Gabapentin Detox: Withdrawal And Side Effects

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 11, 2021

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant medication that can cause dependence and withdrawal with sudden, stopped use of the drug. Detoxing from gabapentin through a detox program may be recommended if you have a history of drug abuse.

How To Detox From Gabapentin

Gabapentin is an antiepileptic prescription medication. It is most often used to treat seizures, chronic pain, and restless leg syndrome.

Gabapentin is also prescribed under the following names:

  • Neurontin
  • Horizant
  • Gralise

Detoxing from gabapentin, or ridding the drug from your system, may require medical treatment, particularly if you have a history of drug abuse or drug addiction.

This is because long-term use of gabapentin can cause what’s known as physical dependence and withdrawal syndrome—or side effects of drug detoxification.

Learn more about how to detox from prescription medications

Side Effects Of Gabapentin Detox

Gabapentin abuse, or chronic use of this drug, can cause the body to undergo withdrawal if you try to stop taking the drug very suddenly, or miss one or more doses.

Withdrawal symptoms may begin within 12 hours to seven days after taking your last dose of gabapentin if you’ve developed physical dependence.

Some of the most common gabapentin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • agitation
  • nausea
  • pain
  • sweating
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • confusion
  • irritability

Less common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • fast heart rate (tachycardia)
  • tremors
  • high blood pressure
  • excessive restlessness
  • catatonia (being unable to move normally)
  • seizures

Withdrawal may develop if you accidentally miss a dose, begin reducing your dosage, or if you stop taking gabapentin completely (going “cold-turkey”).

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How Gabapentin Detox Works

Detoxification, or detox, is a process of allowing the body to fully eliminate one or more drugs from your system. This can be done cold-turkey or through a drug taper.

If you have been taking gabapentin for non-medical purposes, or abuse gabapentin in combination with other drugs, finding a drug detox program for support is encouraged.

If you do not have a substance use disorder but have developed gabapentin dependence, your doctor may be able to help you come up with a plan for safely weaning off gabapentin.

Inpatient Detox For Gabapentin

Medical detox programs offer 24-hour care for people who are undergoing drug withdrawal, including withdrawal from prescription drugs like gabapentin.

What medical detox programs can offer:

  • around-the-clock observation
  • treatment for moderate to severe withdrawal
  • reduced risk for relapse to drug use
  • treatment referral for drug abuse

Medical detox may be recommended if you abuse multiple drugs, including gabapentin, or if you have other medical or mental health disorders that might put you at risk for severe withdrawal.

Outpatient Detox For Gabapentin

Detoxing from gabapentin may not require overnight care if you have only mild dependency or are otherwise not at risk for severe drug withdrawal.

Outpatient detox services may be accessed through an outpatient drug rehab center or through your doctor, who can help you create a plan for gradually tapering off gabapentin.

What outpatient detox may involve:

  • daily visits to a detox clinic or doctor’s office
  • receiving medicine for withdrawal symptoms
  • attending behavioral counseling
  • receiving other support services as needed

Outpatient detox may not be suitable for people with severe drug addiction, or those who are at risk for experiencing a severe reaction to gabapentin detox.

What Factors Can Affect The Severity Of Gabapentin Detox?

Various factors, including the nature of one’s drug use, can affect how long withdrawal lasts and the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Factors that might affect gabapentin detox include:

  • how long you have been taking gabapentin
  • how much gabapentin you take
  • polydrug abuse (including alcohol abuse)
  • other co-occurring disorders
  • liver and kidney function
  • body composition
  • metabolic rate
  • history of substance abuse

How Long Does Gabapentin Withdrawal Last?

Gabapentin detox and withdrawal may last several days. Because it’s a long-acting drug, it can take some time for it to fully leave the system.

If you’re tapering off gabapentin, this may take a couple weeks, depending on how high a dose you’re taking and your doctor’s recommendations for dosage tapering.

Risks Of Gabapentin Detox

Detoxing from gabapentin may pose certain health risks, particularly if you are detoxing from multiple drugs, including alcohol, illicit drugs, or other prescription drugs.

Research shows that abusing gabapentin with one or more drugs may increase the risk for gabapentin dependence, addiction, and withdrawal.

Common drug combinations among those abusing gabapentin include:

Withdrawal from multiple drugs may compound gabapentin withdrawal symptoms. In cases where severe symptoms develop, medical treatment for symptom relief may be required.

Find Help Detoxing From Gabapentin

Getting off gabapentin should not be attempted without the guidance or support of a medical professional, due to potential risks of withdrawal.

By contacting our helpline, we can:

  • identify suitable detox options for yourself or a loved one
  • verify your insurance
  • find a rehab program for gabapentin addiction

Don’t wait. Call us today for more information about gabapentin detox and how to find a gabapentin detox program that’s right for you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 11, 2021
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