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The misuse of gabapentin and other related substances has been steadily rising over the past few years. In fact, according to the journal CNS Drugs, “Increasing levels of… prescriptions and related fatalities, together with an anecdotally growing black market, have ben reported from a range of countries.” Therefore, since gabapentin abuse is so prevalent, it is important that treatment exists for its addiction syndrome.
Is Gabapentin Addictive?
Many signs do point to the drug’s serious potential for abuse and addiction. It can create both tolerance and dependence in its users, and its ability to produce a euphoric high leads many individuals to abuse it. While there has not been as much research on the subject as there has been on the abuse and addiction potential of other drugs, gabapentin does seem to be able to cause every issue currently associated with addiction.
Pharmacological Treatments for Gabapentin Addiction
As gabapentin addiction has not been thoroughly studied in the way other drugs of abuse and their addiction syndromes have, there are currently no approved pharmacological treatments for this syndrome. However, a person may need to be tapered slowly off of gabapentin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, similar to the way benzodiazepine use is slowly tapered off to avoid the serious withdrawal effects (Bipolar Disorders).
Behavioral Treatments for Gabapentin Addiction
When someone becomes addicted to gabapentin, the main treatment methods likely to be used in their recovery are behavioral therapies. Counseling and other behavioral treatments are used for most addiction syndromes and have been found to be extremely helpful in treating everything from opioid to stimulant to CNS depressant addiction; it is often merely a matter of finding the right behavioral treatment type.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be very beneficial, as it teaches patients a new way to see their drug use. They can learn how to fight cravings and avoid triggers by considering possible scenarios and safer, better ways to respond to them. Another option is contingency management where a patient is given a cash prize or a voucher for every clean drug test they produce. Behavioral therapies can also be essential in treating other mental disorders that often co-occur with addiction, helping the individual become better able to avoid relapse and live a happier, more stable life after treatment.
Other Treatments for Gabapentin Addiction
Support groups, like Narcotics Anonymous, can also be helpful to many addicts. Whether you choose a 12-step group like that mentioned above or another type of program, support groups can be a great supplement to formal treatment and an activity patients can continue long after formal treatment ends.
For those who are more creative, holistic treatments like yoga, art therapy, dance therapy, and others can be truly beneficial and can allow a person to tap into a side of themselves that helps them become stronger and more self-actualized.