Gabapentin the next medication to become a “controlled substance” ?

Study finds high rate of misuse of seizure and pain drug

With increasing public attention to overdose deaths and misuse of prescription medications in the United States, researchers today presented the results of a new study looking at abuse and misuse of gabapentin, a medication used to treat seizures and relieve nerve pain often associated with shingles.

The research, presented at the 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Philadelphia, found about one in five patients who are using powerful opioid pain medications and being monitored for compliance or illicit drug use tested positive for gabapentin even though they did not have a prescription for the drug.

“The high rate of misuse of this medication is surprising and it is also a wakeup call for prescribers,” said Poluru L. Reddy, PhD, DABCC, the medical director of ARIA Diagnostics and ARCTIC Medical Labs. “Doctors don’t usually screen for gabapentin abuse when making sure patients are taking medications, such as opioids, as prescribed. These findings reveal that there is a growing risk of abuse and a need for more robust testing.”

Between 2008 and 2011 the number of emergency room visits in metropolitan areas for misuse or abuse of gabapentin (also known by the brand name Neurontin) increased by nearly five times, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Gabapentin is not scheduled as a controlled substance, because when taken alone there is little potential for abuse and addiction. When taken with other medications, however, such as opioids, muscle relaxants, and anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax, gabapentin can be abused to increase a patient’s “high.”

Researchers at ARIA Diagnostics found that of those patients taking gabapentin illicitly, over half (56%) were taking it with an opioid, about a quarter (27%) with an opioid and muscle relaxant or anxiety medication, and the rest with other substances. The 323 samples tested came from pain clinics (about 90%) and rehabilitation clinics (about 10%) primarily in Indiana, Arizona, and Massachusetts.

“This research tells doctors and prescribers that they need to be cautious in prescribing gabapentin and closely monitor patients with a history of drug abuse,” said Reddy. “And patients need to know that medications that are safe alone can be dangerous when mixed without talking with a doctor.”

In addition to this study, researchers will present the latest in drug abuse testing at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, including:

•The validation of a new test designed to ensure pain management patients are using prescriptions as directed by testing for the presence of 55 drugs and metabolites with one sample. “Validation of a LC/MS-MS Method for Pain Management Confirmatory Drug Testing of 55 Drugs and Metabolites” (B-313)

•A new test to measure the presence of a morphine-like semi-synthetic opioid (buprenorphine) that has a high potential for abuse and addiction. “New Emit II Plus Buprenorphine Assay with 5 ng/mL Cutoff” (B-320)

•A new clinical laboratory test for patients in drug monitoring programs that differentiates between the presence of illicit methamphetamines and the use of legal methamphetamines found in over-the-counter decongestant inhalers. This test would make this screening more widely available. “Validation of an LCMS Method for Chiral Determination of Methamphetamine” (A-371)

•A urine test to confirm the presence of nicotine from tobacco smoke versus a nicotine patch. This test could be useful in tracking success in tobacco cessation clinics. “A Novel Dilute and Shoot LC-MS/MS Method for the Measurement of Nicotine, Cotinine, Nornicotine, and Anabasine in Human Urine” (A-351)

31 Responses

  1. Where the Hell are the brains in the field of addiction coming from? I know many of them are actually recovering addicts, but maybe — and this isn’t a nice thing to say but I don’t care — they should have their cells counted.

    Why does P. Reddy think this is “surprising?” Go back and look at how long gabapentin has been abused. It’s surprising!

    The street users know long before the PhD’s what to abuse and how. How do you suppose they find out? Information comes usually from one original source, then it spreads. And it’s not hard to find these days.

    Are we so stupid a nation that we can’t see in front of our faces?

    I’m sick and tired of scientific information. How do we know who and what to trust. Organizations, government branches, studies, publications, and more, are all-knowing and lately wrong. I follow one website that calls out scientists who alter and falsify and mess up information, then publish it in their articles. Some of these bad apples are getting caught five or six times and just keep on without reprimand. I can’t remember the name of the site right now, but if anyone wants it, post a note here and I’ll put a link on a reply.

    This is all about education in my observations. It’s elementary, Watson, teach at an early age. Don’t blame teachers and parents. Blame a much-needed industry we don’t seem to have enough of.

    So here’s another example of folks are out there in either party land or in a very sad addiction situation getting high on medication the innocent, sick people need. Somebody has to ruin it for the majority, which tells me the education taking place on the streets is more intelligent than the education taking place in our country as a whole.

  2. I agree with kandiapple. all of it. That makes more sense than what we are getting from the powers that be.

  3. Next thing we know, someone will discover that people are abusing alcohol. Then we can make it a controlled substance, thereby making it illegal to produce, traffic in, possess, or consume alcohol. We will be able to count on the D.E.A., federal/state/local law enforcement agencies, aided and abetted by the O.N.D.C.P., N.I.D.A, and N.I.A.A.A to crack down on all the evil “bottle mills” that have cruelly visited this epidemic of alcohol abuse, addiction, and death upon us. They’ll take care of it, then we will be able to breath a collective sigh of relief that anyone who needs alcohol (ethanol) for medical purposes will have to obtain the consent and permission (aka prescription) of their doctor, be drug tested, use only one pharmacy, and use the ethanol under the sober medical supervision of their physician.

    What else do I need to add to that little outburst of satire/parody to make it clear that all of these people have lost their collective mind, if they ever had it to start with.

  4. Gee, what a shock .. addicts abusing another substance. When will they realize that ANY substance that can be consumed by the human body in some way can also be misused and abused. Period. Also, some heroin addicts will keep gabapentin around so they can use it to help ease their withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to buy heroin or have to get clean for a drug test. I’m sure the DEA is slobbering to schedule this one as well. I never could take this or Lyrica, but I know it helps others in pain. I’m sure they’ll schedule this and make it that much harder for the legitimate pain patients who take this. Of course, addicts will always be able find it on the streets.

  5. I’ve read on other sites they’ve figured out how to get a buzz off Seroquel by crushing it and snorting it. Truly folks, a true addict, if they believe they can get any kind of psychological or physical high from ANY substance, they will figure out a way…..Addiction will NEVER go away no matter how hard the government tries to ban, restrict, schedule, incarcerate, a person or substance. The addicts will always be able to outsmart the mousetrap even before it hits the market……so, the government should just hang it up

    • Every time that you try to make something idiot proof… they build better idiots 🙁

      • Addicts are not “idiots”! If you had any sort of compassion, etc you would know this. You must’ve missed that class huh…

        • Apparently your comprehension is lacking… if you would have read the article/post .. you should have notice the hyperlink to a article from

          I did not add any comments … I routinely put my comments in GREEN… and since there is no GREEN text in the entire text of this post.. it was quoted from the published article. Maybe you should read some of the other 4000+ post on my blog.. before you jump to the conclusion that I lack compassion for those suffering from the mental health disease of addictive personality disorder .

      • Hahahahaha! Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  6. interesting comments on this post. all about addiction and none about pain. usually all the comments here are like ‘boohoohoo, i’m a chronic pain patient. waa, waa. i’m not an addict. pain, pain, pain.’ well… it seems like the truth has finally made an appearance. congratulations to all.

    • The truth is that Chronic pain patients are being denied pain medication because a small percent have abused the meds. Because those who make our laws do not understand that addicts will move to other sources when they can no longer get their drug of choice other medications such as Gabapentin may also be very hard to get for someone who has chronic pain. Chronic pan suffer and the addicts are not getting the treatment that is needed when they are ready to get off the drug. When you tell the next bed opening is a year from now chances are they will never be seen again.

      • True story it is a real shame we must suffer BC they finally decided that opioid treatment can be harmful so these docs no longer treat the Patient, they only commence cutting your mess, irregardless of your personal situation

    • Obviously you’re not a chronic pain patient are you, you fucktard! As one myself,trigeminal neuralgia “suicide disease”, I take offense to your dumbass comments. If you only knew the pain, your opinion would be soooo different. I guess just goes to show you why this world is the way it is,people like you. So congratulations to you, fucktard of the year award winner.

    • What a totally ignorant point of view, William. Obviously you have no chronic pain issue. There are many people like me with chronic pain from 3 bulging discs and neuropathy in both feet. I can’t sit or stand for longer than 20 minutes at a time and my feet feel like someone has set off firecrackers in all of my toes. I avoid all medications. I have had a prescription for Gabapentin for years. Prescribed 3 a day and never take more than one. Take no pain medication on a regular basis at all. But for those that take their meds as prescribed should be able to do so without being rebuked by you. Your comment is insensitive and really doesn’t even make any sense. Waa, waa, waa. Get off your high horse.

  7. Been on gabapentinfor 2 years coming off withdrawals worse than the heroin withdrawals

    • I had horrible withdrawals from Gabapentin. I was prescribed it with Suboxene for Opiate dependency. Make sense to you??

  8. kandiapple, I would be interested in checking out the web site you mention. That “website that calls out scientists who alter and falsify and mess up information.” Hope you’re following this comment thread. Thank you for your contribution to the conversation!

  9. All the amoking cessation products replace the form.of nicotine.the.peraon is getting. My husband used smokeless
    .worst one to quit. for 6 yrs he has been usuing logenzes regularly because he cant have the other at work without having his insurance premium inceased
    work doesnt care how long they are on these products as long as they are not smoking or chewing Absolutely no different than suboxone or methadone for years.

  10. I had a pretty bad addiction to weed. I took this gab (got from a friend) and now I’m pretty much cured. I haven’t wanted weed. I feel calm. I’m gonna wane myself off of it. I haven’t done other drugs while on it. This literally saved my life. I agree people can abuse it but you shouldn’t scare people from taking it. It truly is a life saver. Cured me of my addiction

    • I agree man. First day on it myself an addict and I feel great. Took it as prescribed. Its prescribed to me for nerve damage hence my paralyzed arm and for mental illness and I feel like I’m in a whole new world. A normal world for once

  11. I think this is somewhat unnecessary due to the freedoms that are tested through a urine test. Come on what next?

  12. I was on that awful stuff for a while. Never felt to take fistfuls of it but if I ran out and was away from a pharmacy or something the withdrawal was BAD. Like I’m a recovering heroin addict so I know what ‘bad’ and gabapentin is about halfway as a bad as heroin (different though). Doctors specifically said that it didn’t cause physical dependency so there’s a real chance of non addicts getting hooked and finding out when they can’t get a refill. Surprise!

  13. Gabapentin is used by addicts to keep from beibg sick when they have no drugs. It helps the withdrawal symptoms. But in my state of WV we ha e a large aamount out Drugs right now but the actual abuse of Gabapentin is not a problem .

  14. So what it’s being abused? It doesn’t cause any problems! You can’t overdose on the stuff! I take 10 800mg at night so I can sleep. I don’t take anything else with it. I can take otc sleeping pills. They just cause rls and I can’t keep still. I can’t take the prescribed sleeping pills like Ambien because they cause me to do crazy shit! So yes I take more then the bottle says. And hell if people want to take other drugs and maybe die from them then let them!! There’s too many damned people in the world anyways!!

    • You CAN OD on it…and can cause kidney failure…just because they aren’t advertising the negative effects and addictive qualities doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      The same thing happened with opioids in the beginning….drug companies claimed they weren’t addictive and no negative side effects until….


  15. From a recovering addict
    I was going to say I’m sorry but no I’m not! The DEA and the government are way too involved in everyone’s personal lives now!! I think it’s our own choice to take drugs or not!! I myself decided to quit. Others go on taking them and putting their lives on the line. So be it!! The DEA is barely making a dent in the drug game. Their excessive paychecks do not warrant that. Spend the damn billions of dollars elsewhere!!!

  16. If I were the AMA, I might ask the government to stay where they belong and that is Washington, DC, and surely not in the middle of the Doctor/Patient relationship which was once sacred in nature. Why are MDs taking this intrusion into their profession by the FDA and DEA?
    The truth of the matter is that outside their offices, doctors are sheep with very little honor to their patients.

  17. I have had 2 back surjerys a diebetic and have nerve damage in my si-joints neurontin has been life saver the doctors have taken my pain medicine my anxiety meds and now the want to take this what are patients suppose to do? Oh i know what if we go back to drinking when I dint want to be that person that had back pain you know downing a fifth every time I was in so much pain but what did my doctor do dissabled me and started the pain pill regiment why did they invent medications if they are not for taking i take a pill for all the other diagnosis i know people abuse them but monitor us don’t put name tag on us and say we are all bad! Just give the patient a chance to take all the medication the right don’t take them away because the government says too.

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