Gabapentin Abuse in Recovery

Gabapentin has gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to opioids for treating chronic pain. For those in recovery, it has often been prescribed as an off label treatment for anxiety, as most of us in early sobriety experience bouts of heightened anxiety as a result of post acute withdrawal syndrome. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and addicts have resorted to abusing their Gabapentin prescriptions. If you give in to this temptation, you are severely damaging your recovery efforts and are not truly living in sobriety. Let’s look at just a few of the problems that come from using and abusing Gabapentin.

First, your motivation for abusing your medication is to escape your reality, which is the complete opposite behavior we need to perform in recovery. You should be relying on healthy stress relief techniques, not running for a pill bottle. Reaching for medication is the behavior of active addiction, and prevents you from tackling the challenges in your life and overcoming them. You cannot consider yourself sober when you are misusing your prescription medication, so if you have indulged in this harmful behavior you need to discuss the situation with your sponsor and get back on track in your recovery.

The other major issue with Gabapentin abuse is the potential for physical dependence and overdose. Despite the non-narcotic nature of this drug, there is still a risk of developing a dependence on Gabapentin, as you require larger and larger doses to achieve the desired effect. This also opens you up to the risk of overdose, and there have been deaths attributed to an overdose of Gabapentin in the past few years. Despite your having legally acquired this prescription, even after disclosing to your physician you are in recovery, you should strongly consider tapering off your use of Gabapentin so you can truly live in sobriety free from dependence on any medication.

There has been a marked increase in the prescribing of Gabapentin to those in recovery as a treatment for anxiety or chronic pain. While the correct use of Gabapentin as a temporary treatment for these conditions is healthy in recovery, relying on this prescription long term seems to lead to abuse of this drug. In light of this reality, you should seek alternative means to treat any anxiety or chronic pain you are experiencing, such as physical therapy or acupuncture. These homeopathic therapies are far healthier in the long term for those of us in recovery, as they pose no threat to our sobriety. Above all, as long as you strive to live by the principles of AA in all your behaviors you will succeed in recovery and achieve lasting sobriety!