Gabapentin withdrawal

June 1, 2017


Gabapentin withdrawal

It's extremely difficult to overcome addictions, not just because of the way they control our lives, but also because of tough, even life-threatening, withdrawal symptoms. 

Even powerful prescription drugs like neurontin, also called Gabapentin, typically used to treat symptoms of withdrawal, are prone to abuse. 

Still, though we must remain cautious of abusing this drug, we also should not discount how Gabapentin has worked to help people kick their addictions. As such, it is important to understand how Gabapentin works, what its effects are on its users, and how they could deal with Gabapentin withdrawal. 

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What is Gabapentin

Gabapentin is a powerful prescription drug used to treat seizures, neuralgia, restless leg syndrome, and pain caused by shingles. It works by decreasing unusual brain activity associated with the cause of the pain or disorder, thereby reducing its effect upon the patient.

Here's an infographic summarizing what you need to know about the drug Gabapentin:




For people that use Gabapentin the right way, it could have a major positive impact on their life. Unfortunately, like other drugs, it's also prone to abuse.

When this occurs, the patient can quickly begin to lose control and allow their addiction to take over their life. Once this happens, they would need professional help to fight their addiction, which will include medical help, to deal with Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms. 


Overview on withdrawal

For people who have been using any type of drug for a long period of time and decide that they no longer want to let that drug dictate how they live their life, there is always the risk of withdrawal.

But while withdrawal symptoms are not always an issue, they could have a huge impact on the person experiencing them. Sometimes, even, withdrawal symptoms could border on becoming life-threatening, especially when it makes them severely ill. That's why someone with an addiction to powerful drugs like Gabapentin, will need the help of family, friends, and medical professionals. 


How does Gabapentin work?

Understanding Gabapentin means understanding how the brain works. In simplest terms, the nervous system is partially run by GABA neurotransmitters. Gabapentin reduces neurotransmitters' activity level and results in lower levels of pain, stress, and anxiety for the patient. In essence, Gabapentin turns things down a notch so your brain and body are able to function in a better capacity, since your brain won't be overactive, making you a host of health issues and symptoms.


Gabapentin as a cure to addiction to other drugs 

While created, manufactured, and marketed to deal with neurological pain and other similar issues, Gabapentin can also be used off-label as an effective means of treating many types of drug addiction. While using it off-label may seem odd, it is by no means a red flag. Drugs are often manufactured to serve one purpose but are eventually discovered to have unintended but beneficial effects.


What types of drug addictions can Gabapentin help patients to overcome?

Gabapentin is frequently used to help people with addictions to Clondine, Tegretol, Depakote, Methadone, Buprenorphine, Naltrexone and even alcohol.


While sometimes used to treat addictions to other drugs, Gabapentin is primarily used to treat alcoholism. Alcohol addiction can often lead to emotional dependence and volatility, illnesses and social stigmatization, which is why it's important to treat this vice. It is estimated that there are over 16.5 million alcoholics in the United States as of 2013. Withdrawal from alcohol could be an ugly affair as it creates a wide range of nasty side effects, which include but are not limited to: trembling, anxiety, irritability and a general sense of agitation. In particular, the tremors could get severe and require medical intervention in order to stabilize the patient. 


How Gabapentin is administered

The method by which Gabapentin is administered and the frequency of which it is administered to a patient is based upon a number of factors. Aside from the patient's sex, age, weight and overall health, the dosage given to them will also vary depending upon the severity of their addiction. Gabapentin can be administered via pill, tablet, or liquid. Typically a dose of 100 mg to 800 mg will be administered every 5 to 7 hours.

It's also very important that anyone being given Gabapentin is kept under close supervision. While outpatient rehab is a popular option that more and more people are taking advantage of, a patient taking Gabapentin is much better off in an inpatient facility instead. Gabapentin can have significant harmful side effects, or even in extreme circumstances, fatal. 


Gabapentin side effects

Since it works at a neurological level, Gabapentin could cause strange thought processes to occur in patients. Patients are also prone to sudden changes in temperament and behavior.

In addition to psychological issues, Gabapentin may also cause a spike in blood pressure, sleep disruptions, fever, changes in appetite and chest pain. In particular, chest pain is a major concern and should always be treated as a medical emergency until any cardiac issues have been ruled out. Please keep in mind that while these possible side effects are scary, the benefit that this drug can provide you will be worth any risks involved. Also keep in mind that when you are treated with Gabapentin, you will likely be in an inpatient facility where you will be monitored round the clock. 


How well does Gabapentin work and is it the right choice for your treatment?

If you are wondering how well Gabapentin works, then you will probably be pleased to know that the American Journal Of Psychiatry recently published a study proving that this drug shows tremendous promise in treating alcoholics.

Over the course of a four-month study involving 150 patients, it was determined that those treated with a combination of Gabapentin and Naltrexone showed greater progress than those who were treated only with Naltrexone.

The Journal Of Clinical Psychology also published an article showing that patients who were treated with Gabapentin also did significantly better than those were not treated with it. Those treated with Gabapentin tended to drink less if they did drink, and the chances that they would be able to successfully abstain from all alcohol use were much greater than if they didn't. 


Gabapentin as a calming agent for drug addictions: marijuana and benzodiazepines 

Gabapentin is well-known for its ability to calm down agitated people suffering from alcohol withdrawal, but not a lot of people realize that it can do the same for those who are detoxing from marijuana and benzodiazepines as well.

Marijuana, which contrary to reports is actually a highly addictive drug, can cause people to suffer a variety of psychological issues when they attempt to overcome their addiction. While there won't be any physical symptoms that most people associate with withdrawal, it's important to note that the psychological issues involved can be very disruptive and unpleasant for the person experiencing them.

Still not convinced that Marijuana addiction is a major problem in our country today? You'd be shocked to discover that in 2012, over 305,000 people checked themselves into rehabilitation facilities citing marijuana addiction as their primary reason for being admitted. 

Another major addiction issue in our country, though not on the same level as marijuana, is benzodiazepine addiction. In 2012, over 17,000 people were admitted to addiction treatment centers as a result of benzodiazepine abuse.

If you aren't familiar with benzodiazepines as a class of drugs, then you will probably recognize the drug valium, one of the drugs in this class. People that take benzodiazepines for long periods of time generally find it impossible to learn to relax and sleep without taking their drug of choice. While benzodiazepines are generally among the safer drugs that people abuse, and overdoses are rare, they can and do happen.


How does Gabapentin become addicting?

Like other classes of drugs, many people end up abusing and becoming addicted to Gabapentin after using it for legitimate medical reasons. Most people don't even realize that they have a problem until it is already too late. The good news is that there is help available that can allow people addicted to this drug to escape its influence. It won't always be an easy process, but beating Gabapentin addiction is possible and has been accomplished by several people before.

If you have ever had a substance abuse or addiction problem before, then the chances of you becoming addicted to Gabapentin are much higher than if you never had a problem. If this is your situation, then you should definitely discuss with your doctor to make sure that they are aware of the danger of addiction that you may be facing.


Gabapentine addiction effects

Gabapentin can induce a state of euphoria when taken by some people, producing a powerful high that can cause someone to become addicted quite quickly.

Addiction to Gabapentin is of particular danger to people because it is a physical addiction. That means that your body becomes so accustomed to having the drug present that it cannot function properly without the drug. This can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, which is why someone with an addiction to this drug should always be treated by medical professionals.

Some people advocate quitting the use of Gabapentine cold turkey, but as it so often happens, people who do this often end up having severe withdrawal symptoms. The best option for them would be to gradually lower their dosage and then treat withdrawal symptoms with therapy, counseling, and supportive medications. It's so you experience less withdrawal symptoms proportional to your lesser dosages.  


Can you overdose on Gabapentine?

As to whether you can overdose on Gabapentine: yes. If you begin to take more of this drug per dose, or use it more frequently than you should, then there is definitely a risk of overdose.

Overdose symptoms can include drowsiness, fatigue, anxiety, sleep disruptions, sweating, and other unpleasant side effects. Because your body can become dependent upon this drug quickly, it's important that whenever there are changes in your dosage, this is done under a doctor's supervision. It's also important that changes in the dosage are made gradually in small amounts over lengthy periods of time.


Withdrawal symptoms from Gabapentin detox

Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms can start in as little as 12 hours after the last dose of the drug, and can last for up to a week. If Gabapentin as being used to treat seizures, then stopping use of it could cause seizures to suddenly return, which is something that a patient's medical team needs to be aware of.

In terms of psychological effects, Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms include anxiety and mood swings, as well as other psychological issues that can last for many months. Physical withdrawal symptoms include nausea, general body pain, and excessive sweating.

The Author | Jeffery Knight
Jeff is a Husband and father two. He calls southern california his home, and enjoys spend relaxing weekends with his family. View More Post from Jeffery Knight