies from person to person. In this case, when you stop using opiates, the body will feel adverse effects.
Euphoria or the high feeling of opiates is additional to the pain-relieving property, which makes opiates even more addictive.
Gabapentin helps to reduce the pain by slowing the action of pain signals that travel through the nerves when you are in pain.
Researchers from Tuff’s New England Center have studied the effects of Gabapentin on substances, which is a neurotransmitter for pain relief.
The secretions from substance P in the brain send messages to the body along the nerve pathway.
Can anyone use Gabapentin for overcoming withdrawal symptoms?
It is understandable that every human body is different. Even the functioning of brain and response to certain stimuli is sometimes different too.
The effect of Gabapentin’s GABA like behavior is not accurately same on everyone. Somewhat, it affects different people in different ways.
There are four aspects of treating withdrawal with Gabapentin.
One: Some users will experience a high energetic boost and immediate pain relief.
Two: Some users will not feel relief in pain when he isn’t given a high dose of Gabapentin. Small dosage works best on most of the users, but for some people, only a higher dosage works.
Three: Some users will not see any improvement by any means.
Four: Some users will take a longer time to activate the working of Gabapentin, and the effects start to fade soon.
Addiction potential of Gabapentin
The effectiveness of Gabapentin in withdrawal phase is not very clear, but one thing is apparent that it has a positive effect on the body.
The calming effect on brain pathways is one the most desirable benefits during the withdrawal phase.
Sometimes treating one problem initiates the addiction for the curing element. It is how most of the opiate addictions take place.
Gabapentin is helpful against addiction but don’t forget that it is potent to cause addiction in high dosage. The addiction to Gabapentin can be physical or psychological.
The addiction potential of Gabapentin is low. It doesn’t always show up when someone uses Gabapentin to pass the withdrawal chapter.
The doctors recommend alow to the moderate dosage of Gabapentin. It is to reduce the risk of possible dependence.
Scientific evidence on Gabapentin for Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
The usage of gabapentin for opiate withdrawal is not hypothetical. There are individual researches, which prove that Gabapentin helps in opiate withdrawal symptoms.
However, its complete action is not fully explained. Following are a few types of research summarizing essential factors to declare Gabapentin as a potential medicine for withdrawal.
- Opioid withdrawal
Research from “Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology” explains the role of Gabapentin for opiate withdrawal symptoms. The study subjects are 27 patients with opiate addiction.
The patients were put on methadone for three weeks detoxification plan. The patients were divided into two groups to check two different dosages of Gabapentin.
One group was given 900 mg, and the other was given 1600mg daily. The dosage of 1600mg showed better results than 900mg per day.
It reduced the withdrawal symptoms such as coldness, diarrhea, constipation, dysphoria, agitation and muscular pain.
Similarly, another study published in “Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research.”It studied the impact of Gabapentin on Iranian crack (a condensed form of heroin).
The randomized, double-blind clinical trial investigated the effect of Gabapentin on withdrawal signs in patients undergoing inpatient treatment.
The subjects were 60 men, divided into two groups. One was tested group, and other was placebo group.
The test group was given Gabapentin, 45 minutes before bedtime for only one week. They were given 300mg Gabapentin on the first day and then 300 mg/q12h for the next day, 300 mg/q8h for the third day, and 600 mg/q8h in remaining days.
After one week, a physician measured the results through Subjective Opioid Withdrawal Scale (SOWS). The results showed remarkable pain relief in test group from heroin withdrawal.
- Alcohol withdrawal
Research from “American Journal of Psychiatry” explains gabapentin is helpful in alcohol withdrawal effects.
The study subjects were six in number, four men and two women without any significant illness. All of them suffering alcohol blackout previously and two had the history of alcohol withdrawal seizures.
All the subjects were given 400mg Gabapentin thrice a day for three days, twice a day on day four and once a day in remaining days.
It showed remarkable results without any adverse side effects. This study suggests Gabapentin be a potential treatment for alcohol withdrawal.
A study from “Substance Abuse” studies Gabapentin for ethanol withdrawal effects. It suggests that the usage of Gabapentin (which is approved the medicine for adjunctive therapy in partial seizures) has no risk of abuse.
The report of Gabapentin for ethanol withdrawal is based on 49 patients. The outcome turned out positive by treating most of the patients with ethanol withdrawal.
It suggests that Gabapentin works well for mild to moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Gabapentin for Opiate Withdrawal symptoms dosage
The studies mentioned above tell that same amount (400-1500mg per day with a customized plan) of Gabapentin can be helpful for purposeful effects.
Gabapentin for opiate withdrawal is only available through prescription from a doctor. However, Gabapentin supplements are available at health stores, which is a non-medicinal form of it.
These supplements are 100% safe and don’t require a prescription to purchase. Gabapentin supplements can also help in the withdrawal phase, but the effect is lesser than the medicinal form of Gabapentin.
What improvement does Gabapentin make?
The usage of Gabapentin during the opiate withdrawal phase brings the following changes.
- It calms the brain,
- It boosts energy.
- It improves the mood.
- It reduces stress and promotes relaxation.
- It helps to minimize agitation and irritability.
- It regulates sleeping cycle.
- It overcomes unnecessary the food cravings.
Is it safe to use Gabapentin for opiate withdrawal?
The doctors recommend Gabapentin for opiate withdrawal. Once it starts working, these pain signals become reduced; the user feels the minimum intensity of pain.
The customized dosage plan of Gabapentin is the key towards a successful withdrawal treatment.
The risk of side effects shows up when you use Gabapentin in extreme high dosage for the recreational purpose for a long time. There are no side effects if you are using the right dosage in the right way.