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Can You Drink Alcohol with Gabapentin?


Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 2/01/2023

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant that’s used to control seizures. In some cases, it’s also used to assist in relieving persistent nerve pain associated with alcohol withdrawal and other illnesses like herpes. Gabapentin also belongs to its own class of painkillers, which are classified as Gabapentinoids.

There are also a handful of brand names that gabapentin is sold under. The Gralise brand is intended to help with neuropathic pain but is not suggested for epilepsy. On the other hand, the Horizant brand is intended for nerve pain and RLS. There is also a Neurontin brand that targets seizures and neuropathic pain. 

Despite the different brands, gabapentin is intended to reduce brain activity associated with medical conditions such as seizures and nerve pain. While gabapentin is commonly used as a painkiller, it’s become popular for alcohol withdrawal because of the seizure-like symptoms that alcohol withdrawal creates.

What Are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Gabapentin?

Gabapentin and Alcohol both act as depressants for the central nervous system (CNS). CNS depressants can cause the respiratory system to slow down, which results in an oxygen deficiency. When taken in combination the effects of both can be amplified.

Some of the most common side effects of gabapentin that can become amplified with alcohol are unsteadiness, drowsiness, and low energy/fatigue. Severe side effects and reactions (respiratory depression) can also become a concern when mixing alcohol and gabapentin. Serious side effects are more likely to occur in individuals with a history of respiratory problems.

Does Gabapentin Affect the Taste of Alcohol?

There is no evidence to support that gabapentin affects the taste of Alcohol. However, based on the form of gabapentin taken (pills, capsules, or liquid) there is the potential for a slight aftertaste. 

That said, once the aftertaste is gone, gabapentin will no longer affect the taste of alcohol. Additionally, the liquid form of gabapentin is more likely to affect the taste of alcohol than the pill or capsule versions.

Does Gabapentin Affect the Effect of Alcohol?

Alcohol and gabapentin are both central nervous system depressants. When CNS depressants are mixed, the side effects of both substances become amplified. Therefore, the intoxicating effects of alcohol become worse and the side effects of gabapentin become worse. 

When taking CNS depressants with alcohol there is also an increased risk of alcohol poisoning. More severe side effects such as seizures, hypertension, and tachycardia also have an increased chance of occurring. People who combine gabapentin and alcohol also report that the drunkness caused by alcohol is more intense.

Can Mixture of Alcohol and Gabapentin Lead to Death?

Yes, the mixture of alcohol and gabapentin can lead to death. Alcohol and gabapentin are substances that slow down the nervous system, which slows down breathing. When mixed, a person’s breathing can stop or become too infrequent. If these breathing problems occur people can lose consciousness, enter into comas, or die. 

The risk of alcohol poisoning is also increased when mixing alcohol and gabapentin. Alcohol-related death statistics suggest that alcohol poisoning is deadly when not treated immediately.

Who should Not Take Alcohol and Gabapentin?

While no one should take Alcohol with gabapentin due to the potential side effects, some people are more at risk for severe side effects. One example is people who have a history of breathing problems like COPD. Because gabapentin and alcohol slow down the respiratory system, conditions like COPD can become deadly when alcohol and gabapentin are combined.

Individuals who take other medications should also avoid mixing alcohol with gabapentin. In fact, mixing alcohol with any medication can be dangerous. For this reason, it’s important to consult with a doctor before mixing alcohol and medications like gabapentin.

Can I take Gabapentin with Alcohol While Pregnant?

No, you can’t take gabapentin with alcohol while pregnant. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy is associated with risks to both the mother and the child. One result of mixing alcohol with gabapentin during pregnancy is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can cause life-long health and developmental problems.

While there is no evidence to suggest that gabapentin (without alcohol) can harm an unborn baby, you should not take gabapentin while pregnant without consulting a doctor. Additionally, gabapentin can be passed into breast milk, therefore those who are breastfeeding should consult a doctor before taking gabapentin. 

Are all Types of Alcohol Harmful with Gabapentin? 

Yes, all types of alcohol are harmful when taken with gabapentin. Due to the depressive nature of each drug, the side effects of alcohol and gabapentin become worse when combined. The mixture of alcohol and gabapentin increases the risk of amplified effects of each, such as impairment and the chance of life-threatening breathing problems. 

Keep in mind that some types of alcohol can be more dangerous than others. This is because liquor has a higher alcohol percentage than beer and wine. The higher ABV makes it easier to get drunk faster, which increases the risk of harmful side effects.

While one beer or glass of wine might not be harmful when consumed with gabapentin, a few shots of liquor like whiskey can become dangerous.

How Much Gabapentin Can Be Dangerous to Take with Alcohol?

The average daily dosage of gabapentin is about 900mg. People with a prescription for gabapentin typically take it three times per day. Therefore, the average dose of gabapentin is about 300 milligrams. While 300 milligrams is an average dose of gabapentin, it’s dangerous to mix with alcohol.

Some people may also take up to 1,800 milligrams of gabapentin per day. In these cases, consuming alcohol can lead to serious side effects and even death. Due to the possible side effects, alcohol should be avoided while taking gabapentin. Always consult with a doctor before mixing alcohol and gabapentin.

Does Alcohol Affect How Well Gabapentin will Work?

There is no evidence to support that alcohol will affect the effectiveness of gabapentin. However, it is not recommended to take alcohol and gabapentin due to the risks. The increased risk of side effects can also make the combination dangerous. In fact, some side effects can make the conditions that gabapentin is designed to treat more severe. 

So, in some ways alcohol can affect the effectiveness of gabapentin. Still, these are only in rare cases. So, it’s a case-by-case basis.

How Long After Taking Gabapentin Can You Drink Alcohol?

With a half-life of about 7 hours, it takes between 24 and 48 hours for the body to remove gabapentin from the bloodstream. So, you can drink alcohol in about 24 hours after your last dose of gabapentin. Some factors make it more appropriate to wait for up to 48 hours. These factors include body size, how long gabapentin has been taken, and the dosage of gabapentin taken.

In general, alcohol should not be consumed while taking gabapentin due to the possibility of adverse side effects. Most people start taking gabapentin at a low dosage but it takes time to find a stable dosage. Once a stable dosage has been reached you can talk to your doctor about consuming alcohol in moderation alongside the medication. 

Additionally, you should not skip doses or stop taking gabapentin suddenly as it can pose several risk factors, especially to those using it to help control seizures.

How Effective is Gabapentin for Alcoholism?

Gabapentin is effective for treating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. While it doesn’t cure someone of alcoholism, it can make the withdrawal process more comfortable. In fact, recent research shows that gabapentin is effective in helping to reduce cravings, depression, and sleeplessness that are associated with alcohol withdrawal. 

Gabapentin can also control seizures that can happen when someone experiences delirium tremens, which occur in about 1% of alcohol withdrawal cases. Delirium tremens are seizures that can result in death when not treated by a seizure medication like gabapentin.

Can You Use Gabapentin for Alcohol Withdrawal?

Yes, you can use gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal. Gabapentin has started to become a popular medication for alcohol withdrawal because of its seizure-treating properties.

Alcohol withdrawal begins as fast as 6 hours after the last ingestion of alcohol. The side effects of alcohol withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. Alcohol withdrawal can also lead to more severe side effects such as hallucinations, hypertension, tachycardia, and even seizures. 

Currently, there is no evidence that gabapentin works more effectively than other drugs used to aid in alcohol withdrawal. For this reason, it’s not prescribed as much as Naltrexone, Antabuse, and other alcohol withdrawal medications.

What Are Other Drugs That Are Dangerous To Use with Alcohol?

Mixing drugs with alcohol can cause several dangerous reactions. Some reactions between alcohol and drugs can even lead to death. 

While there are a large number of drugs that should not be taken with alcohol, some of the most dangerous drugs to use with alcohol are listed below. 

These are only a handful of the drugs and medications that are dangerous to use with alcohol. Always speak with your doctor before mixing alcohol with drugs or medication. While gabapentin is a safe medication, when taken with alcohol it becomes a dangerous medication.