Public health officials say the nerve pain medication gabapentin is being found in an increasing number of overdose deaths, according to CBS News.
Gabapentin is a non-narcotic drug used to treat seizures and pain associated with shingles. Doctors have been prescribing it for a growing number of other conditions, as a way to offer pain relief without opioids.
A study published last year found that for people who use heroin, the combination of opioids with gabapentin potentially increases the risk of overdose death.
“Unfortunately, we now need to worry about it because people are abusing it,” Dr. James Patrick Murphy, a pain and addiction specialist in Kentucky, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Alone, it’s not something that will stop your breathing or your heart,” he said. “But if you take it along with a drug like heroin or fentanyl, together it might be enough to make you stop breathing and put you over the edge.”