Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 87, Issue 4, pp 763–767 | Cite as

Abuse of Gabapentin is Associated with Opioid Addiction

  • Leo Bastiaens
  • James Galus
  • Cherise Mazur
Original Paper


The objective of this study was to evaluate the extent of gabapentin misuse in a dually diagnosed correctional population, and to evaluate if this abuse is specific to the presence of an opioid use disorder (OUD). Two-hundred and fifty former inmates, living in a correctional community center, who were referred for a psychiatric evaluation, were asked, through a brief written questionnaire, whether or not they used the following drugs for non-medical use in the past: opiates, gabapentin, buproprion, quetiapine, and fluoxetine. The average age of this population was 37.2 ± 12.1 years (n = 250). Sixty-four percent were male, 72 % were white, 27 % were black, and 1 % was Hispanic. All patients had substance use disorders, the large majority (72 %) to more than one substance. Fifty-eight percent had an opioid use disorder, again mostly in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol. Depressive disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were the most common psychiatric conditions. Sixty-two percent of patients reported prescription drug misuse of any kind. As expected, a high percent (55 %) reported opiate misuse. No patient reported fluoxetine misuse. Sixteen percent reported having misused gabapentin in the past. Of patients with an opioid use disorder (OUD: n = 145), 26 % endorsed gabapentin abuse while only 4 % of patients without an OUD (n = 105) endorsed the non-medical use of gabapentin. This difference was highly statistically significant (Chi square χ2 = 21.6, p < 0.0001). A growing concern about gabapentin misuse was supported in this study: 26 percent of opiate addicted patients reported illegally obtaining, overusing, or malingering problems to obtain gabapentin. This study highlights the fact that gabapentin abuse appears specific to an opioid addicted population.


Gabapentin abuse Opioid addiction Correctional population 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Leo Bastiaens, James Galus and Cherise Mazur declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Renewal Treatment Inc.PittsburghUSA

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