The objective of this study was to evaluate the extent of gabapentin misuse in a dually diagnosed correctional population, and to evaluate if this abuse is specific to the presence of an opioid use disorder (OUD). Two-hundred and fifty former inmates, living in a correctional community center, who were referred for a psychiatric evaluation, were asked, through a brief written questionnaire, whether or not they used the following drugs for non-medical use in the past: opiates, gabapentin, buproprion, quetiapine, and fluoxetine. The average age of this population was 37.2 ± 12.1 years (n = 250). Sixty-four percent were male, 72 % were white, 27 % were black, and 1 % was Hispanic. All patients had substance use disorders, the large majority (72 %) to more than one substance. Fifty-eight percent had an opioid use disorder, again mostly in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol. Depressive disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were the most common psychiatric conditions. Sixty-two percent of patients reported prescription drug misuse of any kind. As expected, a high percent (55 %) reported opiate misuse. No patient reported fluoxetine misuse. Sixteen percent reported having misused gabapentin in the past. Of patients with an opioid use disorder (OUD: n = 145), 26 % endorsed gabapentin abuse while only 4 % of patients without an OUD (n = 105) endorsed the non-medical use of gabapentin. This difference was highly statistically significant (Chi square χ2 = 21.6, p < 0.0001). A growing concern about gabapentin misuse was supported in this study: 26 percent of opiate addicted patients reported illegally obtaining, overusing, or malingering problems to obtain gabapentin. This study highlights the fact that gabapentin abuse appears specific to an opioid addicted population.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Volkow ND: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/director, 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vital Signs: Overdoses of prescription opioid pain relievers—United States, 1999–2008. www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6043a4.htm, 2011.
McCabe SE, Boyd CJ, Teter CJ: Subtypes of nonmedical prescription drug misuse. Drug Alcohol Depend 102:63–70, 2009.
McCabe SE, Teter CJ, Boyd CJ: Medical use, illicit use, and diversion of abusable prescription drugs. Journal of American College Health 54:269–278, 2006.
Reeves RR, Burke RS: Abuse of combinations of gabapentin and quetiapine. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders 16(5):11, 2014.
Smith BH, Higgins C, Baldacchino A, et al.: Substance misuse of gabapentin. British Journal of General Practice 62:406–407, 2012.
Reccoppa L, Malcolm R, Ware M: Gabapentin abuse in inmates with prior history of cocaine dependence. American Journal on Addictions 13:321–323, 2004.
Del Paggio D: Psychotropic medication abuse in correctional facilities. http://www.acbhcs.org/Psychopharmacology/2005/June2005.pdf, 2005.
Reeves RR, Ladner ME: Additional evidence of the abuse potential of bupropion. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology 33:584–585, 2013.
Hilliard WT, Barloon L, Farley P, et al.: Bupropion diversion and misuse in the correctional facility. Journal of Correctional Health Care 19:211–217, 2013.
Wilens T, Zulauf C, Ryland D, et al.: Prescription medication misuse among opioid dependent patients seeking inpatient detoxification. The American Journal on Addictions. doi:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2014.12159.x, 2014.
Baird CRW, Fox P, Colvin LA: Gabapentinoid abuse in order to potentiate the effect of methadone: A survey among substance misusers. European Addiction Research 20:115–118, 2014.
Bozikas V, Petrikis P, Gamvrula K, et al.: Treatment of alcohol withdrawal with gabapentin. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 26:197–199, 2002.
Pande AC, Crockatt JG, Janney.A, et al.: Gabapentin in bipolar disorder: A placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive therapy. Bipolar Disorders 2:249–255, 2000.
Pande AC, Pollack MH, Crockatt J, et al.: Placebo-controlled study of gabapentin treatment of panic disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 20:467–471, 2000.
Pande AC, Davidson JRT, Jefferson, JW: Treatment of social phobia with gabapentin: A placebo-controlled study Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 19: 341–348, 1999.
Karam-Hage M, Brower KJ: Gabapentin treatment for insomnia associated with alcohol dependence. American Journal of Psychiatry. 157:151, 2000.
Rocha L, Ondarza-Rovira R, Maidment NT: Gabapentin modifies extracellular opioid peptide content in amygdala: A microdialysis study. Epilepsy Research 35:13–20, 1999.
Koob GF, Volkow ND: Neurocircuitry of addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology 35:217–238, 2010.
Conflict of interest
Leo Bastiaens, James Galus and Cherise Mazur declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Bastiaens, L., Galus, J. & Mazur, C. Abuse of Gabapentin is Associated with Opioid Addiction. Psychiatr Q 87, 763–767 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-016-9421-7
- Gabapentin abuse
- Opioid addiction
- Correctional population