Gabapentin and benzodiazepines are not frequently prescribed together, but in some cases, gabapentin may be prescribed to people in withdrawal from benzodiazepines.

The two drugs can have certain interactions. The side effects of both medicines are intensified when they are taken in combination.

Gabapentin and Benzos

In October 2016, The Conversationpublished an article explaining how Valium, a well-known benzodiazepine, was created as a sort of wonder drug in the 1960s. After decades of overprescription, doctors finally admitted that this seemingly harmless medication could cause addiction.

The article also hypothesized that gabapentin might follow a similar route. It was created to help treat seizures but it is most often prescribed to people who have epilepsy.

Though it is less frequently prescribed with benzodiazepines (BZDs), gabapentin is sometimes used to treat withdrawal symptoms as a result of quitting benzodiazepines, according to a May 2017 study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Why Focus on Gabapentin and Benzos?

Gabapentin has been studied as a medication that can decrease the likelihood of benzodiazepine dependence or misuse in patients undergoing methadone maintenance treatment.

As Stated by the Findings in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse:

  • Misuse of benzodiazepines tends to be a problem in patients undergoing methadone maintenance treatment.
  • Pregnant women who misuse BZDs tend to have babies that weigh less than women who do not.
  • Patients with a benzodiazepine use disorder are eight times more likely to die than methadone maintenance patients who do have this issue.

The Reasons Why Doctors were Studying Gabapentin as a Substitute for Benzos Include:

  • It does not affect how the liver metabolizes other drugs.
  • Gabapentin has been used as a treatment for marijuana and alcohol misuse.

What are the Consequences of Mixing Gabapentin And Benzos?

Gabapentin can have various adverse effects depending on what is mixed with it. The medication works by changing how neurotransmitters in the brain send messages to each other. Medical News Today mentions that this decrease in communication could lessen the intensity or frequency of seizures.

It Appears That There are Various Medications and Substances in Which Gabapentin Should Not Be Mixed, Such as the Following:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Pain medication (narcotics)
  • Morphine
  • Caffeine

Common Side Effects of Taking Gabapentin Are:

  • Sleepiness
  • Water retention
  • Dizziness

Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. This class of medication is widely used to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, and alcohol withdrawal.

Common Side Effects of Benzodiazepines Are:

  • Depression
  • Sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy

Some of these side effects are also common to gabapentin. Taking the two medications at the same time may worsen or intensify these effects.

The Conversation states that the elderly as most at risk of the detrimental consequences of using gabapentin, as this medication works on GABA receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for relieving the brain of anxiety.

In addition, gabapentin is known to have the potential for addiction as some patients have used it to feel euphoria. Tolerance to gabapentin is said to build quickly. It can be abused as there are some people who inject it or administer it into their rectum.

The elderly are often prescribed gabapentin, as are others who have survived cancer. Medical News Today says benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed to the elderly.

Other Things You Should Not Combine with Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are Common. Besides Gabapentin, There are Various Other Substances that Should Not Be Taken with Benzodiazepines, Such As:

  • Alcohol. Benzodiazepines and alcohol are known to be a fatal combination. NBC News reports that it is widely known that benzodiazepines can work fast. Taking them with alcohol can intensify their effects and even cause respiratory issues that lead to death.
  • Opioids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involve benzodiazepines. Both of these medications are known to decrease breathing rates and have sedative effects. Many patients actually have concurrent prescriptions, but studies show that people who take both medications at the same time are likely to visit the emergency room.
  • Antidepressants and contraceptives. Both of these kinds of medication are known to cause a buildup of benzodiazepines, which could be dangerous.
  • Certain anticonvulsants, St. John’s wort, and rifampicin (antibiotic). These could decrease the intensity of benzodiazepines.

Boston, Massachusetts news station WBUR reported in November 2015 that drug cocktails are part of the overdose crisis. Doctors often prescribe medication to patients with the best of intentions, but that does not mean they can stop patients from abusing them.

There are a few ways to decrease the chances that someone will mix benzodiazepines with other medications, such as gabapentin.

  • Doctors should make sure that benzodiazepines are not prescribed as the first line of defense.
  • Patients should properly store their medication and ensure no one can use it but them.
  • Patients should follow scheduled dosage instructions and discuss any questions with their physician.

As for Gabapentin:

  • Baby boomers are likely to misuse this medication, so doctors should educate this demographic when it is prescribed to them.
  • Doctors should monitor gabapentin use better and advise patients if abuse is suspected.
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