Is it safe to take Suboxone® + anticonvulsants?

Understand the risks of taking Suboxone with anticonvulsants like gabapentin. Learn about interactions and safety considerations for managing addiction effectively.

Ophelia team
Anticonvulsant medications and Suboxone
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Fact checked by
Mena Soliman, NP

Before starting any new medication, patients need to understand how that drug interacts with any other medications they already use. Adverse drug interactions can make one or both drugs less effective and may be life-threatening. 

Because of these interactions, patients using Suboxone® must avoid certain medications and substances, including sedating antihistamines, alcohol, and benzodiazepines (important safety information). Can Suboxone users take anticonvulsants, like gabapentin? In this guide, we’ll explore how these two drugs interact and whether it’s safe to use both at the same time.

What are anticonvulsants?

Anticonvulsants are a group of drugs that are primarily used to prevent seizures and convulsions. Studies also show they can be used to treat some mental health conditions, like anxiety and bipolar disorder. Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved anticonvulsants for those purposes. 

Gabapentin is one commonly prescribed anticonvulsant medication. Patients can take gabapentin as oral tablets, capsules, or solutions. It’s available in generic forms and under the brand names Neurontin®, Horizant®, and Gralise®.

How do anticonvulsants work?

Seizures occur when a person’s body sends an abnormal burst of electrical activity between neurons. Anticonvulsants combat seizures by altering this electrical activity in several ways. Primarily, the anticonvulsant impacts ion channels that mediate the electrical signaling in the brain. They may also increase neurotransmitter activity to further combat seizures. 

Another treatment option for patients experiencing seizures is Levetiracetam (Keppra, Keppra XR, Elepsia XR, and Spritam). This anti-seizure medicine is oral and may help decrease the number of experienced seizures. Other solutions include benzodiazepines, such as Xanax® or Klonopin®. Like gabapentin, benzodiazepines affect the ionic channels in the central nervous system to combat seizures.

Patients who cannot or do not want to use benzodiazepines to treat their seizures should talk to their doctors about gabapentin as an alternative. One key difference between these two types of drugs is that benzodiazepines bind to GABA receptors in the brain, and gabapentin does not. 

Side effects of anticonvulsants

Like any medication, anticonvulsants have some potential side effects. These side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Changes in mood or cognition
  • Nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Weight change

Some patients experience more severe side effects of anticonvulsants, such as liver failure and psychosis. If you see signs of severe side effects while taking anticonvulsants, immediately seek emergency medical care. Even with less severe side effects, talking to your care team about your experience is worthwhile. Your medical professionals may be able to adjust your medication to lessen these symptoms. 

Can you take gabapentin with Suboxone?

People with a history of seizure disorders or who are going through withdrawals may experience a greater risk of seizures while on Suboxone. It’s logical to wonder whether you can take gabapentin to counteract that increased risk and treat seizures if they occur. 

Doctors also prescribe gabapentin off-label to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) and alcohol addiction. Though the FDA has not approved gabapentin for this purpose, doctors can take advantage of the drug’s calming effect to help those going through the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Considering Suboxone is also used to treat OUD, patients and medical providers alike need to understand how Suboxone interacts with other drugs, like gabapentin. 

Taking Suboxone with gabapentin is risky since they are both central nervous system depressants. If a patient takes both gabapentin and Suboxone, that can depress the central nervous system excessively. In turn, the depressed nervous system can lead to severe side effects, like decreased heart rate, lethargy, and slowed breathing. At their most extreme, these side effects can be life-threatening. 

Never mix medications without first consulting your doctor, and always inform your care team of current prescriptions when considering a new medication. Only take gabapentin and Suboxone together under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

Comprehensive addiction care from Ophelia

Managing all the aspects of your addiction care isn’t easy. You have to make sure you abide by all the restrictions, keep up with your treatment regimen, and handle the emotional challenges that come with treating OUD. Ophelia is here to provide the support you need on your treatment journey.

As an online addiction treatment provider, Ophelia works with you to ensure you have the best, most personalized care plan. You don’t even need to leave your home—we bring the gold standard of treatment right to you. If you qualify for Suboxone, we’ll send your prescription to your local pharmacy, and your care team will discuss any possible drug interactions that could affect you while on Suboxone, including gabapentin. 

Find out if you’re a candidate with a quick five-minute questionnaire to get started. 


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