Ever since the conception of pharmaceutical drugs, more and more patients receive the necessary treatment to secure their well-being. Having stated that, are the drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies undermining U.S. efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, or is that merely a myth? In this article, the author discusses how gabapentin (Neurontin), a drug utilized to treat seizures and other perplexing health issues, has become a deadly supplement amongst opioid users.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.huffingtonpost.com

Despite the campaign against the opioid epidemic in the United States, the affliction continues to be lethal. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),

over 70,000 citizens perished from overdosage in 2017, which is a 9% increase in fatalities from the prior year 2016. As the phenomenon persists, specialists project the rate of overdosing will increase annually unless the nation finds a plausible solution.

However, narcotics are not solely responsible as the abuse of prescription medication is also a significant factor in cases of drug overdoses. With the previous sentence in mind, medical practitioners often attempt to find alternatives to prescribing detrimental opioids, and gabapentin (Neurontin) is one of those substitutions.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the medicinal remedy of gabapentin for seizure patients in 1993—becoming a prescription medication later on—after discovering it could manipulate the neurons of central nervous systems inside living organisms to reduce seizures. To clarify further, humans have a central nervous system using neurons (nerve cells) to relay information across their body to register sensations, like pain, although gabapentin is capable of impairing some natural functions of the neurons. Thus, when a person suffering from seizures takes the correct dosage of gabapentin, the drug temporary alters his or her neurons, ultimately hindering the information the neurons transmit that cause seizures in the individual. Gabapentin is what researchers would describe as a miraculous prescription medication, not only because the chemical compound of gabapentin allows it to influence the role of neurons, but also due to the amusing context of researchers themselves not understanding how the process works in depth—they only know the gist of it.

For more information about the use of gabapentin in the State of Kentucky, please check out this article from the Huffington Post.

Sadly, and relatively recently, autopsies in various locations detected traces of gabapentin inside the remains of persons who expired due to overdosing, alas it is not a sheer coincidence for the prescription medication either. Studies and surveys alike emphasize drug users are consuming large doses of gabapentin to get high, even mixing gabapentin with opioids (heroin or cocaine) to enhance the effect of the opioid, although the combination is dangerous. For instance, Gabapentin can reduce a person’s tolerance to heroin, intensifying the artificial blissful feeling one would have after administering heroin to himself or herself, but also amplifying the risk of overdosing and respiratory failure. So, gabapentin is assuredly an effective prescription medication, yet also a toxic supplement when meshed with opioids.

One State experiencing the hazards of combining gabapentin with other opioids was Kentucky, where authorities discovered a staggering number of deceased individuals from heroin overdoses also had gabapentin in their systems. Not to mention, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) revealed the recreational abuse of gabapentin in Kentucky had increased by an immense 3,000 percent within ten years. On March 2017, Kentucky enacted the first legislative classifying gabapentin as a controlled substance, limiting the distribution of gabapentin as a prescription medication to the public, and other States within the Union are following suit.

A question continues to linger, what will it take to finally end the opioid epidemic, not only in the United States but across the globe? More so, when will patients reliant on pharmaceuticals finally have a method of receiving their medicine without someone, or even themselves at times, abusing it for other intentions beyond medical purposes?

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