Gabapentin is a prescription drug used for treatment of partial seizures in adults as well as children. In some cases, the drug is also prescribed to relieve nerve pain caused by shingles infections. It belongs to a class of drugs known as anticonvulsants.
In some cases, gabapentin is prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social phobia.
Gabapentin comes in three forms: capsules, tablets, and solutions. All of them are taken orally. The tablets additionally come in immediate-release and extended-release types. In drugstores, you’ll often find this drug under the brand name Neurontin.
This drug works by managing levels of a molecule in the brain known as gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is known for its calming effects.
If you often drink wine and have to take this medication, you might be wondering if it’s okay to take them both.
Wine and gabapentin
As a rule of thumb, it is never advisable to drink alcohol while you are taking any medication. Alcohol can enhance the effects of drugs it interacts with, along with their side effects. The effects of alcohol on your body will be more intense as well.
The same holds true for gabapentin.
What are the side effects of gabapentin?
Under normal circumstances, gabapentin can give you the following side effects:
- Vision problems
- Weight gain
In most cases, these side effects are not too serious and should go away after a short time. For some patients, though, there could be more severe side effects, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Joint pain
- Motion sickness
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior (in rare cases)
These are rare, though. But once you experience these, seek medical attention right away. They could develop into more serious health problems.
These are the possible side effects of gabapentin if you don’t take alcohol with it. Now, let’s have a look at what can happen if you combine this drug and alcohol.
What will happen if I take wine and gabapentin together?
Taking any alcoholic drink, like wine, while on gabapentin medication is risky. For one, you may experience more intense versions of the side effects mentioned above.
Also, you can get intoxicated more easily. For example, if you can usually take three glasses of wine before feeling drunk, you may feel the same way after only one glass of wine. Gabapentin and alcohol together can heighten each other’s effects.
Not only that, but there could be additional side effects, like these:
- Loss of coordination
- Issues with digestion
Alcohol and gabapentin can also have negative effects on your mood and behavior. You could be prone to making bad decisions, which may lead to injury, harming others, or even death.
Both gabapentin and alcohol are depressants. They can affect motor functions, so you may not be able to move properly or maintain your balance if you take them together.
On rare occasions, these two substances may severely slow down your breathing. This is known as respiratory depression, and it can be fatal if not addressed immediately.
As well as heightening each other’s effects, alcohol can at the same time decrease the effectiveness of your gabapentin medication. That means you may not feel the intended effects with the dosage provided by your doctor.
Moreover, alcohol will affect your memory and sound judgment. Thus, you could be prone to missing doses or double dosing. If you’re on other medications, you may even take the wrong ones inadvertently when you’re in a confused state due to effects of alcohol.
In summary, if you are on a gabapentin medication, it is best to avoid drinking wine until your medication is over.
What if I can’t help drinking wine while on gabapentin medication?
If you find yourself not able to abstain from alcohol, this may be a sign of alcohol use disorder. Talk to your doctor first. Tell him about your compulsion to drink before he prescribes gabapentin to you. That way, he can tell you the best thing to do next.
It is possible that your condition that requires gabapentin treatment are actually symptoms of alcohol use disorder. If that’s the case, your doctor will help you find appropriate treatments for that condition.
In some cases, gabapentin is actually used as one of many treatments for alcohol use disorder. Based on the results of one clinical trial, patients treated with gabapentin had more days without heavy drinking than those treated with a placebo. However, other studies give mixed results and indicate that gabapentin provides no benefit over other treatments for alcohol use disorder.
For this reason, gabapentin is not normally used to treat this condition. And if it is, the drug is usually combined with other treatments for better outcomes.
Is it possible to be addicted to gabapentin?
If you take higher doses than what your doctor prescribed you, it’s possible to become addicted to this drug. The risk for addiction is much higher when you take this drug with alcohol, as the latter can tone down the effects of the drug.
When you don’t feel that the medication is working, you may be tempted to increase your dosage on your own. Once you do, this can be the beginning of developing a physical dependence on the drug. Later on, this can progress into gabapentin addiction.
Can I be addicted to both gabapentin and alcohol?
It is also possible to be addicted to both substances simultaneously. But as with any substance addiction, this can be treated.
The first step is to consult your doctor or a mental health professional. That way, he can help you create a treatment plan appropriate for your specific needs.
If your case is mild, treatment may be shorter and you may not have to relocate to a rehab facility for a few months. You can still continue with your normal routines like work, school, and family time while going through treatment.
But in severe cases, you may have to stay in a rehab facility for up to three months. That way, you can focus solely on your recovery.
Talk to a professional today to get the best help for your needs.