Why Not? –
May 4, 2018 – The story line sounds familiar: a popular pain drug becomes a new way to get high as prescribing by doctors soars. But the latest drug raising red flags is not part of the opioid family at the center of the nation’s drug epidemic. It’s a 25-year-old generic pill long seen as a low risk way to treat seizures, nerve pain and other ailments. The drug, called gabapentin, is one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S., ranking ninth over the last year, according to prescription tracker GoodRx. Researchers attribute the recent surge to tighter restrictions on opioid painkillers, which have left doctors searching for alternatives for their patients. Those same forces are changing the drugs that Americans abuse, according to experts. “We’re basically squeezing people into other drugs because the prescription opioids are becoming a lot harder to get,” said Dr. Richard Dart, who tracks drug abuse through a national data network owned by the state of Colorado. While prescriptions for opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin have been falling since 2012, health regulators have seen increased overdoses with unexpected medications, including the over-the-counter diarrhea drug Imodium.