Misuse Increases for Gabapentin and Baclofen, Used to Treat Chronic Pain

prescription pill bottles

The drugs gabapentin and baclofen, both of which are sometimes prescribed instead of opioids for chronic pain, are increasingly being misused, according to a new report. The drugs are being used in a growing number of suicide attempts.

Researchers evaluated data from the National Poison Data System for gabapentin between 2013 and 2017, and baclofen between 2014 and 2017. They found during those periods, suicide attempts after people took just gabapentin rose by 80.5%, and increased by 43% for people who took just baclofen.

“We are seeing a worrying increase in harmful exposures to gabapentin and baclofen in U.S. adults over recent years, which may be an unintended consequence of the move away from opioid prescriptions for pain management,” lead researcher Kimberly Reynolds told Newsweek. “Building a better understanding of the risks carried by these non-opioid medications is necessary so that providers and patients can make better-informed decisions about their role in pain management—and could also lead to the introduction of new public health measures.”

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