Gabapentin and hydrocodone are both prescription medications used to treat ailments like pain and seizures. Specifically, gabapentin is used to treat seizure disorders and nerve pain. It’s often mixed with other medications, such as opioids, to effectively manage patients’ symptoms. Although it’s safe to take gabapentin with certain medications, the question is: can you take gabapentin with hydrocodone? Our Massachusetts treatment center is looking into the dangers of this combination and why it’s important to keep track of your medications.
Gabapentin vs. Hydrocodone: What Are They?
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat seizures in patients with epilepsy or other similar disorders. Some forms of gabapentin are also used to treat restless leg syndrome (RLS) and nerve pain.
Gabapentin is believed to work by altering nerve activity in the central nervous system to promote relaxation and prevent symptoms related to overactivity, such as seizures. Specifically, it influences chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which nerve cells use to communicate with each other.
Other brand names for gabapentin include Horizant, Gralise, and Neurontin. It’s legally available through prescription as either a capsule, tablet, or liquid form.
Hydrocodone is a narcotic or painkiller that’s part of a drug class called opiate analgesics. These are medications that are predominantly used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is only prescribed to people who need medication to alleviate severe pain around-the-clock for an extended period and who have become tolerant to other similar medications. Because opioids are highly addictive, physicians are especially careful about who they prescribe them and how much they prescribe.
Hydrocodone is prescribed as an extended-release capsule or tablet, usually only once a day because their side effects last 12 to 14 hours. Like other drugs of its class, hydrocodone works by altering neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, to produce pain relief.
A common risk of taking opioids long-term, however, is dependence and addiction. Opioids have a high potential for abuse, so it’s imperative never to take a higher dose than prescribed or to mix them with other substances unless directed by your doctor.
Can You Take Gabapentin and Hydrocodone Together?
Some doctors may prescribe gabapentin with hydrocodone to treat patients with severe symptoms. But can you take gabapentin with hydrocodone on your own? No.
Unless your doctor has prescribed these medications and directed you to take them together, you should not take hydrocodone with gabapentin. Physicians always consider various factors before prescribing their patients any medications, including their weight, age, underlying health conditions, and their use of any other medications.
This allows them to prescribe a safe and effective combination of medications and make any adjustments as needed. Without a physician’s direction, your dependence, addiction, and overdose risks increase if you take these together.
Side Effects of Taking Gabapentin and Hydrocodone Together
Studies have shown that taking gabapentin and hydrocodone together can be dangerous because the individual risk of opioid-related death increases. One particular study found that the co-prescription of opioids and gabapentin increased participants’ odds of opioid-related mortality by 60%.1
Both gabapentin and hydrocodone have a depressing or sedative effect on the central nervous system. Their ultimate goals are to reduce nerve activity and slow the brain down.
So while it is common to co-prescribe gabapentin with opioids like hydrocodone, the combination has an increased risk of respiratory depression, sedation, abuse, and addiction. The combination can also impact the effectiveness of either drug.
For instance, the combination has been shown to impair hydrocodone’s action in the body. For a person who suffers from severe pain, this can be distressing.
Naturally, patients who don’t experience relief may increase their dose of hydrocodone in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms, further increasing their risk of overdose and addiction.
Possible side effects of taking gabapentin with hydrocodone include:
- Impaired judgment
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slowed reaction speed
- Impaired motor coordination and movement
When taken together without a doctor’s recommendation, taking gabapentin with hydrocodone can result in an overdose. This is when a person takes more drugs than their body can process at a time.
The most common and deadliest symptom of a depressant overdose is respiratory depression or shallow and ineffective breathing. Although immediate medical assistance can save the person’s life, those with addictions may experience more than one overdose, increasing their likelihood of suffering brain damage.
Long-term misuse of this combination also increases your chances of developing physical dependence and addiction. Drug addiction can severely impact all areas of your life, including your finances, career, and relationships.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment for Depressant Abuse
Although gabapentin isn’t as potent or dangerous as opioids, taking it with an opioid can become dangerous without the guidance of a physician. Drug combinations are often prescribed under careful consideration of various other factors and should not be done on your own.
If you find yourself addicted to your prescription drugs or have a loved one who is, we can help. Our inpatient drug rehab in Massachusetts offers a multi-step approach to treating addiction, starting from the source.
Starting with medically monitored detox to individual and group therapy options, we work with our patients through every step of their treatment to ensure they’re safe and progressing. Don’t wait any longer to get help.
If you’re interested in learning more about our prescription drug addiction treatment or other addiction services, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 to speak to a specialist about the admissions process and how you can get started.