Neurontin Signs, Symptoms, & Side Effects

Neurontin is a brand name drug, which is also known by its generic name gabapentin. Neurontin is prescribed to treat epilepsy, restless leg syndrome and neuropathic pain. Neurontin is often used as a first-line treatment for people who have neuropathic pain related to diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia and central neuropathic pain. Some potential off-label uses of Neurontin include the treatment of certain anxiety disorders, insomnia and bipolar disorder. However, clinical trials haven’t yet shown Neurontin to be a good treatment option for these conditions. Common Neurontin side effects and symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Ataxia
  • Drowsiness
  • Tremors
  • Swelling of extremities (peripheral edema)

It’s also possible that Neurontin can cause some patients to experience sexual dysfunction or a loss of libido. Other possible sexual side effects of Neurontin can include the inability to achieve orgasm and erectile dysfunction. Neurontin should be used with caution by people who have renal impairment. It can cause accumulation and toxicity. In 2009, the FDA issued a warning about Neurontin, revealing that some patients experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviors while taking the drug. This warning was not limited to gabapentin; it related to several anticonvulsants.

Abuse, addiction and dependence can occur with the use of Neurontin. This risk is higher among people who have a history of alcohol or drug abuse and addiction. It’s estimated that around 22 percent of people who attend rehab facilities have a history of abusing gabapentin. There are some reasons for this high number. First, gabapentin isn’t currently classified as a controlled substance in the U.S., which makes it much easier to get than other substances, such as narcotics. Also, Neurontin and gabapentin medications can produce sensations of euphoria, particularly if they’re combined with narcotic drugs. Neurontin can also cause people to feel very relaxed or calm. Some people describe the high of Neurontin as being similar to that of marijuana.

Neurontin abuse means that someone is using the drug in any way outside of what’s prescribed. Signs of Neurontin abuse can include taking it without a prescription, taking higher doses than prescribed, taking it more often than prescribed, or using Neurontin with other substances. While Neurontin abuse doesn’t mean someone is addicted, addiction often results from abuse. Some outward signs of Neurontin abuse can include:

  • Problems speaking
  • Coordination impairment
  • Temporary memory loss
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Double vision
  • Strange eye movements or jerky movements
  • Seeming restless
  • Agitation
  • New or worsening anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Seeming to have and act on dangerous impulses
  • Aggression
  • Violence or angry behavior
  • Mania
  • Depression

Short-Term Effects of Neurontin Overdose

It is possible to overdose on Neurontin. The majority of Neurontin overdoses do involve another substance like narcotics, but it’s also possible to take a toxic amount of Neurontin on its own. An overdose from Neurontin result in problems with breathing, decreased muscle coordination (ataxia) and diarrhea. Other signs of a Neurontin overdose can include drooping of the upper eyelid, double vision, extreme sedation, drowsiness, lethargy and slurred speech. If someone overdoses on Neurontin, they need emergency care right away.

Long-Term Effects of Neurontin Abuse

One of the main long-term effects associated with Neurontin abuse is dependence. If someone is dependent upon Neurontin and suddenly stops using it, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms including seizures. Another long-term effect of Neurontin abuse is suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Since Neurontin is processed through the kidneys, it can also lead to kidney problems, including organ failure or death. This risk is especially high in people with existing kidney problems. Respiratory failure can occur with short or long-term Neurontin abuse as well, as can memory problems and weak muscles. Over time, the continued use of Neurontin can cause an addiction that requires professional treatment. Since Neurontin is often abused with other substances like opioids, a polysubstance addiction may develop.

To learn more about how you or your loved one can begin the path to recovery, contact The Recovery Village today.


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.