Neurontin is an anticonvulsant used to prevent seizures. It has been used to treat alcohol and cocaine withdrawal symptoms as well.
What is Neurontin?
Neurontin is an anticonvulsant used to prevent epileptic seizures and to treat post herpetic neuralgia, severe pain along the length of nerves due to shingles. Neurontin increases the levels of GABA in the brain and reduces pain in the nervous system. Like other drugs in the anticonvulsant class, Neurontin impedes the excitability of brain cells and changes the way the body senses pain and pleasure. It is used for chronic pain as it is a non-narcotic drug.
Uses for Neurontin
There are several off-label uses for Neurontin such as alcohol withdrawal, cocaine withdrawal, restless leg syndrome, hot flashes, and fibromyalgia. However, it does not prevent alcohol-related or drug-related seizures. It is also used for anxiety, pain, insomnia, restlessness and as an adjunctive mood stabilizer for those with bipolar disorder. It may be prescribed in alcohol rehab centers to treat alcohol dependence as patients report getting relief from alcohol cravings while taking Neurontin. In this way, it can help solidify recovery and diminish the rate of relapse in recovering alcoholics as an anti-craving medication. It has, on occasion, been used to modulate mood disorders associated with bipolar disorder.
For those who are at risk of seizure from alcohol withdrawal, Neurontin will not stop seizures. Dilantin, in this scenario, would be a better choice.
Side Effects of Neurontin
- Rolling eye movements
This medication has been known to cause suicidal ideation, depression, and hopelessness. Individuals taking Neurontin should notify their physician immediately if they become overwhelmed with feelings of sadness. This drug should not be combined with other drugs or alcohol as it is a central nervous system depressant.
One should not stop taking Neurontin without first consulting with a physician as sudden cessation of the drug can cause seizures.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Neurontin
Like other anticonvulsants, use of Neurontin should never just be stopped. The body must be slowly weaned off the drug or withdrawal symptoms will occur and can include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
When taking Neurontin, it is not advisable to drink alcohol as some people will experience side effects such as:
- Coordination problems
A person taking Neurontin will experience the negative side effects from drinking alcohol as well as an inability to drink large quantities of alcohol safely, leading to excessive sedation. Taking Neurontin and drinking alcohol can be especially dangerous for the elderly.
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