Can you get addicted to gabapentin?

No, you can’t get addicted to gabapentin. You can, however, experience withdrawal symptoms after taking it for extended periods of time. We explore the use of gabapentin and how to deal with a physical dependency on the drug here.

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No. Gabapentin is not considered addictive.

But it is possible to develop a physical dependence on the drug. In fact, people can experience withdrawal symptoms for up to 45 days after they stop taking gabapentin. Although gabapentin does give some people a euphoric “high” which can cause gabapentin abuse, gabapentin abusers do not present with the kind of compulsive, drug-seeking behavior or strong cravings that indicates addiction.

Just how does gabapentin affect the body? What are some of the side effects of gabapentin? What should you do if you want to stop taking this medication? We review here and invite your questions about gabapentin use, abuse and addiction at the end.

Gabapentin uses

Gabapentin belongs to a family of medications called “anticonvulsants.” Gabapentin is a medication used to control certain types of epileptic seizures, the pain resulting from attacks of shingles, and restless less syndrome. Gabapentin has also been used to treat addictions to narcotics, such as cocaine or methadone. There has even been some research into using gabapentin to treat alcohol addiction.

What medications contain gabapentin?

Gabapentin is available under the brand names Horizant and Neurontin. It is available as a tablet, an extended-release tablet, and an oral solution. The Horizant extended release tablet is usually taken once a day in the evening. The other formulations are taken several times a day at evenly-spaced periods.

What does gabapentin do in the body?

Gabapentin decreases abnormal excitement of the brain and changes how the body feels pain. No one is exactly sure how gabapentin produces analgesic or anticonvulsant effects on the body. It’s possible that it interacts with receptor sites in the brain, but none have yet been found. While the mechanism of action is not known, studies have shown it to be effective in treating a variety of illnesses.

How do you develop a dependence on gabapentin?

Taking gabapentin long-term is enough to develop a physical dependence on this type of medication. If you are taking gabapentin for a chronic condition such as epilepsy, your doctor can help you judge whether the potential for a physical dependence outweighs the symptoms it treats.

Can you get addicted to gabapentin?

No. Gabapentin use and abuse is not associated with compulsive, drug-seeking behavior or strong cravings that indicates addiction. But what can you expect if you are physically dependent on gabapentin? What kind of withdrawal symptoms occur when you stop taking this medication?

Questions about gabapentin dependency

If you concerned about the long-term effects of taking gabapentin, talk to your doctor about reducing your dose on a tapered schedule so that you can avoid withdrawal symptoms. Common withdrawal symptoms can occur during acute detoxification and include:

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • pain
  • sweating
  • temporary increase in seizure symptoms

If you have any other questions about gabapentin use, please let us know. We answer legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.

Reference sources: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Info on Gabapentin
Daily Med drug info on Gabapentin capsules
PubMed: Gabapentin withdrawal syndrome
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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