How to Stop Taking Gabapentin

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a medication prescribed to treat epileptic seizures. There are various dosage forms of the medication including capsules, an oral solution, and tablets. Gabapentin can also be used for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, which is a painful condition following a shingles attack. There are also extended-release forms of gabapentin prescribed for restless leg syndrome. In some cases, gabapentin may be prescribed for diabetic neuropathy, a complication that can result when someone has diabetes and experiences numbness or tingling because of nerve damage. It may be used to treat hot flashes in women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment or going through menopause. The brand-name oral capsule version of gabapentin is called Neurontin. The immediate-release oral tablet version is sold under the brand-name Gralise. The extended-release oral tablet is called Horizant.

Stopping Gabapentin | How to Stop Taking Gabapentin

Gabapentin is believed to calm abnormal activity and excitement in the brain. It also helps postherpetic neuralgia by altering the way the body senses pain. Gabapentin is classified as an anticonvulsant. Despite the benefits, people often wonder how to stop taking gabapentin or what to expect when stopping gabapentin.

Gabapentin is believed to be an analog of GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter. While it does slow activity in the brain, it doesn’t bind to GABA receptors. Gabapentin doesn’t affect how GABA is produced or absorbed either. Gabapentin doesn’t seem to activate benzo or opioid receptors, and it’s not currently a controlled substance.

Certain warnings come with the use of gabapentin. First, gabapentin has a tranquilizing or sedative effect. Gabapentin can produce dizziness and drowsiness, so people should be cautious before driving or operating machinery while using it. Gabapentin may also increase feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Patients are advised to monitor their mood carefully when using this medication.

There has been a spike in prescriptions written for gabapentin. This has left some physicians and law enforcement officials worried. While gabapentin is considered relatively safe and not habit-forming, abuse is possible. In large doses, gabapentin can increase the level of euphoria experienced by someone using opioids. Gabapentin can also alleviate symptoms of drug withdrawal, and it can eliminate the blocking effects of certain drugs used to treat addiction.

Additionally, people may attempt to use gabapentin on its own to get high. Unlike prescription drugs, gabapentin remains relatively easy to obtain by prescription, which is concerning. The number of patients receive high-dose prescriptions, too, adds to that concern. There has been an uptick of gabapentin being sold on the streets as well. Since gabapentin is not currently a controlled substance, there aren’t consequences for possessing the drug without a prescription. And at present, prescription guidelines for gabapentin are relatively lax. Despite how easy it is to get a prescription, many people find that weaning off gabapentin isn’t quite as easy.

It is not uncommon to experience side effects when one stops using gabapentin. This is true of any substance that affects GABA levels in the brain. When someone wants to learn about getting off gabapentin, it is usually because they’ve developed a physical dependence on the drug. Physical dependence is distinct from psychological addiction. Physical dependence doesn’t indicate drug cravings or compulsive drug-seeking. Instead, the body is dependent on the presence of the substance to the point that stopping suddenly will cause physical symptoms known as withdrawal. Research shows that taking gabapentin even for just three weeks can trigger withdrawal as a person tries to stop taking it. Understanding how to get off gabapentin requires professional guidance because of the potential side effects.

The side effects of stopping gabapentin can range from mildly uncomfortable to deadly. The risks of withdrawal symptoms make it important to follow a gabapentin taper schedule as someone tries to stop using it. Symptoms of stopping gabapentin suddenly can include anxiety, agitation and irritability, restlessness and light sensitivity. More severe side effects of stopping gabapentin can include confusion, hallucinations, heart palpitations, and status epilepticus. Status epilepticus refers to a medical condition in which seizures continuously occur, and it can be deadly. The symptoms of stopping gabapentin and their severity can depend on a number of factors. Some of the factors that determine the side effects of stopping gabapentin may include the duration of medication use, the dosage used, and the potential presence of any medical conditions that could amplify side effects.

For someone interested in getting off gabapentin, the best thing to do is to follow a schedule of tapering off gabapentin. Getting off gabapentin should be done only under the advice and supervision of a physician. Even for people who aren’t abusing it, doctors will recommend weaning off gabapentin because it is the safest route to stop using this medicine. Tapering off gabapentin will include gradually taking lower doses, often over a period of weeks. Detox centers may also help people who want to learn how to stop taking gabapentin 300 mg or other doses of the drug.

While gabapentin isn’t a narcotic and isn’t considered extremely psychologically addictive, it is a drug that leads to physical dependence. For people interested getting off gabapentin, never try to do it on your own. Withdrawal from gabapentin can be life-threatening. If you feel you have a problem with gabapentin, or you have a loved one struggling with drugs or prescription medications, our team at The Recovery Village can offer answers to questions and advice on the next steps to take.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.