Gabapentin prescribed during substance abuse treatment: The perspective of treatment providers

Mance E. Buttram, Steven P. Kurtz, Matthew S. Ellis, Theodore J. Cicero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Background: Gabapentin, a prescription medication approved for the treatment of seizures and neuralgia, is often prescribed off-label for substance use treatment, mental health problems, and pain. Emerging reports also suggest it is misused for the purpose of getting high. The present study examines substance abuse treatment provider key informants' experiences with gabapentin prescribed to clients in treatment. The focus of this exploratory study is to ascertain how gabapentin is used in these settings and the benefits and risks for clients. Methods: Key informants from South Florida participated in confidential, in-depth interviews (N = 12). Data analyses included descriptive and in vivo coding schemes and employed a descriptive qualitative approach. Results: All key informants recognized the benefits of prescribing gabapentin to clients in treatment for problems related to withdrawal symptoms, mental distress and pain. At the same time, half of participants described gabapentin misuse among clients and four key informants described such misuse as a first marker of relapse. Key informants also stated that more research must be done about how to use gabapentin effectively in treatment settings. Conclusions: These findings illustrate the lack of clarity about the efficacy of administration of gabapentin in treatment settings. Additional research about how to best use gabapentin, for whom it may be beneficial, and the effect of prescribed gabapentin on addiction recovery is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Gabapentin
  • Misuse
  • Qualitative
  • Substance abuse treatment

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