Gabapentin is an analog of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). It is anticonvulsant medication and used to manage epilepsy, but it is also utilized to help individuals suffering from neuropathic pain. It has become the first line treatment for bipolar disorders, post herpetic neuralgia and restless leg syndrome. There are some common side-effect which occurs during medication like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, tiredness, blurred vision/ double vision, hearing impairment and loss of coordination. Gabapentin show withdrawal symptoms, when one tries to quit it. Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, spasms, appetite change and nausea.
Half-life of gabapentin
The half-life of gabapentin is 5-7 hours, means it has a short duration of action. It is the period of time required for the concentration of drug in the body to be reduced by half. Shorter half time is related to more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Factors affecting gabapentin withdrawal
Three factors which affect gabapentin withdrawal are time span, dosage and cold turkey vs tapering. All of these are described below:
Time span: it shows for how long you have taken this drug. Shorter the duration of medication, easier it would be to quit the medication. If you are taking gabapentin for longer periods, your brain and nervous system depends on the drug, for their proper functioning. Therefore, it will be extremely difficult to quit gabapentin.
Dosage: Normal dose prescribed by a doctor is 300mg t.i.d. The dose is decided on the parameter of body weight. The higher the body weight, stronger will be the dose. So, if you are at a higher dose, it would be difficult for you to withdraw it.
Cold turkey vs tapering: It is strongly recommended while taking this drug that you always work with your doctor and do gradual tapering. This involves slowly reducing your gabapentin dose so that no withdrawal symptoms occur. If you withdraw gabapentin suddenly “cold turkey”, then it will trigger very dangerous withdrawal symptoms including seizures.
Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms:
Below are some gabapentin withdrawal symptoms, which you will face while quitting it. This list of symptoms is based on what the individual experiences during their withdrawal process.
- Anxiety: Some people report about the feeling of anxiety. It is documented that some people take gabapentin for anti-anxiety and upon withdrawal, symptoms reversed.
- Appetite changes: Some people experience loss of appetite after withdrawal.
- Dizziness: This is one of the common withdrawal symptoms experienced. People feel dizzy and cannot work properly throughout the day.
- Insomnia: Some people experience severe insomnia, when they first try to quit gabapentin. This will make the greatest impact on your sleep pattern, so try to cope up best with this symptom.
- Muscle pain: If you were taking gabapentin for pain syndrome, then no doubt pain will reverse and make harder for you to quit this drug.
- Seizures: One of the dangerous symptoms associated with gabapentin withdrawal is seizures. This occurs, when you try to stop gabapentin suddenly. This symptom is reported to occur, even if you try to quit smaller dose.
Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms occur with anyone who is taking it and stopping the drug. The withdrawal process can take days, month or even years. Most important thing is that you should take good care during the withdrawal process. Getting in touch with social therapy groups or you can talk to your family members about your feelings and symptoms and you can even work with a therapist.