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Alert issued for non-narcotic pain pill that's increasingly abused

COLUMBUS (WSYX/WTTE) - An alert was issued out about a pill that doctors say heroin addicts are now abusing.

The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network sent out the alert about the abuse of Gabapentin, which is more commonly known for it's brand name: Neurontin.

Investigators with OSAM said there's been a surge in how much Neurontin is being made available on the streets.

Neurontin is a non-narcotic seizure medication that can also be used to treat nerve pain, but doctors said some users are mixing the drug with heroin to get a better high. Some are even taking the drug to help them get through withdrawal symptoms in between highs.

"I think that the abuse rate really speaks to the fact that the heroin epidemic is just ravaging communities. Heroin is driving so much of the other illicit use of drugs: not only Gabapentin, but also Benzodiazepines such as Xanax. Even cocaine and crack cocaine we are seeing an uptake in," said Dr. Thomas Sherba who is the Principle Investigator for The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy said Neurontin was the number one drug dispensed in Ohio in December of 2016.

Neurontin was also dispensed at a 30 percent higher rate than Oxycodone in December of 2016.

"It's a drug that needs to be tracked now. We've been noticing an uptake in reports from participants in our focus groups throughout the state. Gabapentin has been diverged in the street and it has been used illicitly since January of last year," said Dr. Sherba.

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