Last Updated: April 25, 2023
Although gabapentin and alcohol are commonly used substances, drinking while taking gabapentin can increase your risk of side effects.
Gabapentin is the 10th most frequently prescribed medication in the U.S., prescribed to over 10.5 million Americans in 2020. Alcohol is also a commonly used substance in the U.S. For this reason, if you take gabapentin, you may wonder if it is safe to drink while on the drug.
What Is Gabapentin (Neurontin)?
Gabapentin is FDA-approved to treat partial-onset seizures and post-shingles nerve pain. Although experts aren’t sure exactly how the medication works, doctors found it helpful in treating several different medical conditions. Although classified as an anti-epileptic, it is more commonly prescribed for conditions other than epilepsy. It is often prescribed off-label for many other conditions, including:
- Diabetic nerve pain and other types of nerve pain
- Social anxiety disorder
- Mild alcohol withdrawal syndrome
Side Effects of Gabapentin
All drugs have side effects, and gabapentin is no different. Gabapentin’s common side effects include:
- Movement problems
- Involuntary eye movements
- Nausea and vomiting
Side Effects of Drinking on Gabapentin
Because both alcohol and gabapentin are central nervous system depressants, drinking can intensify gabapentin’s side effects and vice versa. For this reason, it is best to avoid drinking while taking gabapentin. Side effects can include an increased risk of intensified:
- Concentration problems
- Impaired thinking
- Problems with judgment
- Impaired motor skills and coordination
Dangers of Mixing Gabapentin With Alcohol
Because gabapentin can intensify alcohol’s side effects and vice versa, it is important to avoid hazardous activities like driving if you drink while taking gabapentin because you have an increased risk of accidents while your thinking and motor skills are impaired.
Further, it is possible to overdose on gabapentin, especially if you mix gabapentin with other substances, including alcohol. From 2019–2020, around 9.7% of overdose deaths involved gabapentin, and doctors think the drug was a factor in more than half of those overdoses. Symptoms of a gabapentin overdose include:
- Movement problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- Low blood pressure
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How Long After Taking Gabapentin Can You Drink Alcohol?
You should avoid alcohol while gabapentin is in your system, meaning if you take gabapentin regularly, you should not drink. The half-life of gabapentin is five to seven hours, which is how long it takes for half of a single dose to be removed from your system. Therefore, because it takes five half-lives to remove a drug from your body entirely, you should not drink alcohol within 35 hours, or about a day and a half, of taking gabapentin.
The time it takes a person’s body to process gabapentin can differ. Some people, especially those with kidney problems, may take longer to get the drug out of their bodies. For this reason, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist before drinking if you take gabapentin.
Are There Any Anticonvulsants That You Can Take With Alcohol?
Because all anticonvulsants are central nervous system depressants, avoiding drinking while taking them is recommended. They can intensify the side effects of alcohol and vice versa. Anticonvulsants include medications such as:
- Benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium)
- Divalproex (Depakote)
- Phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Levetiracetam (Keppra)
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
In addition, heavy alcohol use can put you at risk for seizures if you suddenly stop drinking and go into withdrawal. For this reason, if you have a history of seizures and take anti-epileptic medications, it is best to avoid drinking.
Help for Alcohol and Gabapentin Misuse
Alcohol addiction can be challenging to overcome on your own. When you also take additional substances like gabapentin, quitting can be even more difficult. At The Recovery Village Columbus, we help you every step of the way through the recovery process. From medical detox to inpatient rehab, we can help put you on the path to a substance-free life. Contact a Recovery Advocate today to learn more information.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.