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Moderate Anxiety, Moderate Severe Anxiety, Psychiatry & Medication, Severe Anxiety

Gabapentin and Alcohol

 September 11, 2020

By  Natalie Kirilova

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The Bottom Line

  • Gabapentin is FDA-approved to treat partial seizures and nerve pain caused by shingles infections.
  • It may be prescribed off-label for anxiety treatment.
  • Available in tablets and as a generic, Neurontin.
  • It is contraindicated to mix Gabapentin and alcohol.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a medication from the anticonvulsant class. It is used to treat partial seizures, and pain caused by shingles. A doctor may occasionally prescribe it off-label for certain mental health conditions such as anxiety or bipolar disorder. It is also occasionally used for insomnia, hot flashes, and restless leg syndrome.

This medication is believed to affect certain neurotransmitters in the brain and decrease sensitivity to pain.

It is available in tablets. It fits short-term applications, however, a doctor may use it long-term if benefits prevail the risks.

What conditions is Gabapentin taken for?

The medication is used for are seizures, postherpetic neuralgia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, hot flashes, restless leg syndrome as well as insomnia.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Gabapentin?

It is not advised to mix Gabapentin and alcohol. Take the medication only as directed by your doctor.

Is there an interaction between Gabapentin and alcohol?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication for partial seizures and nerve pain caused by shingles infections in adults and children. It works by decreasing sensitivity to pain when prescribed for postherpetic neuralgia, and by affecting low levels of calcium when prescribed to treat seizures. While relatively safe to take as directed by the doctor, some interactions with this medication may cause severe side effects. Taking Gabapentin and alcohol in combination should be avoided.

Alcohol is a sedative with a variety of effects. It has the potential for altering mental processes. The effects of alcohol resemble medications used to produce sleepiness for surgery, and it works very quickly. In small doses, Gabapentin and alcohol produce sedation, while their excessive consumption may lead to abuse and dependence. In some individuals, excessive consumption of alcohol may lead to several persisting side effects including:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures

Taking Gabapentin and alcohol together may increase the risk of experiencing nervous system side effects, as well as impaired thinking and judgment. Among other potential dangers of combined Gabapentin and alcohol consumption are:

Intoxication. 

Mixing Gabapentin and alcohol may lead to extreme intoxication. An individual may lose concentration, experience dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea, among others. Incidents of choking on vomit may occur.

Blackouts. 

Taking Gabapentin and alcohol in high doses may lead to memory loss and poor alertness. An individual may faint or be unable to remember long-term memories.

Overdose. 

Overdose incidents have been reported when mixing Gabapentin and alcohol. Both substances may slow breathing and lower heart rate. A combination of Gabapentin and alcohol in high doses may be deadly.

Mood changes. 

Gabapentin and alcohol in combination may lead to uncontrolled behaviors, where an individual exposes himself to dangerous activities.

Suicidal thinking.

Gabapentin and alcohol may increase the risk of suicidal thinking. The use of this medication alone is already linked to such risk, so taking Gabapentin and alcohol together can be extremely dangerous.

Injuries. 

Gabapentin and alcohol in combination produce extreme sedation, decrease motor control, and increase risk of falling.

Doctors advise to abstain from combining Gabapentin and alcohol. When using both substances, they may alter or enhance the effects of each other. 

You should only take this medication as directed by the doctor. Gabapentin and alcohol should not be mixed.

Can Gabapentin be taken for Anxiety?

A doctor may prescribe it off-label to treat anxiety disorder if no other first-line medications have been effective or have caused severe side effects. It may be used for anxiety symptoms caused by bipolar disorder. Normal anxiety does not require the prescription of this medication, as other modalities are available to affect it. 

Is Gabapentin FDA approved for anxiety?

Gabapentin is not approved for anxiety by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is FDA approved only to treat postherpetic neuralgia and control partial seizures in both adults and children.

Can Gabapentin be taken for Depression?

It is not usually prescribed to treat depression. Other modalities are available to treat this mental health condition.

Is Gabapentin FDA approved for depression?

It is not FDA-approved for depression. Other modalities are available to treat this mental health condition.

What research supports Gabapentin for anxiety?

  • Gabapentin was studied for efficacy in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) treatment. A 59-year-old female with GAD and major depressive disorder (MDD) was psychiatrically hospitalized where she was administered with Gabapentin 600-900 mg doses daily for 10 months. After a 10 month follow-up, she showed significant remission of anxiety symptoms with 900 mg doses.
  • Gabapentin was studied against a placebo for social anxiety disorder treatment. 69 subjects were divided into two groups, the first group took Gabapentin 3600 mg/daily, the second group took the placebo for 14 weeks. The results demonstrated that the medication reduced anxiety scores by 27 points with the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS), compared to 12 points in the placebo group.
  • Gabapentin was studied for anxiety reduction before surgery. 40 subjects were randomly assigned to Gabapentin 1200 mg or placebo 1-2 hours before the surgery. The results demonstrated that the Gabapentin-group had lower anxiety scores than the placebo. 

What do experts say about Gabapentin for anxiety?

Andrew Saxon, M.D., chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry says “Non-pain related conditions like anxiety and alcohol withdrawal can benefit from gabapentin.”

What are the possible side effects of Gabapentin?

Like any medication, it may cause side effects including:

  • dizziness;
  • drowsiness;
  • ataxia;
  • Fatigue;
  • headache.

Mixing Gabapentin and alcohol may lead to:

  • intoxication;
  • impaired alertness, consciousness;
  • blackouts;
  • mood changes;
  • increased suicidal thinking.

The full list of side effects and their severity depends on the individual patient’s medical history as well as a treatment regimen. Gabapentin and alcohol overdose incidents have been reported.

Always speak to your doctor if you experience side effects when taking this medication.

Can you take Gabapentin while pregnant or breastfeeding?

This medication is not recommended for use in pregnant and nursing mothers. It may harm the fetus and excrete into milk.

Speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing, as safer modalities are available for you.

Can children take Gabapentin?

It may be prescribed for use in children to treat seizures who are at least 3 years old.

How to take Gabapentin? 

The dosage is tailored individually. Speak to the doctor if you decide that treatment with this medication may be for you. 

The initial dosage is 300 mg. It may be doubled on the second day and tripled on the third day until the therapeutic effect is achieved. Take it as directed by the doctor. Do not increase the dosage. 

If you believe you have overdosed, seek emergency help immediately (call 911).

Are there alternatives to Gabapentin? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Gabapentin for Anxiety 

Gabapentin is a medication prescribed to treat seizures and pain in adults and children. A doctor may occasionally prescribe it off-label for anxiety. Speak to the doctor about other prescription medications that may be a good fit for you. Other modalities are available including:

  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Buspirone
  • Xanax
  • Inderal
  • Cymbalta
  • Tofranil
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Gabapentin, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Gabapentin

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Gabapentin

Learn more about different energy & holistics modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Gabapentin

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


Natalie is a writer with a focus in medical research with over 10 years of experience

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