Gabapentin is a medication marketed in the United States as Neurontin, Horizant, and Gralise. Gabapentin is used to treat the following conditions:
- Partial seizures
- Neuropathic pain-like postherpetic neuralgia
- Restless leg syndrome (in extended-release Horizant formulation)
It is possible to develop a physical dependence on gabapentin, even when the medication is used as directed. The risk of dependence and severe gabapentin withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation increases significantly if the medication is abused. Research shows that withdrawal symptoms of gabapentin can occur in people who were prescribed doses of 400mg to 8,000mg for three weeks or more.
The side effects of gabapentin withdrawal are often similar to some symptoms of benzo and alcohol withdrawal, with all these substances acting on GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a chemical messenger in the brain.
The onset, presentation, and duration of gabapentin withdrawal is influenced by factors that include:
- Dose of gabapentin
- Duration of use
- Underlying physical health conditions
- Co-occurring mental health disorders
- Concurrent use of other addictive substances
Detoxing from gabapentin involves eliminating the substance and toxins from the system. All cases of gabapentin withdrawal, also known as Neurontin withdrawal, are unique. Some people may find it possible to detox at home by following a tapered Neurontin withdrawal schedule prescribed by a healthcare provider. In many cases it can be dangerous to try withdrawing from gabapentin at home.
If you have a history of life-threatening Neurontin withdrawal symptoms – seizures, for instance – you should engage with a supervised medical detox for gabapentin. Detoxing from gabapentin in this environment provides continuous supervision by medical professionals who are committed to keeping you as safe and comfortable as possible during the withdrawal process.
Those with pre-existing health conditions should also consider engaging with a supervised medical detoxification.
Additionally, individuals who are addicted to multiple substances may benefit from a clinical detox when withdrawing from gabapentin. Studies show that one in five of those diagnosed with opioid addiction also report abusing gabapentin.
To ensure a safe and comfortable withdrawal from gabapentin, healthcare professionals suggest a gradual reduction in dosage. This approach is commonly used with drugs like gabapentin that have the potential to cause adverse withdrawal effects upon discontinuation.
The tapering schedule for gabapentin can range from one week to longer, depending on the patient’s individual needs. The daily dose is typically reduced at a maximum rate of 300mg every four days, although a slower taper may be recommended for a smoother discontinuation. Ultimately, the goal of detox is to minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms while allowing the individual to safely wean off the medication. Detox is not a substitute for treatment, but rather provides a bridge to ongoing therapy in an inpatient or outpatient setting.
Although the mechanism of action underpinning gabapentin withdrawal is not established, the presentation of withdrawal symptoms indicates the development of physical dependence in those who have been using the medication long-term.
Physical dependence can arise in people who use certain medications or illicit drugs for more than a few weeks. Regular use leads to the body adapting and expecting the substance to be present to function properly. Once a person who is dependent stops taking the drug or reduces their dose significantly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Dependence often occurs alongside tolerance, where a person’s system no longer responds to the drug as it did before. This leads to the need for higher doses to achieve the desired effect.
Physiological dependence and addiction are not interchangeable. Someone who is using a medication to treat a chronic condition may develop some physical dependence, but if they take the drug as prescribed and under medical supervision, they are not diagnosed with an addiction. Addiction (substance use disorder) involves compulsive drug-seeking behaviors that negatively impacts other areas of a person’s life. Substance use disorder is a chronic and relapsing brain condition that often but not always involves physiological dependence.
Those who intentionally misuse or abuse gabapentin are more likely to develop significant dependence, but abusive patterns of use may also emerge in people who were initially prescribed the drug before transitioning to gabapentin abuse.
What are the withdrawal symptoms from gabapentin, then?
When gabapentin use is abruptly discontinued or the dosage is rapidly reduced, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms. The following is a list of common and rare withdrawal symptoms associated with gabapentin:
- Abnormal sweating
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Symptoms resembling upper respiratory tract infections
Note: Those who take gabapentin to manage seizures and suddenly stop taking it may experience a rebound in or increased frequency of seizure activity, including continuous, uncontrollable seizures (status epilepticus).
Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms typically occur within 12 hours to 7 days after discontinuing the medication. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms may last up to 10 days. If you are considering discontinuing gabapentin or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure proper management of the condition.
Gabapentin Withdrawal Treatment
The treatment for gabapentin withdrawal typically involves a combination of medications and supportive therapies to manage the withdrawal symptoms and promote overall well-being. The specific approach to treatment may vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and your medical history.
- Medical detoxification: In cases of severe gabapentin withdrawal symptoms, medical detoxification may be necessary. This involves a gradual tapering of the medication under the supervision of a healthcare professional to minimize the risk of seizures or other complications. Engage with gabapentin detox at an inpatient drug rehab like California Detox or at a licensed medical detox center.
- Medications: Certain medications like benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, and anti-nausea medications may be used to alleviate specific withdrawal symptoms.
- Supportive therapies: Therapy sessions can help you to understand your addiction, learn coping skills, and manage any underlying mental health disorders. These may include CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), group therapy, or family therapy.
- Ongoing support: After completing treatment, you may benefit from ongoing support, such as attending support groups or participating in aftercare programs. This can help prevent relapse and promote long-term recovery.
Do not hesitate to seek professional medical help for gabapentin withdrawal treatment. Suddenly stopping gabapentin use can be dangerous and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures. A healthcare professional can provide a safe and effective plan for gabapentin withdrawal and help you manage the process in the most comfortable way possible. Shortcut your search by reaching out to California Detox.
Get Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction at California Detox
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to gabapentin, California Detox in Southern California is here to help you move beyond substance use disorder. Our detox and addiction recovery centers are committed to providing comprehensive recovery detox and inpatient programs for prescription drug addiction.
We offer a medically supervised detox program that ensures the safest and most comfortable pathway to detoxification and ongoing recovery. Once your system is cleared of addictive substances like gabapentin, you can transition directly into one of our specialized treatment programs for substance use disorder, including:
- 30-day inpatient program
- IOP (intensive outpatient program)
If you are struggling with both addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, our dual diagnosis treatment program in Southern California offers a coordinated and integrated approach to care. We will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that may include interventions such as:
- MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
- Talk therapies like CBT or DBT
- Group and individual counseling
- Family therapy
- Holistic therapies
At California Detox, we understand that everyone’s recovery journey is unique, and we tailor our treatment plans to suit your individual needs. Upon completion of your program, we will help you transition to a less intensive form of therapy or sober living, armed with relapse prevention strategies and a comprehensive aftercare plan. We are committed to helping you every step of the way, from detox to discharge and beyond.
If you are ready to take the first step towards lasting recovery from gabapentin addiction, place your trust in California Detox. Contact us today at (949) 694-8305 to speak with our admissions team.