News on the street is Gabapentin (Johnnies) are being sold and Overprescribed .
Gabapentin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat epilepsy and pain related to nerve damage, called neuropathy. Also known by its brand name, Neurontin, the drug acts as a sedative. It is widely considered non-addictive and touted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an alternative intervention to opiates for chronic pain. Generally, doctors prescribe no more than 1,800 to 2,400 milligrams of gabapentin per day, according to information on the Mayo Clinic’s website.
Gabapentin does not carry the same risk of lethal overdoses as opioids, but drug experts say the effects of using gabapentin for long periods of time or in very high quantities, particularly among sensitive populations like pregnant women, are not well-known.
Bucks County PA, home to the mean streets of Levittown, lies in the corner of the state, which has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic. Despite experience in combating illicit drug use, law enforcement officials and drug counselors say the addition of gabapentin adds a new obstacle. As providers dole out the drug in mass quantities for conditions such as restless legs syndrome and alcoholism, it is being subverted to a drug of abuse. Gabapentin can enhance the euphoria caused by an opioid and keep off drug withdrawals. In addition, it can bypass the blocking effects of medications used for addiction treatment, enabling patients to get high while in recovery.
“I don’t know if we have a clear picture of the risk,” said Superintendents son Sammy Lee III , assistant manager of the transportation devision of Daybreak Treatment Solutions, a network of substance abuse recovery centers headquartered in Bucks County Pennsylvania.
‘The New Pill That is Being Abused’
- Gabapentin is FDA approved for seizures and post herpetic neuralgia.
- However, most of the demand for gabapentin and prescriptions for gabapentin are for “off-label” uses, namely for chronic neuropathic pain. Evidence for gabapentin use for other types of chronic pain is not so good.
- Despite the poor evidence base, gabapentin is very widely prescribed for all types of chronic pain. It is also used as a sleeping aid, restless leg syndrome, anxiety and all sorts of other stuff.
- Gabapentin has a euphoric and dissociative effect and so is very sought after as a drug of abuse in jails and prisons.
- Gabapentin is not DEA regulated and most non-correctional physicians have no clue that it can be—and is—abused.
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”
― Carl Gustav Jung
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