Gabapentin Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment of Gabapentin Withdrawal

Published: 08/22/2018 | Author:

gabapentin addict seeking help

Sold under the brand names Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Tofranil, Gabapentin is a medication that treats neurological pain and seizures. Commonly prescribed for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy, chronic nerve pain, and restless leg syndrome, this medication has grown in popularity in recent years and as such, increased recreational use has also been seen.

If you or someone you love has been prescribed Gabapentin, consider the risks for addiction and withdrawal closely before taking this drug long-term. If addiction is already a concern, we’re available at 800-483-2193(Who Answers?) to help you understand the possible treatment programs and benefits to professional care.

What is Gabapentin?

An anti-convulsant medication that stops seizures in their tracks, Gabapentin is often prescribed in the treatment of nerve-related pain such as is associated with Shingles and neuropathic conditions including RLS. Structurally resembling the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) this medication reduces pain-related response to produce analgesic effects similar to Oxycodone or Hydrocodone.

You may have heard Gabapentin described by a brand name such as:

  • Lyrica or Pregabalin
  • Cymbalta or Duloxetine
  • Amitriptyline
  • Amoxapine
  • Tofranil or Imipramine
  • Neurontin
  • Gralise

Each of these medications is essentially the same thing. With recreational use of this drug on the rise, you may have also heard gabapentin described on the streets as Johnny’s. Abuse of gabapentin is flying under the radar in many ways because the drug is not yet controlled in most states. This means that users can possess the medication without any real legal risks of getting caught.

Approved Uses for Gabapentin

The FDA has approved the use of this drug for the treatment of seizure disorders and nerve pain associated with the herpes zoster virus also more widely known as Shingles. In addition to the FDA approved uses, gabapentin is also prescribed in the treatment of:

  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Cocaine withdrawal
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches

It’s important to note that use of this medication for anything other than the FDA approved uses has not been adequately studied and deemed safe. Use in these circumstances, even when prescribed by a healthcare professional, should be cautioned.

How Is Gabapentin Used

This medication is available in the following forms:

  • Tablet
  • Capsule
  • Suspension liquid
  • Solution

Dose amounts are different for each patient.

Recreational users have reported taking as much as 5,000 mg of gabapentin at a time but such use is NOT RECOMMENDED.

Adult doses are not to exceed 2,400 mg daily for seizure control; 1,800 mg daily for postherpetic neuralgia.

Given the maximum daily dose for seizure control, a recreational dose above this threshold is both understandably dangerous and risky. Unfortunately, this risk does NOT prevent users from taking dangerously large quantities of this medication in an effort to get high.

Various brands of Gabapentin are available in doses as follows:

  • Capsules in 100, 300 or 400 mg doses
  • Tablets in 100, 300, 400, 600 and 800 mg doses
  • Oral solution in 250 mg per 5 ml doses

If you or someone you love is abusing gabapentin, professional help may be required to stop safely. Consider a visit to our directory  for a complete list of detox centers throughout the U.S. or for individual questions you can reach us anytime at  800-483-2193(Who Answers?).

Gabapentin Side Effects

Even prescribed use of gabapentin can lead to an array of side-effects. Some of the most common include

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Additional side effects of gabapentin include:

  • Jerky movements
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Trouble speaking
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Unsteadiness

Pay close attention to the following potentially dangerous side effects:

  • Excessive weight gain
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Motion sickness that does not get better with time
  • Chronic blurred vision
  • Infection

Taking a medication such as gabapentin can lead to suicidal thoughts even in those who are not generally at risk for such emotions.

Anyone considering the use of gabapentin, or that is already taking this drug either as prescribed or recreationally, should be closely observed for changes in mood or behavior.

Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Although Gabapentin is not a narcotic and is not an opioid, this medication is showing significant potential for abuse and misuse. Ongoing, repeat use of gabapentin can lead to addictive side effects that make quitting difficult for the average user.

Withdrawal symptoms are possible if you take gabapentin for more than a couple of weeks and then abruptly try to quit. Quitting abruptly may cause seizures in an individual who otherwise is not at risk for such an occurrence. Talk with a doctor before you suddenly stop taking gabapentin if you have been using the medication for a prolonged period of time.

Gabapentin Withdrawal

Much like opioid withdrawal, gabapentin withdrawal may lead to many of the same symptoms. Although this medication is not classified as a narcotic or as an opioid, pay close attention to the following symptoms if the drug is abruptly eliminated from daily use:

  • Sweating profusely
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Insomnia
  • Goosebumps

Help for Gabapentin Addiction

If you or someone you love is addicted to gabapentin, support is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 800-483-2193(Who Answers?) and through chat below. Residential detox centers and treatment centers throughout the country are prepared to help patients overcome addiction to this drug but they cannot help you unless you call.

Studies confirm that as many as 65% of those who are prescribed this medication currently misuse the drug. With further crackdowns on opioids and other dangerous narcotics coming day by day, the number of people abusing this and other drugs that are running under the DEA’s radar is likely to skyrocket.

You are not alone! Further, if you suspect someone you care about may be addicted, pay close attention to the following signs:

  • Acting secretly about drug use or prescribed medication use.
  • Changing social behaviors or groups of friends
  • Showing a distinct lack of motivation
  • Declining performance in work, school or home-related activities
  • Personal hygiene neglect
  • Inexplicable changes in mood
  • Changes in sleep habits

Your loved one may be abusing his or her gabapentin prescription without even realizing the risks. If this is the case, it’s important to speak with them in a non-confrontational manner to help him or her understand what is going on and what the risks of such abuse are.

Most importantly, if gabapentin abuse is occurring it is important to seek treatment right away. We can help!

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