Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms and timeline

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a prescription anticonvulsant medication that is used to treat seizures and nerve pain. It is also used off-label to treat migraines, fibromyalgia, and pain. The number of prescriptions written for gabapentin has slowly increased each year over the last decade. While gabapentin is useful in treating seizures and nerve pain, it can also be habit-forming and addictive.

If you use gabapentin daily for an extended period of time, your body will become physically dependent on it, resulting in symptoms of withdrawal if you suddenly stop taking it. The gabapentin withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person, but it usually begins 12 hours to 7 days after quitting the medication and can last for up to 10 days.

Symptoms of gabapentin withdrawal can range from mild to severe, with more severe symptoms occurring in people who have used the drug in higher doses, more frequently, or for longer periods of time. Regardless, gabapentin withdrawal can be dangerous, and in some cases, it can be life-threatening. As a result, it is always best to detox under medical supervision at a trusted drug and alcohol detox facility.

Symptoms of Gabapentin Withdrawal

Gabapentin withdrawal sometimes resembles alcohol withdrawal because both withdrawal syndromes arise as a result of how both substances affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps regulate the central nervous system.

Common symptoms of gabapentin withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Aches and pains
  • Tremors
  • High blood pressure

Seizures are also possible during gabapentin withdrawal. As a result, you should never stop taking gabapentin without talking to your healthcare provider or seeking help from a medical detox facility.

Understanding the Gabapentin Withdrawal Timeline

In totality, gabapentin withdrawal usually lasts up to 10 days, but the exact timeline can vary greatly from person to person. Some people begin experiencing symptoms within 12 hours of their last dose, while others don’t report symptoms for up to 7 days.

However, the vast majority of people who were dependent on gabapentin started experiencing withdrawal 24 to 48 hours after their last dose. Their symptoms often peaked around day three and began to subside after 5-7 days.

Factors that Affect How Long Gabapentin Withdrawal Lasts

Everyone’s body reacts differently to the sudden discontinuation of medications like gabapentin. How long your withdrawal symptoms last and how severe they become depends on the following factors:

  • Extent of gabapentin useUsing gabapentin more frequently, in higher doses, or for longer amounts of time will result in more severe, long-lasting withdrawal symptoms.
  • Polysubstance use – Many people who detox from gabapentin are also detoxing from opioids or alcohol as polysubstance abuse is extremely common with this drug. Detoxing from multiple drugs can affect the symptoms dramatically.
  • Overall health – Variables such as your age, weight, metabolism, liver function, and kidney health will all affect your experience during detox.

Tapering off Gabapentin With the Help of a Medical Professional

The easiest way to stop taking gabapentin is to work with your healthcare provider. Your provider can gradually lower your dose over several days, weeks, or months, allowing your body to get used to progressively smaller doses. This method is known as tapering and can prevent many of the severe symptoms of withdrawal.

Be sure to let your doctor know if you have been abusing your medication or taking it in doses higher than what is prescribed so he or she can adjust your taper accordingly. In some cases, it has taken over a year (18 months) of tapering to avoid gabapentin withdrawal symptoms.[3]

Gabapentin Withdrawal Treatment in a Detox Center

If you do not have a prescription for gabapentin and you have been abusing the drug, you may be struggling with addiction and need more intensive treatment. In this scenario, the best option is to seek help from a medical detox center.

Drug and alcohol detox centers provide a safe, supportive environment to help individuals detox from addictive substances. They have doctors on-site who can prescribe medications to alleviate your symptoms and nurses who can monitor your symptoms and intervene in the event of an emergency. Group and individual therapy sessions as well as support groups may be offered, as well.

After detoxing, further treatment is encouraged. Attending an inpatient or outpatient treatment program can help you develop the coping skills needed to stay sober in the future.

Get Help for Gabapentin Addiction Today

With the right treatment, anyone can overcome an addiction to gabapentin. At Moving Mountains Recovery, we’ve helped hundreds of people beat gabapentin addiction by helping them detox safely, address the root cause of their addiction, and embrace a lifestyle so fulfilling that there is no room left for drugs and alcohol.

Learn more about our prescription drug rehab programs or find help for yourself by calling us today.

References:

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Gabapentin, Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10550887.2021.1907502?journalCode=wjad20
  2. Sage Journals: Gabapentin Abuse, Dependence, and Withdrawal, Retrieved July 2023 from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1060028015620800
  3. Taylor & Francis Online: Gabapentin dependence and withdrawal requiring an 18-month taper in a patient with alcohol use disorder: a case report, Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10550887.2021.1907502?journalCode=wjad20
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