Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

Gabapentin and Alcohol: Can You Drink While Taking Gabapentin?

Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Gabapentin?

It can be dangerous to drink alcohol while taking gabapentin. The two substances function as depressants, slowing down the body and brain.

Alcohol and gabapentin’s similar side effects can double in intensity and cause immediate medical issues.

Adverse side effects include:

  • Severe respiratory problems from slowed breathing
  • Nausea
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Severe dehydration

6 Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol

People use alcohol and gabapentin together to have a good time. People who mix gabapentin and alcohol may simultaneously feel:

  • Relaxed
  • Euphoric
  • Energized

However, these effects may not last long. The dangerous combination of alcohol and gabapentin may result in overdose or death.

Here are some of the dangers associated with mixing Gabapentin and alcohol:

1. Cognitive issues

Mixing gabapentin and alcohol is linked to changes in cognitive function, which can lead to confusion.2 Your confusion can result in poor decision-making skills and severe mood changes.

2. Coordination problems

When taking gabapentin with alcohol, there is an increased risk of injury and falls because of coordination problems. 

3. Drowsiness

Gabapentin causes drowsiness and sleepiness, affecting a person’s coordination and reflexes. Mixing alcohol with it may worsen these side effects, impairing day-to-day functioning. 

4. Fatigue

Mixing alcohol and gabapentin causes extreme weakness, which can significantly impair a person’s quality of life.

5. Overdose

Alcohol and gabapentin are depressants, and mixing the two increases your risk of alcohol-related overdose.

6. Respiratory Depression

Gabapentin and alcohol are depressants. When combined, alcohol and gabapentin may heighten each other’s side effects and cause life-threatening respiratory depression.

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Can I Overdose From Mixing Alcohol and Gabapentin?

Combining gabapentin and alcohol can worsen respiratory and central nervous system (CNS) depression, which increases the risk of overdose and death.

An alcohol and gabapentin overdose occurs when the substances slow down your brain activity. If left untreated, an overdose can be life-threatening. 

Common symptoms of overdose include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bluish skin, lips, or fingernails
  • Respiratory depression (slow, ineffective breathing)
  • Low body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or someone you know is exhibiting these symptoms, call for immediate medical help.

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How Long After Taking Gabapentin Can I Drink Alcohol?

Taking gabapentin for pain comes in doses. It starts with the lowest amount, gradually increasing depending on the patient's pain relief needs.

Alcohol intake is not recommended, especially for those who have just started taking gabapentin and have yet to reach a stable dose. Once you’re at this point, you may discuss with your healthcare provider whether or not it is okay to drink alcohol in moderation. 

However, doing so can lead to severe drowsiness. The best action is to talk to your doctor about drinking alcohol after taking gabapentin.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription medication used to control seizures in people with epilepsy. It does this by slowing down the brain's electrical activity.

It also influences the actions of the brain's chemicals, known as neurotransmitters. Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic or anticonvulsant medication, but healthcare providers can also use it to treat:

  • Nerve pain from diabetes
  • Shingles
  • Injuries
  • Restless leg syndrome.

Healthcare providers also use gabapentin in substance abuse treatment and managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD).

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Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Gabapentin is addictive because its inhibitory effect makes a person happy or relaxed.

Although the DEA does not schedule most medications containing gabapentin as controlled substances, there is potential for abuse. Because of this, some states have reclassified gabapentin as a Schedule V controlled substance.2

Doctors prescribe gabapentin with caution because of its misuse potential. This is especially true for people with a history of substance abuse disorders.2

Is Mixing Gabapentin and Alcohol a Sign of Addiction? 

Mixing gabapentin and alcohol is a sign of a substance use disorder (SUD). Any person can have a drug or alcohol problem, and you can develop dependence without realizing it. 

Alcohol or drug dependence happens when you rely on these substances to feel good or to cope with your daily life. If you think you depend on drugs or alcohol, seek professional medical advice.

Treatment Options for Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Medications are an essential part of a substance use disorder (SUD) management plan, but behavioral therapy and counseling are the most commonly utilized forms of treatment. 

Every treatment plan is customized according to patient needs and must be regularly checked and adjusted.

Available treatment options for SUD include:

  • Inpatient treatment: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision
  • Outpatient treatment: A treatment program where you are freely allowed to leave the rehab facility
  • Partial hospitalization program: A treatment program where you stay at a rehab facility for a day and return home at night
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A short-term therapy technique that explores the link between thought patterns and addiction
  • Counseling: Counselors provide support and guidance for those dealing with addiction or behavioral disorders
  • Aftercare programs: Support group programs designed to help guide you through the recovery process and maintain sobriety

Summary

Gabapentin is a prescription medication used to control seizures in people diagnosed with epilepsy. When combined with alcohol, it can cause a euphoric and relaxed feeling.

However, combining gabapentin and alcohol can be dangerous. Mixing these substances can increase the likelihood of overdose and death.

While on gabapentin, drinking alcohol is not recommended. If you want to drink alcohol, you’ll have to wait until a stable dose is determined before you can drink moderately.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
7 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Bisaga, A., Evans, S. “The acute effects of gabapentin in combination with alcohol in heavy drinkers. Drug and alcohol dependence.” 2005.
  2. CMAJ. “Gabapentin Misuse.” Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2019.
  3. "Gabapentin and its  use in pain management." National Health Service.
  4. Mersfelder, T., and Nichols, W. “Gabapentin: Abuse, Dependence, and Withdrawal.” The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 2015.
  5. NIDA. "Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019.
  6. Wiffen et al. “Gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain in adults.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews,  2017.
  7. Gabapentin.” MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine, 2020.

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