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Abuse of Gabapentin is Associated with Opioid Addiction


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.

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Correspondence to Leo Bastiaens.

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Leo Bastiaens, James Galus and Cherise Mazur declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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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.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Bastiaens, L., Galus, J. & Mazur, C. Abuse of Gabapentin is Associated with Opioid Addiction. Psychiatr Q 87, 763–767 (2016).

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  • Gabapentin abuse
  • Opioid addiction
  • Correctional population