Gabapentin and Alcohol

by on May 15, 2012

Patients wishing to drink alcohol while on gabapentin treatment should first consult their healthcare provider. It is quite difficult to predict the possible effects of combining alcohol and gabapentin. People react may react differently to this combination, so the decision should be made on an individualized basis.

The manufacturers of gabapentin do not recommend drinking alcohol, as well as other substances or medications that make you dizzy or sleepy, while taking gabapentin.

Potential Gabapentin-Alcohol Side Effects

Consuming alcohol may increase the risk for certain side effects of gabapentin (Neurontin) such as:

  • coordination problems
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • feeling of tiredness
  • dizziness

In the same way, gabapentin may also increase your sensitivity to the effects of alcohol such as dry mouth, blurred vision, drowsiness, dizziness and memory problems.

Patients who have just started taking gabapentin are highly advised to avoid drinking alcohol until the specific side effects of gabapentin are known. Alcohol side effects can mimic, even intensify, those of gabapentin making it difficult to diagnose potentially adverse effects. It is also possible that patients taking gabapentin may not be able to tolerate the average amount of alcohol they usually drink. If you are drinking for the first time after starting medication, you should drink lightly until the tolerable alcohol amount is determined.

In some patients, combining alcohol and gabapentin can cause alcohol intolerance or unpleasant reaction to alcohol. This condition is often characterized by headache, flushing, redness of the face, and palpitations.

Older Patients

For older adults, combining gabapentin and alcohol may be dangerous, as such are strongly advised to avoid drinking alcohol throughout the treatment. Usually, elderly people are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol as well as its potential interaction with gabapentin. Furthermore, falls (due to dizziness, problems in coordination, or passing out) are more dangerous in these special population. Majority of these older individuals have brittle bones hence the risk for injury is greater.

Other Considerations

Patients who have history of anxiety disorder are also cautioned against the potential effect of alcohol and gabapentin. Both of these substances can trigger anxiety and panic attack hence these patients are at increased risk of suffering from a relapse.

Patients who are taking multiple drugs aside from gabapentin are at an increased risk of experiencing adverse drug interactions therefore are recommended to avoid alcohol.

On the other hand, patients who have been taking gabapentin for a relatively long time and have become accustomed to its effects or patients who are taking low dose gabapentin may be able to safely consume small amounts of alcohol. Perhaps, occasional cocktail would not cause serious problems in these patients.

It is important to note that combining alcohol and gabapentin (Neurontin) may be safe for some patients but not to everyone. If you decide to consume alcohol while taking this medication, start it off lightly to determine its possible effects on you. Most importantly, feel free to discuss with your healthcare provider any concerns about your alcohol consumption. He or she is in the best position to give you guidance and recommendation.