So you’re prescribed gabapentin by your doctor and you are wondering whether it’s wise to mix gabapentin and alcohol. In a nutshell, please don’t. If you want to know more details about each other and how they react with each other, read on.
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Table of Contents
What is Gabapentin?
Doctors usually prescribe Gabapentin to control seizures. Seizure refers to a sudden change in behavior due to the temporary change in the brain’s electrical functioning. It can also be used for the treatment of nerve pain following the outbreak of shingles. Shingles is a painful acute inflammation of nerve ganglia following a skin eruption, mainly from a girdle around the body.
Doctors are not so sure about how it works in our bodies. It has a structure like a neurotransmitter in the brain, which we call Gaba. It is assumed that it changes how neurochemicals communicate with each other, due to which desired result is achieved. Its dosage depends on the problem for which you are taking it.
READ MORE: Benadryl and Alcohol: Is It Dangerous?
Should you mix Gabapentin and alcohol?
Adding alcohol to the use of Gabapentin is strictly prohibited. A combination of alcohol with the antidepressant can lead to very devastating effects. To understand the side effects, you have to consider the side effects of both alcohol and Gabapentin separately.
What effects does alcohol have on your body?
Almost all individuals of 18 or more use alcohol. Some of them also intake alcohol more than limits. When alcohol enters the body, it gets absorbed by the stomach tissue in the bloodstream and then spreads to other biological tissues. In almost 5 minutes, alcohol reached the brain. The effects of it start appearing after 10 minutes. The liver begins processing alcohol after 20 minutes.
The liver can metabolize one ounce of alcohol per hour. When a person reaches a 0.08 blood level of alcohol, it will take almost five and a half hours to exit the system. A surprising fact is that alcohol remains in urine for 80 hours and remains in hair follicles for more than three months.
READ MORE: How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Body?
When you consume alcohol, it interferes with the pathways in the brain and depending on the level of alcohol, and it can cause multiple side effects like:
- Fine motor coordination decreases.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Memory loss.
- Distorted hearing and vision
- Slurred speech.
- Blurred vision.
- Difficulty in breathing and increased heart rate.
What are the side effects of Gabapentin?
As we have discussed before, why doctors prescribe Gabapentin. Now let’s have a look at what are the possible side effects of this medicine on our health.
- Uncontrolled back and forth eye movement.
- Difficulty in speaking.
- Dry mouth.
What happens when you mix Gabapentin and alcohol?
We have discussed the side effects of both separately, but when we consume Gabapentin and Alcohol together, it will double the side effects mentioned. Delays in response to eyes and speech, decrease in consciousness, and vomiting, which is especially dangerous if you’re in a state of unconsciousness.
Gabapentin itself can be very dangerous when combined with other antidepressants or alcohol. It can cause issues in respiration. The long-term usage of this drug makes you addicted to it, and when you stop using it, the side effects can be anxiety, confusion, and seizures.
An interaction with another substance can be a hurdle in the effectiveness of a drug or can cause adverse effects. But when you mix Gabapentin with alcohol, the consequences can be life-threatening.
When you feel dizzy, you wouldn’t be able to focus on anything. Due to which you can experience multiple life-taking incidents. Like if you are driving after taking a combination of both, an accident can happen. If you are cooking under the influence of both, it can also be devastating.
It refers to a situation when people abnormally fall asleep, as you can interpret with a definition that it can be hazardous. If this situation occurs on your sofa or bed, it is controllable. But what if it happens when you are not at home. Multiple dangers surround you, and many of them can make your day the last day of life.
It can increase the risk of personal injury and can also lead to accidents. The long-term personal side effects of fatigue are depression, obesity, increased stress, and cardiovascular diseases. The side effects can be slow reaction time, reduced vigilance, reduced ability to make decisions, poor judgment, distraction during essential tasks, and loss of awareness in critical situations at the workplace.
Loss of coordination
The common cause of persistent ataxia is damage to the part of your brain that controls muscle coordination. Misuse of drugs and the use of alcohol is one of the reasons which cause ataxia. People can’t control their arms and legs and unstable footsteps during walking.
Inability to focus
Even if you try to focus on the task at hand, it will be difficult for you to stay focused. Distractions will take your attention away after every few minutes. Even the most organized person can feel this difficulty. This, in turn, will cause these problems:
- Inability to sit still.
- Racing thoughts.
- Impaired thinking and judgment:
In this condition, a person won’t be able to make decisions. Addiction and cognitive disorders are directly proportional to each other. A person who won’t be able to think ultimately becomes a patient of depression. A person feels that he has lost something which he is never going to get back again.
It is a symptom due to which you feel that you can’t think clearly. You feel disoriented and also experience a hard time in making decisions. You can also use the term disorientation for the confusion, but it refers to delirium in severe conditions. If you or someone near you feel confused for a long time, then it can be dementia. Let’s have a look at some of the signs through which you can identify confusion:
- Having long pauses during a speech.
- Abnormal speech.
- Not being aware of location or time.
- Forgetting about the ongoing task.
- Sudden changes in emotions.
If you see these symptoms in people suffering from confusion, please contact your emergency health practitioner.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Clammy skin.
People experience anxiety in routine but who develop anxiety disorder frequently have intense worries and fears about everyday situations of their life. That person often feels extreme anxiety and terror that reaches to peak within minutes. These feelings are difficult to control and interfere a lot in your daily activities. Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Always feeling fear from something.
- Increase heart rate.
- Rapid breathing.
- Feeling tired.
- Trouble in thinking about anything.
- Sleeping problem.
- Difficulty in controlling your worries.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
- Difficult to control worries.
- Try hard to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
The cause of headache is from signals interacting among the brain, blood vessels, and surrounding nerves. Medication overuse headaches affect up to 5% of people.
What happens when you overdose on Gabapentin?
- The frequency of headaches increases.
- More headaches than normal days.
- Pain that gets worse in the morning.
- Symptoms of headache due to which you should consult a healthcare provider:
- Three or more headaches per week.
- Headaches keep getting worse.
- You need to take pain relievers almost every day.
According to research, anticonvulsants can reduce the cravings for alcohol. But the studies didn’t show any proof that it has any effect on the cravings for alcohol. But it has proved that the combination of both can be tolerated. Still, please inform your doctor about the use of alcohol while you use Gabapentin so that they can affect any possible side effects in you.
The fact that alcohol is a depressant and Gabapentin works on your nervous system, and you can imagine now that the combination of both can affect you adversely. While using Gabapentin it is better to avoid or limit the usage of alcohol. Be honest with your doctor regarding your habit of using alcohol or any other drug you are taking while the doctor is prescribing you Gabapentin. Because you need to avoid or lessen the effects of both on your health.
If you are in doubt about your condition, please immediately contact your local health services. Do not leave the house alone under the effect of the combination.
- Anxiety Side Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961
- Difficulty Concentrating. (n.d.). Retrieved from Buoy: https://www.buoyhealth.com/learn/difficulty-concentrating
- Headaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9639-headaches
- (2020). Know the Risk: Alcohol and Gabapentin Don’t Mix. Vertava Health.
- Spring Hill Recovery Centre. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://springhillrecovery.com/gabapentin-alcohol-side-effects/
- Team, H. E. (2019). What You Should Know About Confusion. Healthline.
- The Recovery Village. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/gabapentin-addiction/gabapentin-and-alcohol/