Factors Associated with Gabapentin Misuse among People Who Inject Drugs in Appalachian Kentucky

Mance E. Buttram, Hilary L. Surratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Aims: Gabapentin is misused to potentiate the euphoric effects of opioids, self-treat physical pain, and moderate opioid withdrawal symptoms. Because examinations of gabapentin misuse among people who inject drugs (PWID) are scant, the aim of this study is to identify factors associated with gabapentin misuse among this population. Methods: Data are drawn from a study examining the uptake of syringe service programs (SSPs) in Appalachian Kentucky. The sample includes 324 PWID who were age 18 and over and reported past month drug injection. Logistic regression models were constructed to examine recent (past 90 days) gabapentin misuse. Results: Participants are female (50.0%); Hispanic (2.2%), Black (1.5%), white (90.7%), and other race/ethnicity (4.6%). Mean age is 37. Participants reporting gabapentin misuse had higher odds of reporting (mis)use of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, prescription stimulants, fentanyl, and buprenorphine (p <.042); severe substance use disorder (p <.000); and recent physical pain (p <.003). In multivariable models, findings related to misuse of prescription opioids and buprenorphine; severe substance use disorder; and recent physical pain or discomfort, remained significant (p <.042). Conclusions: This is one of the first studies to examine gabapentin misuse among PWID. It is possible that individuals reporting recent gabapentin misuse are attempting to self-treat physical pain when healthcare is limited. Gabapentin may also be misused to achieve desired central nervous system effects and to potentiate opioid highs. Syringe service programs can educate PWID about the potential dangers of polydrug use involving gabapentin and to connect PWID with needed healthcare services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2364-2370
Number of pages7
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number14
StatePublished - Sep 11 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by DHHS Grant Number R21 DA044251 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Gabapentin
  • PWID
  • drug injection
  • opioid
  • syringe service program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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