Modern medicine has developed a number of chemical medications to help ease various physical and psychological ailments. Far too often, people take for granted that these medications are safe and controlled. However, they can be dangerous. One medication that fits this mold is gabapentin. This may leave you wondering what is gabapentin ?
What is Gabapentin Used For and How Does it Work?
Gabapentin is one of a number of anticonvulsant medications. One of the ways that it is used is to ease the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome, allowing sufferers to sleep.
It is also used to block pain receptors in patients that have developed postherpetic neuralgia, or nerve pain related to shingles. However, it was originally intended for the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders and is still used for that purpose.
The next thing to know is how it works. Gabapentin reduces abnormal excitement in the brain and blocks certain pain pathways. Exactly how this happens is still unknown by scientists and medical professionals, but it is believed that gabapentin affects the balance of certain chemicals in calcium pathways.
What to Watch Out For
To fully understand what gabapentin is, you need to know what to watch out for. Like all medications, gabapentin has a number of known side effects. These effects range from very mild to very dangerous. Common side effects include:
- Muscle weakness
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Shaking or tremors
- Vision problems
- Dizziness and unsteadiness
- Mild anxiety and memory issues
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain
- Flu-like symptoms
These side effects are generally considered to be mild and should only raise concern if they persist for a long time or become severe. However, there are more serious side effects that need treatment right away. These include:
- Signs of allergic reaction such as itching, rash, and difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Swelling of the hands, feet, lips, tongue, throat, or eyes
- Aggression and agitation
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Panic attacks
Anyone experiencing these effects should seek medical treatment right away.
Gabapentin and Addiction
It is also important to understand that taking gabapentin results in a near immediate dependency. This means that suddenly reducing or stopping use can result in serious withdrawal symptoms. This dependency may also lead to an addiction disorder.
The best way to avoid this outcome is to only take gabapentin how it is prescribed and only if it is prescribed to you. Taking this medication recreationally or in a manner it was not intended is more likely to cause adverse reactions, particularly those related to mental health. If you suspect that you or a loved one has become addicted to this medication, seek professional addiction treatment right away.
With the right kind of treatment it is possible to reverse many of the damaging effects and help those addicted retake control of their lives. Help is available to those that need it the most.