What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription drug that is gaining popularity and is increasingly being used in the United States for the treatment of many conditions. In 2018, the number of prescriptions for gabapentin reached over 45 million prescriptions making it the Top 11th most prescribed drug in the United States.
With so many people taking the drug, the question of whether or not gabapentin is addictive has been asked a lot of times. It is possible to get addicted to gabapentin. While gabapentin has a lower risk for abuse, it is still possible to get addicted to the drug. Gabapentin addiction can occur from getting hooked on its effects without seeking out medical help. Abuse of the medication can lead you to gabapentin addiction, which is dangerous for your overall health and well-being. Try to reach a medically-assisted Gabapentin Detox
Gabapentin is a drug that is mainly used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and to stop seizures. Many doctors will prescribe gabapentin to treat nerve pain in the body because it can help reduce your symptoms such as tingling sensations, numbness, and burning sensations. Gabapentin is also prescribed for many off-label uses such as diabetic neuropathy, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD, restless leg syndrome, and complex regional pain syndrome, among others.
Gabapentin is not an opioid as many people might think, instead, it is a type of anticonvulsant; it also has properties that can be considered an anxiolytic. Gabapentin affects the brain and interferes with how certain chemicals are released, which in turn modifies activity in different parts of the body such as those associated with anxiety or seizures. It belongs to the sedative class of drugs which means that it slows down brain activity to produce sleepiness or tranquil feelings.
Gabapentin Detox and Withdrawal
Even those who take gabapentin as prescribed may develop some physical dependence; however, those who misuse it or abuse it recreationally may experience significant levels of dependence and withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit or slow its use without being medically monitored on a Gabapentin detox facility. There are documented cases of withdrawal symptoms in people who took daily doses between 400mg to 8000mg for at least 3 weeks.
The gabapentin withdrawal syndrome may resemble some of the symptoms of alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal. This similarity may be because gabapentin and these other substances all act on gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.
Primary withdrawal symptoms associated with gabapentin use
- Sensitivity to light
- Irregular heartbeat
In addition, people who are taking gabapentin for seizures and suddenly stop taking it without Gapentin detox may experience a rebound in or increased frequency of seizure activity, including continuous, uncontrollable seizures (status epilepticus). Withdrawal usually occurs within 12 hours to 7 days after quitting the medication. Though a withdrawal timeline hasn’t been documented, some studies have noted symptoms that last up to 10 days.
Factors that can affect withdrawal include:
- Length of use
- Medical or mental health problems
- Concurrent use of other drugs or alcohol
In some cases, individuals who are at risk of or are already displaying severe withdrawal symptoms may require intensive inpatient monitoring and medical Gabapentin detox if complications arise.
Experts recommend gradually smaller doses of gabapentin to safely and comfortably wean a person off the medication. Such tapering schedules are commonly used with medications like gabapentin that have the potential to produce adverse withdrawal effects when being discontinued.
Gabapentin use can be phased out over one week, but the exact schedule will depend on the person’s particular situation. Slower tapers may allow for safer discontinuation of the drug. Experts recommend reducing the daily dose at a maximum rate of 300mg every 4 days.
If a person is dependent on gabapentin or addicted to it, he or she may need help quitting. Due to the potentially serious gabapentin withdrawal symptoms, a medical Gabapentin detox program may be the safest and most effective way to detox from gabapentin and any other drug(s) that the person has abused simultaneously.
Since gabapentin abusers often use other drugs to enhance the effects of gabapentin, Gabapentin detox and withdrawal may produce unpredictable effects. As a result, it’s always safest to complete gabapentin detox under the supervision of a trained medical doctor. Gabapentin detox can also reduce the likelihood of relapse and overdose.
Why Do Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms Occur?
As the drug’s mechanism of action remains somewhat unclear, the phenomenon of gabapentin withdrawal is also not entirely understood. Still, the presence of withdrawal symptoms in users suggests the development of physical dependence in those who take the medication over time.
With regular use, a person’s body adapts to and essentially begins to expect a substance to be present and will rely on it to function normally.
Certain medications and illicit drugs may lead to the development of physical dependence in people who use them for more than a few weeks. With regular use, a person’s body adapts to and essentially begins to expect a substance to be present and will rely on it to function normally. When a dependent person stops taking the drug or significantly reduces the amount of the drug they have been using regularly, they will likely soon experience the onset of withdrawal.
Dependence often develops in tandem with tolerance, in which a person’s system does not respond to the drug in the same way it did before. The person must take higher and higher doses to achieve the effect they experienced when they first started using.
Physiological dependence is often mistakably confused with addiction. But the two are not the same thing. For instance, a person using a medication without Gabapentin detox to treat a chronic condition may develop some physical dependence on the drug. But if they continue to safely use the drug according to its prescribed purposes and under the supervision of their doctor and do not display other signs of compulsive misuse, they would not be considered to be addicted to it. Addiction involves a compulsion to seek out the drug and use it, with such drug use negatively interfering with other areas of the person’s life.
Significant dependence is more likely to develop in people who intentionally misuse or use gabapentin recreationally. However, maladaptive patterns of gabapentin abuse may also develop in people who initially were prescribed the drug but began to misuse it. If you or someone you care about is abusing the drug, speak with your doctor or seek out the help of a rehabilitation program or a Gabapentin detox treatment.
Treatment for Gabapentin Addiction
Since most Neurontin abusers use other drugs to enhance its effects and achieve a recreational high, people addicted to gabapentin will most likely be addicted to other substances like opioids or cocaine. Therefore, treatment for gabapentin addiction should address polydrug abuse as well as the physical, mental, and social effects that come with it.
After completing gabapentin detox, continuing your addiction treatment by enrolling in a rehab program is an essential part of maintaining your sobriety and preventing relapse. In rehab, you’ll learn the essential life skills to sustain sobriety and address the social, behavioral, and psychological issues associated with addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, long-term addiction treatment of at least 90 days is most effective for people who want to sustain their sobriety for good. Anything less is of limited effectiveness. A 90-day drug rehab program is considered a “long-term program” and is typically comprised of the following things:
- Chemical dependency education
- Relapse prevention strategies
- Life skills development
- Other alternative therapies (music therapy, animal-assisted therapy, art therapy, etc.)
Reclaim Your Life With Gabapentin Detox
Gabapentin addiction is a condition that can cause major health, social and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up California can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from addiction with professional and safe Gabapentin detox. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Smith, R., Havens, J., and Walsh, S. (2016). Gabapentin misuse, abuse, and diversion: A systematic review.
 Food and Drug Administration. (2011). Neurontin.
 Tran, K.T., Hranicky, D., Lark, T., and Jacob, N.J. (2005). Gabapentin withdrawal syndrome in the presence of a taper. Bipolar Disorders, 7(3), 302-304.
 Mersfelder, T.L., and Nichols, W.H. (2016). Gabapentin: Abuse, Dependence, and Withdrawal.