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ATHENS, Ohio — On April 5, Ciera Smith sat in a car parked on the gravel driveway of the Rural Women’s Recovery Program here with a choice to make: go to jail or enter treatment for her addiction.

Smith, 22, started abusing drugs when she was 18, enticed by the “good time” she and her friends found in smoking marijuana. She later turned to addictive painkillers, then anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and eventually Suboxone, a narcotic often used to replace opioids when treating addiction.

Before stepping out of the car, she decided she needed one more high before treatment. She reached into her purse and then swallowed a handful of gabapentin pills.

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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. 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.

And it’s not just in Ohio. 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.

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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.

Athens, home to Ohio University, lies in the southeastern corner of the state, which has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic. Despite experience in combating illicit drug use, law enforcement officials and drug counselors say the addition of gabapentin adds a new obstacle. 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. 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.

“I don’t know if we have a clear picture of the risk,” said Joe Gay, executive director of Health Recovery Services, a network of substance abuse recovery centers headquartered in Athens.

Gabacount
Rachel Quivey works as a pharmacist for a branch of Fruth Pharmacy, located in a strip mall beside a Dollar General in Athens, Ohio. She noticed clients were misusing gabapentin when they began picking up prescriptions early. Carmen Heredia Rodriguez/KHN

‘Available To Be Abused’

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.

Rachel Quivey, an Athens pharmacist, said she noticed signs of gabapentin misuse half a decade ago when patients began picking up the drug several days before their prescription ran out.

“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.”

In May, Quivey’s pharmacy filled roughly 33 prescriptions of gabapentin per week, dispensing 90 to 120 pills for each client. For customers who arrive with scripts demanding a high dosage of the drug, Quivey sometimes calls the doctor to discuss her concerns. But many of them aren’t aware of gabapentin misuse, she said.

Even as gabapentin gets restocked regularly on Quivey’s shelves, the drug’s presence is increasing on the streets of Athens. A 300-milligram pill sells for as little as 75 cents. 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. That’s because gabapentin is not categorized as a controlled substance. That designation places restrictions on who can possess and dispense the drug.

“There’s really not much we can do at this point,” he said. “If it’s not controlled … it’s not illegal for somebody that’s not prescribed it to possess it.”

Haegele said he heard about the drug less than three months ago when an officer accidentally received a text message from someone offering to sell it. The police force, he said, is still trying to assess the threat of gabapentin.

Gabacount
Quivey’s staff takes a photograph of every gabapentin prescription they dispense to keep a record of the number of pills they distribute to each client. They must report every gabapentin prescription they fill to the state drug-monitoring program. Carmen Heredia Rodriguez/KHN

Little Testing

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.

Brice Johnson, a probation officer at Athens County Municipal Court, said participants in the municipal court’s Substance Abuse Mentally Ill Program undergo gabapentin testing only when abuse is suspected. Screenings are not regularly done on every client because abuse has not been a concern and the testing adds expense, he said.

The rehab program run through the county prosecutor’s office, called Fresh Start, does test for gabapentin. Its latest round of screenings detected the drug in five of its roughly 238 active participants, prosecutor Keller Blackburn said.

Linda Holley, a clinical supervisor at an Athens outpatient program run by the Health Recovery Services, said she suspects at least half of her clients on Suboxone treatment abuse gabapentin. But the center can’t afford to regularly test every participant. 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.

Smith visited two separate doctors to secure a prescription. As she rotated through drug court, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, jail for relapsing on cocaine and house arrest enforced with an ankle bracelet, she said her gabapentin abuse wasn’t detected until she arrived at the residential recovery center.

Today, Smith sticks to the recovery process. Expecting a baby in early July, her successful completion of the program not only means sobriety but the opportunity to restore custody of her eldest daughter and raise her children.

She intends to relocate her family away from friends and routines that helped lead her to addiction and said she will help guide her daughter away from making similar mistakes.

“All I can do is be there and give her the knowledge that I can about addiction,” Smith said, “and hope that she chooses to go on the right path.”

  • Making abused drugs controlled/illegal doesn’t do anything to lessen the addiction epidemic. It doesn’t get it off the streets. The drugs themselves aren’t the cause! It’s a lack of good healthcare approaches to addiction, and a lack of education about the dangers.

    The only thing that comes of the public panicking about a new drug on the streets and subsequently vilifying it as “dangerous” does, is make it harder for sick people to get the medications they need, as that view influences our doctors. All of these drugs being abused, they were made and approved for a reason: to make it easier for the ill and disabled to lead functional lives. Why should they be punished for others’ misuse, for doctors’ mis-prescribing it or their lack of patient communication?

    Gabapentin isn’t addictive. You can’t really overdose on it as far as I know. It’s not hurting these people. In fact, if they’re taking it, then that means less abuse of the dangerous drugs, which could help in weaning them off of needing a high. Who cares if it causes a bit of euphoria for some people?

    The only possible harms I can think of are the same ones for weed, so DUI or being too high during the day to do your job properly. Alcohol does the same and is WAY more dangerous (kills people all the time), and it’s everywhere. Weed is being made legal in many states, because people are realizing that a high without real health risks doesn’t hurt anyone. And what people do in their free time is none of anyone else’s business. I think a big component is honestly just that it has a scary-sounding-chemistry drug name that reminds them of other drugs that have also been successfully vilified. Plus, people hear “high” and think it’s automatically bad.

    I take gabapentin myself, for chronic nerve pain associated with POTS. Yeah, it makes me kinda loopy, but I really wouldn’t call the high a euphoric one. It’s more floaty and just makes parts of my brain fuzzy. Yet it somehow helps with my normal brain fog, in addition to my pain, enabling me to actually access my executive function and get things done. It’s made such a huge difference, and I don’t even take it the three times a day my doctor said I could. Unless I’m having pain flare-ups, I only take it in the evening or before bed to help me sleep more deeply (which it also does! it’s amazing). I have never been remotely tempted to increase my dose or take it when I didn’t need it.

    If it’s prescribed so much, then it’s because of all the things it helps treat! And you have to remember that it’s sick people going in to see doctors to get prescriptions. So that percentage isn’t a reflection on the entire population, plus people with chronic illness have to take it regularly, which means constantly getting the Rx filled. Hence chronic. That’s of course going to bump up that number.

    Just, ugh, please stop going after medications we NEED. We have enough BS to deal with as it is. Maybe tackle addiction at the root instead of trying to slap on a bandaid in the wrong place.

    • The real reason they are now prescribing Gabapentin isnt because it works, it’s for the same reason they give antibiotics to people with the flu: give them something to make them think it’s actually going to help, and they’ll be happy. But, antibiotics doesnt do anything, and it’s not harmful. Gabapentin makes you drowsy, and when a lot of people feel that, they associate the feeling with the thought that it’s working. With some people, it helps them to “think” the pain away. It’s a placebo effect. With some, it’s enough so they dont ask for real pain killers. Does Gabapentin not work at all? I dont know. For some maybe. For me and many, many others, no. All it does is knock me out so I can sleep through the pain. I’m a contractor, so I need to have my witts about me. Gabapentin makes me lazy, and all I wanna do is sleep. Not good when I’m using a power saw

    • Kelsey: Finally, someone who gets it! My doctor has no problem filling my Rxs for nerve pain as well. Having proper rest is so important. I do notice if I forget to take it one evening though, and my legs and feet won’t settle. I don’t think I could just stop and she suggested I could work with her if I wanted to. 600mg is a pretty low dose.

  • The problem with restricting its use those people who really need it can’t get it it’s not fair

  • Getting high from Gabapentin? I call bullshit. I’ve been on it, and all it does is make me drowsy and lazy. And the whole time, my back, neck and leg are in pain. I have a blown disk at L5-S1 which is pinching my sciatic nerve. Also have pinched nerves in my neck, and my T12 vertebra is deteriorating. The sciatic nerve is causing my left calf muscle to seize when I point my foot the wrong direction. The muscle also twitches and jumps almost all day and night. I even take flexeril. But it doesnt help. At this point I WISH I got that euphoric high. But, no dice.

    • MARK: thank you for your contribution. I agree with you that getting high on Gabapentin is mistaken for those who combine drugs. I take 600mg a couple of hours before bedtime. No more; no less. And it only makes me feel extremely drowsy – which was my doctor’s theory. It calms the restlessness of nerve damage in my feet (non-diabetic) that normally would be like restless leg syndrome. NEVER would I suspect a high…and I get what you mean when you wish it would. It just makes sense for painkillers to give a sensation of “high” or, a genuine feeling of euphoria to release the symptoms of pain. Relief is what we want, NEED, to keep sane. Not sleeping is detrimental to our health, communication and aging process. I get why pain can be unmanageable as my partner of ten years suffered from severe back pain and sciatica. Even after MRIs, it was his doctors denying his pain relief even with proof of spinal deterioration and he was deathly afraid of surgery. They prescribed Gabapentin and he still walked the floors through the night. Exhaustion was the only release for sleep.
      He died tragically, recently. Offers of “street” opiates was too convenient, and that, inevitably, led him to opioid russian-roulette (my term) because he felt no recourse. I lived fearful of losing him but his doctor just shrugged his shoulders when my partner discussed his intentions. I’d heard about the dangers lurking. Little did I know, his time was up.

  • We are rapidly approaching a system where nobody can get needed care because of addiction. I am in desperate need of benzos for my anxiety, but nobody will prescribe them. After working with a doctor for 4 months, trying this and that, today he “relents” and prescribes gabapentin. Doesn’t work worth a shit for me. But ya’ll go ahead along and keep taking away drugs that WORK for people who need them, see what you get. We’ll all be heroin addicts. That’d be cheaper than this shit anyway.

    • Ahh, please don’t relent to heroin. Are you taking other drugs? With the legalization of “medical” marijuana (CBD) …ho-hum… which is believed to help with anxiety, I haven’t gone that “medical” route. (Here in Ontario Canada, now that all is legalized, I deplore the pharmaceuticals getting in the mix. They are not concerned about quality, (could even be a placebo for all we know) it’s quantity of $$ they’ll receive for all those jumping on the wagon) But I do have a THC/CBD (LondonDonovan) rechargeable pen, equal 40% amounts. A few inhalations and anxiety is curbed, nerves settle, and I’m able to stay focused, happier, and sleep well. And it is referred to as recreational for clarification.
      For eons, I am taking small doses of propanol + clonazepam at a very, very small dosage to calm a hand tremor which is believed to result in my anxiety. Or, vice-versa. But I would like to get off those poisons and stick to nature’s plant.
      It is so sad but you are correct; the opiod crisis escalating (I believe) became overwhelming with patients skipping their doctor, and getting what they need from whomever. Doctors say they’re “afraid of getting you hooked” … seriously? I’ve never resorted to opioids ever, even after major surgeries. A seven day supply won’t be a problem? Huh! It’s just the beginning! That euphoria? I hear is enough to get anyone to lie about the pain and need some more. Already addicted. And then the doctors get nervous because, those THEY put the patients on opioids who have documented, chronic pain and wham! they stop providing. Lately, they want Gabapentin to replace their Rx’s. (I’m not diabetic, but have nerve damage and that’s what they suggested) So, for too many, the health and quality of life is down for the count. I’m never going to get over the loss of the person who meant the world to me. He was in the family”s acrobatic performance shows starting at a young age. The x-rays show (I mean, showed:( deteriorating vertebra, that also started restless legs, sciatica. His doctor wouldn’t allow a few extra for the very bad days, even when (patient) said he could pretty well go to any street corner and get some!,,, he shrugged his shoulders. So he went to the street corners. And, six months later – yeah, eventually a dose with fentanyl in the opiate. We didn’t live together and I found his cold body, 2018, after stopping by his home for our daily coffee. I’ll never get that visual out of my mind, me shaking so badly, in shock. Begging him to wake up. Inadvertently, I suffered. I miss him so much. Don’t do this to anybody.
      He was 66.

    • Anon I am in the same boat. My klonopin that helps with seizures, sleep and anxiety was cut to nearly nothing. Doctors dont give a damn. I think some of them just want us to suffer.

  • I was prescribed Gabapentin, as the doctor thought it would help my IBS symptoms, and have been taking 100 mg. twice a day since last October. It does help, but not significantly, and now I’m worried about coming off it – what side effects would I expect?

  • I fully agree with you, Dee. Why I kept reading on?…it was like a crash that we can’t turn away from looking at for some sense of “WHY?” Addiction is a complicated reality and I do think severe abusers start with a high, but continue the game of RussianRoulette with whatever could be a better high.
    And, knowing of deceased addicts, there was one request: One.Final.High.

  • I am prescribed 3600mg of Gabapentin a day. I nearly lost half of my right hand in October 2016. Since being on the medication, I am no longer using heroin, meth or any other drug. I went through one of the country’s hardest drug court program. While gaba can be abused and it is, I see it as a true wonder-drug and has not only in my opinion helped me stay clean but it’s also kept me pain free. I also hear it was used to treat anxiety and depression when it first came out. I am a firm believer in the proper use of Gabapentin and will continue to take it for as long as I need it.

  • Okay, sorry…it just posted my comment before I was done writing.. But the short version is the random drug screens stopped me from using any chemicals that would show up on a standard 12 panel drug screens so that left gabapentin….and flexeril (a muscle relaxer). Some days when I was really desperate to get high, I would easily take 18,000 mg daily- but eventually, no matter how much you take- you’ll never reach a good euphoric effect once you develop a tolerance….then you can stop taking it for a month or two, and then reintroduce gabapentin to your system and boom….you get high again. The tolerance develops very quickly but also disappears quickly. Although I have abused Gabapentin (I would abuse tylenol if I could) Overall, gabapentin has helped me numerous times in the past- its great for nerve pain, depression, and anxiety. BUT, there are truly people out there that are totally dependent on this medication to survive. You shouldn’t just put a stop on this medication because it has a potential to be abused. My mother suffers with severe degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, severe bone spurring throughout her entire spine- she suffers with ringing, numbness, intense nerve pain…and this medication helps. She is prescribed 300 mg four times daily. Her doctor recently tried to increase the dose, but once the higher dose was administered, she had complaints of feeling “funny”, and developed a”drunk” type behavior. Her dose was then decreased immediately. So for the people that commented and said you cannot get high on gabapentin, that is totally false. I am a professional at getting high and being numb to the world around me- for example, I am in bed by 10 pm every night like clockwork. After taking 2100 mg, it is currently 4:33 am and I am in the kitchen dancing and eating ice cream out of the carton. I feel amazing- I am numb, fuzzy, a bit dizzy, blurry vision, irrational thoughts- I also experience INTENSE dreams and colors when I finally go to sleep. I abused JUST gabapentin for years and claimed to be “sober and clean” because I was not currently sticking a needle in my arm. Everyone is different. Some people may not be able to feel euphoric from gabapentin no matter the dosage but I would say a good percent of people just do not take enough to feel any high side effects, taking 300 mg a few times a day is a VERY small dose. My first script ever was for 900 mg four times daily and I did not yet feel any side effects…it wasnt until I got to a dosage of around 1200 mg at once…not per day…but 1200 mg in ONE setting. I have also talked to many people that believe the tablets (white oval tablets in doses of 400, 600, or 800) are way stronger than the tan 300 capsules. I personally feel if I take three 800 mg tablets, I feel way more “under the influence” than if I were to take eight 300 mg capsules. Big Pharma and the regulation groups are doing a TERRIBLE job at regulating controlled medications by the way. They are yanking them from the people that TRULY need them. The overdoses that are happening on the streets ARE NOT from prescription pain medication….it is from illicit street drugs (heroin, fentanyl). The pill epidemic ended years ago. In the past 3 years, I have lived in the top 3 cities for drug use/overdoses…I lived in the drug capitals of the United States and ran the streets for years…prescription pain medications are NOT the problem…pills are SO hard to find…and the prices of pills on the street are RIDICULOUS due to them being so scarce. A 10 mg Norco is $7-$8. Percocet 10 mg- $10 each. Morphine goes for a $1 a milligram. I can call at least 20 drug dealers RIGHT this very second and get endless amounts of heroin and fentanyl but cant find one damn Norco for my mother thats dying of pain and cant find a doctor to prescribe her pain medication due to the “extreme pill epidemic”….thats not even true. Wouldnt you rather addicts in your community take a PILL that was made in a lab and approved by the FDA….or would you rather your addict community buy an unknown powder, putting it in a spoon, pulling it up in a needle (rig) and shooting it in a vein…..in the alley behind your house…or at your local gas station parking lot. I personally would RATHER the U.S have a severe prescription pain medication problem than heroin/fentanyl. Wouldnt you? Because lets face it….theres no stopping the dealers and addicts…I mean, do strict gun laws decrease illegal gun use? NO. Did prohibition stop alcohol consumption in the United States? NO. Did originally making marijuana illegal help decrease THC use? NO. Giving a 60 year old woman with severe chronic pain a few norcos/perocet a month is not going to effect what’s going on in these streets…okay, its 4:55 in the morning and I am done venting and ranting about this issue. I hope at least one person reads this and gets something out of it. And a little comment to Ryan if he ever reads this, some of your comments were spot on. I agreed with most of them…except the part about comparing heroin to gabapentin, oh and gabapentin and lyrica. For one, gabapentin (street slang: nerds) and Lyrica are in the same classification. They both do indeed treat nerve pain, but they are definitely different medications. Personally, Lyrica gives me completely different side effects. Okay, and the heroin vs gabapentin issue. I know by your post you are truly struggling with addictive behavior and gabapentin users can experience withdrawal after prolonged abuse of gabapentin….but heroin, shes a beast. Unless you’ve truly struggled with a long term heroin addiction, its very hard to make an accurate assumption. Once you introduce the devil (heroin) into your veins, the journey will truly take you to the DEEPEST pits of hell and misery….at times, I would sit at the graves of my best friends…and be jealous that they were finally off the rollarcoaster of hell. Heroin takes your soul and marks it for the devil. Have you ever performed oral sex or had sex for a $5 hit of gabapentin? Probably not…but I have personally witnessed probably 60 different woman do anything and everything for a $5 hit of heroin or crack. And please dont take this as a diss, because its not meant to be. Addiction is hell no matter what substance is being abused. I just know personally, I was taking between 16,000-18,000 mg of gabapentin a day mixed with opiates and still maintained my life- worked full time as a nurse, husband, two children, and paid all my bills every month…but once I started using heroin and crack IV, my whole life came crashing down on me….fast and I could no longer function as a normal person in society..and now I attend a methadone clinic because my body and my brain have a hard time functioning with no opiates in my system. Id rather live and go to a methadone clinic everyday than to be in the trap house overdosed on heroin…and eventually found dead in a ditch. End of rant. Goodnight and be safe!

    • Hello nicole,

      thank you for sharing your story. Im personally struggling with alcoholism. I started drinking to deal with my anxiety. I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder. Im currently prescribed 600mg of gabapentin daily. I am in athens and would love to speak with you and get more insight from your. contact me at [email protected] and hopefully we can arrange something. thanks again for sharing your story.

    • That story is not at all believable. I have used Gabapentin on a few occasions and it never made me “high” and in the doses this person says they ingested, it would put you too sleep. The only “high” Gaba offers is cognate and indistinct from overdosing on Diphenhydramine… Gaba abusers have serious Psychological addictions…

    • Hey hun I am very much impressed with your article & it hits Home w ME more than you know. So I am asking you to please send me an Email @ [email protected] ASAP!!! I have an urgent question for you, I am taking 4mg Xanax & just took 300mg of Gabby’s. Will I feel impairment more so bc of the Gabbys I took? Or is 300mg of the Gabbys such a low amount that it will not Intensify the effects of my 4 mg Xanax that I took all at once?

    • Your ranting sounded so good to hear. I have said the exact same thing. The drug endemic is not doctor writing scripts. Now doctors are afraid to treat people with actual chronic pain. People have been dropped cold Turkey from meds that allowed them to live a life out of agony. So then these people feel they have no choice but to treat it themselves. That is when people use heroin. Allow doctors to do their damn job without being scared of loosing their license. Tying doctors hands with their pain management is causing more problems. Plus it is only increasing the drug epidemic. I am on suboxone now. I never had a problem or abused my meds till I was dropped cold turkey off 100 mcc of fentanyl by my doctor who got afraid of loosing his license. Then I did whatever I had to with illegal drugs to not be in withdrawal. I was in the end on death’s door. Also I was cold turkey taken off 3 mg of clozapine. That was a whole different hell. I never abused my scripts. Yet cold turkey off benzodiazepines can literally kill someone. It was hell. Worse then any withdrawal I ever had. I’m lucky to be alive. All due to my doctors being afraid to continue treating me. I never would of entered the hell if they would of just weaned me slowly off the medications. Yes I take gabapentin now with my suboxone. My hell 12 years ago will always haunt me. These FDA scaring doctors is only putting gasoline one the fire of our drug endemic. Let the doctors due their fucking jobs without being afraid of loosing their license. Then I bet our drug epidemic will decline. Alot less helpless people will turn to heroin. Please don’t even get me started on the bullshit of marijuana being a gateway drug. The gateway is the FDA scaring doctors and leaving their patients helpless.

  • This is my personal story and journey related to neurotonin (gabapentin) if any cares to read. A little background information: I am a 27 year old female, history of chronic asthma, tachycardia, heart murmurs, endometrial cancer led to total hysterectomy, and severe anxiety/depression resulting in a diagnosis of bipolar type 2. My life was completely on track despite severe untreated anxiety- I refused to throw medication at my issues at first due to a strong gene of addiction in my family history. I was 20 years old, married, two children, and a very successful career as a Registered Nurse. When I was diagnosed with cancer at 23 years old, I received a total hysterectomy and immediately developed a severe case of shingles 24 hours after my total hysterectomy. My body was in shock- I was 23 years old in menopause. It caused my already severe anxiety/depression to become unmanageable. I didnt want to live like that anymore. I couldnt go anywhere. My nights were either spent IN the hospital convinced I was dying or I was sleeping in my car in the hospital parking lot. I cant even describe how miserable my life became. I was prescribed norco/vicodin for pain related to shingles, Ativan for anxiety, Lexapro for depression/anxiety, and 900 mg of gabapentin 4 times daily. I became addicted to opiates, benzos, and gabapentin within a year. Gabapentin is described as a “potentiator”. This means that I could either take four opiate tablets (example: norco, Percocet, methadone) to feel relief and intense euphoria or I could take two opiates and a heavy dose of gabapentin and feel INTENSE euphoria. This is because gabapentin is a potentiator- it increases the “high” effects of opiates/benzos and makes them much stronger. So to state the obvious, I would take a bunch of gabapentin, wait for their peak time, and then shoot a half gram of heroin….this is what causes overdoses. That is why it states jt is related to 109 deaths. Lets say, not on gabapebtin, I can do a half gram shot of heroin and still function normally…but if I have a bunch of gabapentin active in my system, if I shot that same half gram shot, I would definitely overdose. If gabapentin is active in my system, I do half the heroin I would normally do so I don’t overdose. Now almost 6 years later, I have had a VERY hard road of heavy drug abuse- I am a recovering IV heroin addict. I have done EVERY drug available in the United States- and done all of them many many times. I feel I am quite educated in the addiction department due to my career in the medical field and a history of substance abuse. I am currently attending a methadone clinic daily- but today, I skipped my methadone dosing and took 2,100 mg of gabapentin 4 hours ago. I have not taken gabapentin in roughly a year. I am currently higher than a kite- feeling intense euphoria and hyperactive. I do currently have mild chest pain and noticable heart palpitations which is common when abusing gabapentin. Gabapentin abuse (in myself) also causes tachycardia/abnormal heartbeat, glossy eyes, abnormal pupil size, uncontrolled movements, hard to control motor functions (my fingers are struggling to hit the right keys on my phone), and I also have very jerky movements and dry mouth. These side effects I am describing have occured everytime I have abused gabapentin. The reason I abuse it is soley due to the potentiator affect and the euphoria. I never felt a euphoria/happiness feeling until I reached a dose of about 1200 at one time…but I have taken up to 8,000 mg at one time. The problem with gabapentin that I have personally experienced was your body develops a tolerance VERY quickly. I used to feel euphoria around 1200, then 3 days later…I had to take 1800 mg to get that same feeling…then it was 2400 mg. So what I used to do is get my script, eat them all within 3-5 days then buy them here and there on the street (they are cheap where I live- $0.50 for a 300 mg, $1.00 for an 800 mg. When the article described that it gives addictd the ability to stay high while having clean urine screens- I believe this to be true due to my personal history. While on probation, I was required to take random urine screens. My probation office uses a 12 panel drug screen with instant results on the front panel of the cup- this does not test for gabapentin BUT urine/blood can be sent to the lab and a gabapentin level can be discovered…but again, its a soeciak

    • Hello Nicole, I don’t have any reason to reply because…well, where would I start! While I have sympathy for your many struggles, I find your story to be most likely embellished? Seriously, you’re a nurse and the hospital had no idea what signs of abuse you were exhibiting? Patients under your care?!! Are your children still in your care because to sleep in your car and be out of the home…while you continued your soul destination to be “high” at all costs.
      And to believe you made these choices is even most disturbing. Your input on Gabapentin is a sorry excuse to draw attention as Queen of drug abuse, and I resent that..”bragging”…because it’s a sick indulgence. Nobody can tell you what you can ingest. But you made choices and sound happy with your lifestyle, even if it will be cut short in due time. PLEASE try to make a better future. I’m sad for your family. I’m sad for all of us who are trying to receive pain medication for disabilities that we can’t reverse. Refrain from joining conversations that your input is not relevant.

    • NICOLE this msg is for you, and the Original message which I sent prior to this one is the most important one! Sorry that I forgot to say this message is to B. Nicole ****IMPORTANT**** & my original message was the 1st msg I sent to you B. Nicole! So please please email me back ASAP what you’re thoughts & response is….. Appreciatively, Carol @ [email protected] is my email address to respond to my original message!!!!! I will be looking for an email from you, all throughout today tonight and tomorrow because I really need to know the answers and your thoughts on this OK I appreciate you more than you know thank you! Appreciatively, CAROL PUZA

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