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Is gabapentin a controlled substance / narcotic?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 5, 2022.

Official answer


Gabapentin (Neurontin) is not a narcotic or federally controlled substance by the DEA as of November 2022, but it is classified as a Schedule V controlled substance in certain states.

In general, medications classified as Schedule V (Schedule 5) controlled substances are considered to have the lowest potential for abuse compared to other controlled schedules, but may still pose a risk of addiction or misuse. Medicines in this schedule are frequently used to treat diarrhea, cough or mild pain. Certain seizure drugs and migraine treatments are also found in Schedule V.

Which states control gabapentin?

The states that classify gabapentin as a Schedule V controlled substance include*:

  • Alabama
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Gabapentin also requires reporting of prescriptions in several states, which means it is included in the states prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) system. These states include*:

  • Connecticut
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

*Note: These lists may not be complete due to changing legislation by states.

The use of a controlled substance is regulated by the federal government to prevent abuse or misuse. PDMPs track prescriptions of certain medications to flag individuals who may be misusing them, at risk of an overdose or possibly diverting them to the streets.

Gabapentin is a prescription medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of neuropathic pain (postherpetic neuralgia) and seizure disorders.

Why is gabapentin controlled in some states?

Gabapentin is structurally and pharmacologically related to pregabalin (Lyrica, Lyrica CR), which is a Schedule V drug and controlled federally in all states. Gabapentin is not a narcotic; however, according to the DEA, gabapentin has been increasingly documented as an illicit drug of abuse by police, in crime reports, and by U.S. poison control centers.

Rates of diversion have also increased with gabapentin. Diversion of a drug is the illegal transfer of a prescription drug from medical sources or a patient for whom it was prescribed to others or the illicit black market. These drugs may end up on the streets.

According to the DEA, gabapentin use is associated with sedative and/or psychedelic effects, similar to pregabalin. This information was gathered from a published study which analyzed online information from 32 different websites.

Gabapentin or pregabalin (Lyrica, Lyrica CR) can increase the euphoria (“high”) felt when combined with opioids, including fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin. Combining these drugs may also lead to breathing problems and life-threatening or fatal respiratory depression.

Tell your doctor If you take any opioid pain medicine (such as oxycodone or hydrocodone), anxiety medicines (such as alprazolam or lorazepam) or sleep medicines (such as zolpidem).

Let your doctor know if you use alcohol or have a breathing disorder. You may have a higher chance for dizziness, sleepiness or serious (possibly fatal) breathing problems if you take these medicines with pregabalin or gabapentin. Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the elderly are also at risk of dying from this combination.

This is not all the information you need to know about gabapentin for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Review the full product information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.

Related Questions

  • Peckham AM, Ananickal MJ, Sclar DA. Gabapentin use, abuse, and the US opioid epidemic: the case for reclassification as a controlled substance and the need for pharmacovigilance. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy. 2018;11:109-116.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gabapentin. Available at: [Accessed November 17, 2020].
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid Basics. Available at: [Accessed November 17, 2020].
  • Lyndon A, Audrey S, Wells C, et al. Risk to heroin users of polydrug use of pregabalin or gabapentin. Addiction. 2017 Sep;112(9):1580-1589.
  • Guidance regarding the designation of gabapentin as a monitored prescription drug. Nov. 12, 2021. Controlled substances board. State of Wisconsin. Accessed Dec. 5, 2022 at

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