What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a medication used to treat nerve pain that’s not otherwise well-managed by regular pain medicines. The drug is also known by brand names, including Neurontin. When a person takes gabapentin, it alters how their nerves send messages to the brain. When a nerve isn’t working correctly or something presses on it, your brain may receive false messages. Your brain thinks your body is being hurt, even though it’s not. Since gabapentin is thought to affect how nerves function, it can reduce pain in certain situations. The medicine helps with epilepsy by calming nerve activity. 

Off-label uses for gabapentin include treating hot flashes, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, alcohol withdrawal, migraines, social phobia, post-traumatic stress and other conditions. The drug is sometimes prescribed as an alternative to opioids.

Is Gabapentin a Controlled Substance in Ohio?

Under a federal law known as the Controlled Substances Act, all substances regulated under current federal law are put into one of five schedules. The scheduling at the federal level is based on the medical uses for a substance, the potential for abuse and dependence and safety risks. States can also enact their controlled substance laws. 

Currently, gabapentin is not a controlled substance in Ohio. For the past couple of years, there has been ongoing discussion by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy about whether or not to make gabapentin a controlled substance. This is due to emerging patterns showing gabapentin abuse. 

States That Classify Gabapentin as a Controlled Substance

Over the past five years, gabapentin has found its way to controlled substance lists in seven states. Twelve other states in the same period have put gabapentin in their prescription drug monitoring programs. The drug is the sixth most prescribed in the country, and many uses are off-label. States where gabapentin is a controlled substance include:

  • North Dakota
  • Michigan
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Alabama

Who Can Prescribe Gabapentin in Ohio?

Anyone who can prescribe medicines can prescribe gabapentin since it isn’t a controlled substance in Ohio. However, as of December 2016, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy requires prescribers, pharmacies and wholesalers to report when they dispense, provide or sell all products containing gabapentin to the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS). There is no requirement for prescribers or pharmacists to request or review an OARRS report before dispensing or prescribing gabapentin. Prescribers and pharmacists are expected to use their professional judgment to determine their need to request an OARRS report before dispensing or prescribing the medication.

Get Help for Gabapentin Addiction in Ohio

Gabapentin is illicitly used to enhance highs and reduce withdrawal symptoms in people with opioid use disorders. Gabapentin can release neurotransmitters that affect the dopamine reward system, which plays a role in addiction. When used along with opioids, gabapentin can cause euphoria, potentially contributing to abuse. There’s also evidence that taking gabapentin with opioids increases the overdose risk because of the central nervous system and respiratory depression they both create.

Signs of gabapentin addiction can include using someone else’s prescription, combining it with other substances like opioids, alcohol or benzodiazepines and using larger doses. If someone uses gabapentin for effects like euphoria or enhancing a high, it can be a sign of misuse.

Addiction treatment for gabapentin is available. If you’d like to discuss treatment options for yourself or a loved one, we encourage you to contact us at The Recovery Village Columbus.

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
Danielle-Boland
Medically Reviewed By – Danielle Boland
Danielle is licensed clinical social worker, currently living and practicing in central Connecticut. Read more
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Yasaei, Rama, Katta, Shravan, Saadabadi, Abdolreza. “Gabapentin.” NIH National Library of Medicine, May 2, 2022. Accessed August 24, 2022.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “The Controlled Substances Act.” Accessed August 24, 2022.

Collins, Sonya. “More states make gabapentin a Schedule V[…]ontrolled Substance.” Pharmacy Today, October 1, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Shaw, Gina. “Should Gabapentin Be a Controlled Substance?” NeurologyToday, April 21, 2022. Accessed August 24, 2022.

State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. “Reporting Gabapentin Products to OAARS.” July 13, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Plinke, Eric J., Zinsmaster, Daniel S. and Persinger, Sarah C. PharmD, RPh. “Effective, Dec. 1, Pharmacies, Prescribe[…] Rx Reporting System.” The National Law Review, December 12, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Althobaiti, Yusuf S., et al. “Gabapentin-induced drug-seeking-like beh[…]dopaminergic system.” Scientific Reports, 2020. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.