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What is Gabapentin for Alcohol Use Disorder?

round life buoy, Gabapentin for Alcohol Use Disorder
Addiction to alcohol affects millions of people throughout the United States, destroying lives and communities in every part of the country and every social strata. In fact, according to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 30 million people over the age of 12 had alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the previous year. This implies that, on average, one out of every eleven people in the US struggles with alcohol addiction. Because alcohol poses such a widespread problem, there are many quick-fix cures and new diet routines that promise an easy path to sobriety, but do any of them work? There is no quick fix to addiction, but some pharmaceutical aides, such as Gabapentin for alcohol use disorder, show promising results in assisting those working to break their destructive patterns. 

How Do I Know If I Need Help? 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults should screen themselves for alcohol misuse to identify whether they are at risk. The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) is a 10-question assessment that allows you to easily see whether you or a loved one is experiencing alcohol addiction. If you know that you or a loved one needs help with alcohol addiction, your first step is to call a treatment program like Integrative Life Center. We can help you identify your underlying issues and addictions, and we can recommend tailored treatment for recovery. Unfortunately, some people who meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder avoid seeking the necessary treatment. 

How Are Drugs Used To Treat Alcohol Use Disorder?

Three medications— disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone—are FDA-approved for treating AUD, although the effectiveness of each drug varies from person to person. These medications work to discourage the person taking them from drinking alcohol, although they each operate differently. In addition, each of these drugs is: 
  • Not a cure 
  • Not an alcohol-substitution drug 
  • Not addictive or habit-forming
  • Should be prescribed in conjunction with counseling 
Disulfiram creates an unpleasant reaction whenever a person drinks alcohol, disincentivizing a person from drinking. Unfortunately, some people respond dangerously to disulfiram and may even suffer a fatal reaction to it. For this reason, it’s rarely prescribed. Always talk with your doctor before starting a new medication.  Acamprosate is still widely used today and helps some users by making alcohol less stimulating. However, not everyone sees significant benefits while taking it. Acamprosate’s mechanisms of action are still not fully understood, but it is generally considered safe to use and can help some people struggling with alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone has a similar effect on users, binding to opioid receptors in the brain and reducing the stimulation that occurs when a user drinks alcohol. Again, speak with your doctor first. While these medications each offer help to people who want to quit drinking, they do not address the difficulty of detoxification from alcohol and the accompanying withdrawal symptoms.  

Gabapentin: Another Option for AUD

Another medication showing promising results for those suffering from alcohol use disorder is Gabapentin. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant that has shown promise in addressing alcohol dependence. Where acamprosate and naltrexone modestly reduce alcohol consumption, Gabapentin has the potential to:
  • Effectively treat dependence 
  • Relieve symptoms of insomnia
  • Minimize symptoms of Dysphoria
  • Reduce alcohol cravings
This means that people can exhibit fewer symptoms when abstaining during an alcohol rehab retreat, relieving some of their burden while they work towards freedom. Gabapentin, originally developed to treat epilepsy, has proven to be safe and effective for mild alcohol withdrawal. However, it’s essential to note that it is not suitable for severe withdrawal due to the risk of seizures. According to the Cleveland Clinic of Medicine, during early abstinence from alcohol, Gabapentin stands out in its field by improving sleep, curbing cravings, and enhancing mood — critical factors tied to relapse.

How Does Gabapentin Work?

Gabapentin’s effectiveness lies in its ability to address alcohol dependence and related symptoms. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include: 
  • Insomnia and tiredness
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Aches and pains
  • Cravings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating and shaking 
In experiential therapies and treatments, Gabapentin can help to lessen the effects of withdrawal and help individuals stay sober for longer.  The potential for misuse of Gabapentin is low when it is taken in smaller, therapeutic doses by patients without a history of drug abuse. Some users may abuse it recreationally for euphoria, but it remains a valuable option when used as intended. At this point, Gabapentin is not FDA-approved to treat alcohol use disorder. 

Using Gabapentin to Break Free From AUD

ILC offers a holistic approach to alcohol addiction treatment, including pharmaceutical aides and various forms of therapy. We recognize that each individual’s journey is unique. That’s why we tailor our programs to address the specific needs of our clients.  By incorporating Gabapentin into treatment protocols for clients without a history of drug dependency, we aim to provide relief from the physical and psychological aspects of alcohol use disorder and alcohol withdrawal. Clients who qualify to use Gabapentin should still expect to work with us intensively to address the underlying traumas and motivators driving their compulsive behavior. While all the medications mentioned here offer some potential for people beginning their healing journey, none are silver bullets or “set it and forget it” solutions to alcohol use disorder. Instead, we help our clients explore their inner world in a safe environment and provide experienced guides to help them along the way. We believe that this is the best and most effective path to true healing and lasting freedom from alcohol addiction.

Your Journey to Freedom Can Start Right Now

Our evidence-based approach, combined with the monitored use of medications like Gabapentin, offers a promising avenue for recovery. For over ten years, Integrative Life Center has offered hope for people struggling with addiction to break their destructive patterns and build new ways of living, one step at a time. Medications may assist the process, but they cannot yet serve as a substitute for the journey of personal healing. Call ILC today at (615) 891-2226 to start your path toward recovery at our alcohol rehab center in Nashville, TN. 

Take the AUDIT Assessment Today

If you or a loved one is ready to take the first step toward freedom, we encourage you to complete the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) assessment. This self-assessment tool can help you understand the severity of your alcohol use and guide you toward the support you need.
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First Name*
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By checking this box you are providing your expressed written consent and willingness for ILC to call you. We will never share your information.
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