Gabapentin Addiction, Detox & Treatment Programs
Gabapentin is a prescription medication that is used to treat seizures, nerve pain, and restless leg syndrome. It is a member of the anticonvulsant drug class and is also known by the brand name Neurontin.1
Gabapentin may also be effective in treating nerve pain, which is caused by damage to the nerves, and as an off-label treatment for addiction to other drugs such as alcohol or opioids. It is thought to work by reducing the number of nerve signals that are sent out from the damaged nerves.1
In 2020, the estimated number of Gabapentin subscriptions was close to 50,000,000 and is among 10 most commonly prescribed treatments in the US. More than 10,000,000 patients use Gabapentin for various conditions.2
Gabapentin is generally considered to be a safe drug with a low risk of serious side effects. However, like all drugs, it has the potential for abuse and Gabapentin addiction has been recorded in a few studies. Some people with poly-substance abuse history who take gabapentin may develop a dependence on the drug and continue taking it even when it is no longer needed.1
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription medication that is used to treat various conditions, such as seizures, nerve pain, and restless leg syndrome. It belongs to a class of medications called anticonvulsants. It is available in tablet, extended-release tablet and capsule form. Some common trade names for gabapentin include Neurontin, Horizant and Gralise.3
Gabapentin works by affecting the transmission of nerve impulses throughout the body. It is believed to relieve pain by decreasing the amount of pain signals that are sent to the brain. Gabapentin may also improve sleep quality in people with restless leg syndrome.3
What Is Gabapentin Used For?
In the form of extended-release tablets or Horizant, gabapentin is used to treat restless legs syndrome. This is a disorder characterized by discomfort in the legs and a strong urge to move them. The condition usually peaks during the night and when seated or lying down.3
In addition to preventing seizures, gabapentin relieves the symptoms of epilepsy and epilepsy-like episodes. The treatment also may relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia by altering the way the body perceives pain. The effect of gabapentin on treating restless leg syndrome is still unknown.3
Is Gabapentin Addictive?
There is no evidence that Gabapentin binds to benzodiazepine, opioid, or cannabinoid receptors in humans. However, while gabapentin is not considered to be an addictive substance, it may be habit-forming. This means that people who take it can develop a psychological dependence on the drug. Gabapentin addiction is most common among people who have a history of substance abuse.3
The most common misuses of gabapentin are for recreational purposes, for self-treatment, or deliberate self-harm. It may be misused alone or accompanied by other substances, particularly alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids.4
In most cases, individuals who were prescribed gabapentin took the drug at higher doses than their doctors recommended. It is difficult to determine risk factors for gabapentin addiction other than a patient’s drug use history or current drug use, particularly opioid use.4
Some contributing factors to widespread gabapentin addiction include the fact that it is a relatively inexpensive treatment and that many patients can obtain it for free or at a drastically reduced cost through subsidized programs.4
Additionally, due to the fact that physicians often prescribe it off-label, gabapentin is relatively easy to obtain through prescription. In fact, the primary source of misused gabapentin in the United States and the United Kingdom is the healthcare system.4
Gabapentin overdose can lead to some serious side effects. Side effects of gabapentin include altered mental states, drowsiness, tremor, dizziness, slurred speech, fatal respiratory depression, and seizure. Additionally, there are reports of suicidal tendencies linked to gabapentin use in children aged 5 and older, as well as adults, in 1 out of 500 patients.3
Can You Taper Off Neurontin (Gabapentin) on Your Own?
The prevalence of gabapentin abuse among the general public is estimated at 1%. People with prescriptions account for 40-65% of that number, while people who abuse opioids account for 15-22%. Subjects in the studies of gabapentin addiction reported subjective experiences similar to the use of opioids, psychedelics, and benzodiazepines.4
Due to the fact that gabapentin use produces effects such as physical dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms, it is not recommended that people attempt to taper off the drug on their own. Doing so may lead to a relapse or other health complications. Instead, it is best to seek medical help during gabapentin withdrawal.4
A medical professional can provide guidance and support throughout the detoxification process, as well as monitor for any potential complications. Gabapentin detox under medical supervision can help ensure a safe and successful discontinuation of the drug.5
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Gabapentin Addiction?
Gabapentin is considered safe and effective when used as directed, but like all medications, it can be abused. Contact your doctor immediately if you or your loved ones exhibit any of the following signs or side effects of gabapentin abuse:3
- Taking higher than prescribed gabapentin dosage.
- Refusing to stop using gabapentin.
- Simultaneously using gabapentin and alcohol or other drugs.
- Experiencing panic attacks, restlessness or agitation
- Increasing irritability, depression, or anxiety.
- Acting on dangerous impulses.
- Violent, aggressive, or angry behavior.
- Thinking or talking about hurting yourself or ending your life.
- Distancing from family and friends.
- An obsession with death and dying.
Gabapentin Detox and Withdrawal
Gabapentin withdrawal typically occurs within 24-48 hours after stopping the medication. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on several factors, including how long someone has been taking gabapentin and the dosage they were taking.6
Side effects of gabapentin withdrawal can be uncomfortable and may include:3
Gabapentin withdrawal is not considered life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and may interfere with your ability to function normally. Gradual gabapentin detox can help minimize withdrawal symptoms. If you are experiencing severe or debilitating symptoms, you may need to seek medical help.3
Gabapentin use should not be stopped suddenly, as this can cause withdrawal symptoms. If you are considering stopping gabapentin, it is important to talk to your doctor first. They can help you taper off the medication slowly to minimize withdrawal symptoms.3
Medical detox is an important step in treating gabapentin addiction. It helps reduce the odds of relapse and overdose by providing a safe and comfortable environment for the person to taper off the use of gabapentin. The staff at a medical detox facility are specially trained to help people through the withdrawal process, which can be difficult and uncomfortable.5
How to Detox from Gabapentin?
Medical detox is the process of safely and comfortably tapering off a medication under the supervision of a medical professional. This is important for gabapentin, as abruptly quitting the treatment can lead to withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. A detox program can help you taper off gabapentin slowly and avoid these symptoms.3,5
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Gabapentin?
If discontinued abruptly, the side effects of gabapentin withdrawal may be uncomfortable, and include mild ones such as anxiety, restlessness, irritability; or severe ones like tachycardia, catatonia and seizures. The onset of the symptoms usually occurs within 24 – 72 hours following abrupt cessation of gabapentin use. These symptoms usually resolve within 48 hours of reinstitution of gabapentin.7
Unfortunately, there is no clear tapering regimen for gabapentin withdrawal, and therefore the length of treatment varies on a case by case basis. The suggested withdrawal regimen proposes decreasing the dose by 10 to 15 percent on a weekly basis.7
What are the Challenges of Detoxing from Gabapentin?
When it comes to detox from gabapentin, there are a few different options available. Some people may choose to undergo a gabapentin detox program at a rehab facility, while others may opt for a home detox. There are pros and cons to both of these methods, so it’s important to do your research and decide which option is best for you.5
A detox program at a rehab facility can provide you with around-the-clock support and supervision as you go through the detox process. This can be especially helpful if you have been taking large doses of gabapentin or if you have a history of addiction. A facility will also be able to provide you with medication and therapies to help ease the withdrawal symptoms.5
Home detoxing is another option available for those looking to get off gabapentin. This method involves gradually reducing your gabapentin dosage under the guidance of a doctor or therapist. Home detoxing can be less expensive than going to a rehab center, but it does require more self-discipline and motivation.5
What are the Other Treatment Programs for Gabapentin Addiction?
Gabapentin addiction can be treated with a variety of methods, depending on the severity of the addiction and the individual’s needs. Inpatient programs may be necessary for those who are struggling with severe addiction or are prone to using gabapentin with alcohol and other drugs. Outpatient programs may be more appropriate for those with less severe addiction and no history of polydrug use.5
Inpatient programs for gabapentin addiction typically last 30 to 90 days, and provide 24-hour supervision and care. During treatment, individuals will participate in group and individual therapy sessions, as well as activities that help them develop coping and life skills. Inpatient programs can be very effective, but they may incur significant costs.5
Outpatient programs for gabapentin addiction typically last 12 weeks or more, and they provide several hours of treatment per week. Outpatient programs can be very helpful, but they may not be appropriate for those who suffer from a severe addiction.5
Behavioral therapy is an important part of both inpatient and outpatient treatment, and it can help individuals learn new skills and ways of thinking that can help them recover from addiction. Counseling can also be beneficial, and it can help individuals address the underlying causes of their addiction.5
Finally, 12 step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, can also be helpful for those struggling with gabapentin addiction. These programs provide support and fellowship, and they can help individuals stay on track with their recovery.5
How to Get Help for Gabapentin Addiction?
If you or someone you love is struggling with gabapentin addiction, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Gabapentin is a prescription medication that is most commonly used to treat seizures and nerve pain. However, it can also be abused for its sedative and calming effects.
Gabapentin abuse can lead to serious health problems, including suicidal tendencies, respiratory depression, and seizures. If you’re struggling with gabapentin addiction, there are a number of resources available to help you get the treatment you need.
One of the first steps in getting help for gabapentin addiction is to call a prescription drug hotline. There are a number of hotlines available that can help you find the resources you need, including treatment options and verifying your insurance coverage.
If you don’t have insurance, there are still a number of options available to help you receive treatment. There are a number of rehab facilities that offer substance abuse financing, sliding scale fees or flexible payment plans. You can find all this information by reaching out to the admissions navigators at American Addiction Centers.
There are also a number of online resources available that can help you find the right treatment options for your needs. Rehab locators can help you find facilities that offer the treatment modality best suited for you, and they can also provide information on payment options and available insurance coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions