How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System?

Gabapentin pills spilled on a blue countertop

Gabapentin is a commonly prescribed medication that stays in the body for about 36 hours. It is the generic ingredient in the prescription drug Neurontin. Gabapentin is approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) for use for certain conditions. However, gabapentin has many off-label uses that have shown to be effective in practice but are not approved by the FDA. 

Off-label indications include:

  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Cough
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hiccups
  • Pruritis
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Social anxiety disorder

No matter how gabapentin is used, it will typically stay in the body for 36 hours, but may be detected in drug tests for different lengths of time. 

How Long Do Gabapentin Side Effects Last?

Gabapentin is normally taken daily, and most common side effects go away within the first month of taking the drug. Common side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred Vision
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Increased Appetite
  • Memory Problems
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness or Weakness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vomiting

Once gabapentin is no longer used, the side effects should go away within two or three days of stopping the drug.

Gabapentin Half-Life

The half-life of a drug refers to the time necessary for the concentration of the drug in the body to be cut in half. Gabapentin’s half-life is about 5–7 hours. The body completely removes a drug in five half-lives, so gabapentin will stay in the body for about 36 hours or a day-and-a-half.

How Long Will Gabapentin Show in a Drug Test?

Pre-employment and random drug tests do not typically include a gabapentin drug test. However, some addiction centers may get a special test for gabapentin if they are suspicious it is being abused.

  • Urine: A specialized urine screen for gabapentin can detect the drug 2–4 days after use.
  • Blood: Based on its half-life of five to seven hours, gabapentin is in the blood for 36 hours, but will not be detectable for this long.
  • Hair: In theory, gabapentin is detectable in the hair for 90 days. However, it will not usually show up unless the test is specifically looking for it.

Factors Affecting How Long Gabapentin Stays in Your System

Gabapentin stays in the body for about 36 hours for most people. Some factors that may impact metabolism include:

  • Amount used: Gabapentin accumulates in the body when taken in high amounts. Taking large doses may prolong the time it stays in the body.
  • Frequency of use: Gabapentin will stay in the body longer in people who use it frequently.
  • Age: In general, kidney function declines with age. Therefore, older adults will metabolize gabapentin more slowly.
  • Overall health: The length of time gabapentin stays in the body is directly proportional to kidney function. The half-life of gabapentin in people with kidney failure can be up to 132 hours, meaning it can stay in the body for 28 days without dialysis.

How Gabapentin Is Broken Down in the Body

Gabapentin is eliminated completely by the kidneys. The kidneys filter it from the blood and remove it from the body through the urine. It takes time for the body to remove drugs from the system. A person cannot remove gabapentin from the body faster than the kidneys will eliminate it.

Key Points: How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System?

Knowing how long gabapentin stays in the system can help you understand how the drug impacts the body. Key points to remember include:

  • Drug tests do not normally look for gabapentin abuse
  • Gabapentin is not a controlled medication, but some states are starting to recognize its abuse potential
  • Urine drug tests for gabapentin can detect it for 2–4 days but must be special ordered

Most drug tests do not look for gabapentin, but it can still be abused. If you or a loved one need help to overcome gabapentin addiction, call The Recovery Village Ridgefield. Our addiction professionals can help guide you to the most appropriate treatment.

US National Library of Medicine. “Gabapentin Package Insert.” April 11, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2019.

Moeller, Karen E., et al. “Urine Drug Screening: Practical Guide for Clinicians.” Jan. 2008.  Accessed July 30, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.