How To Stop Taking Gabapentin
By The Recovery Village Ridgefield
Editor Thomas Christiansen | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Last Updated: June 1, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
When you have been regularly taking a medication like gabapentin, you may wonder if it is safe to simply quit taking the drug or if you need to wean yourself off. This may be especially true if you slowly increased the dose over time when you started taking the medication. Knowing the safest way to quit taking gabapentin is essential if you are considering stopping gabapentin use.
Why Do People Stop Taking Gabapentin?
People stop taking gabapentin for many reasons. For some, it may come down to side effects of the drug, like sedation, which may interfere with daily activities. For others, it may be hard to remember to take a medication like gabapentin which is often dosed multiple times a day. For others, medication cost might be an issue.
However, before you stop taking gabapentin, it is important to double-check with your doctor about why it was prescribed. Gabapentin is FDA-approved to treat conditions like epilepsy, which should not go untreated. It is also commonly used to treat nerve pain, which may flare if you suddenly stop taking the medication.
Can You Stop Taking Gabapentin Cold Turkey?
You should not stop gabapentin cold turkey. Suddenly stopping the drug can cause withdrawal symptoms and the underlying condition that gabapentin is treating may flare, which can be dangerous. Instead, you should work with your doctor to decrease your gabapentin dose slowly over time, generally at least a week.
Side Effects of Stopping Gabapentin
When you take a psychoactive drug regularly, you frequently develop a physical dependence on the medication. Physical dependence is different from addiction and simply means that your brain and body have become accustomed to the drug and adapted accordingly. This is why some people experience gabapentin withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Chest pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Hot flashes
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Light sensitivity
To reduce the severity of these symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you wean yourself off gabapentin instead of quitting the drug cold turkey.
Stopping gabapentin cold turkey can be uncomfortable. Withdrawal symptoms are a common reason people continue using drugs — they want to keep those symptoms at bay. Gabapentin should be tapered for at least seven days to avoid this.
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Do You Need To Wean Off Gabapentin?
If you have been taking gabapentin regularly, you may need to wean off the drug. This is especially true if you take more than a starting dose of the medication, which can vary depending on your health. The best way to know if you need to wean off gabapentin is to discuss the issue with your doctor.
Depending on your overall health and reason for taking gabapentin, your doctor may recommend that you slowly decrease or taper the dose over time. This can help avoid withdrawal symptoms and allow your doctor to observe you and ensure you remain healthy and stable as the drug leaves your system.
How To Wean or Taper off Gabapentin
No one should try to taper gabapentin without the help of a medical professional. People taking it with a prescription should speak with their doctor about developing a taper schedule. People misusing gabapentin can turn to a detox facility for help.
Tapering schedules will be different based on the person needing to be tapered. Factors include why they are taking gabapentin, how long they have taken it and their daily dose. Doses can range from 100 mg to 3600 mg daily and could be higher for people taking it without a prescription.
Gabapentin Taper Schedule
Some gabapentin tapering examples are provided below for illustration purposes only — each person’s taper will be different and should be constructed by a medical professional.
Assuming someone takes 2400 mg daily, this is a taper schedule based on gabapentin’s package insert:
- Day 1: 2400 mg
- Day 2: 1800 mg
- Day 3: 1200 mg
- Day 4: 900 mg
- Day 5: 600 mg
- Day 6: 300 mg
- Day 7: 100 mg
A more conservative taper schedule may look something like:
- Week 1: 2400 mg daily
- Week 2: 2100 mg daily
- Week 3: 1800 mg daily (25% reduction)
- Week 4: 1500 mg daily
- Week 5: 1200 mg daily (50% reduction)
- Week 6: 900 mg daily
- Week 7: 600 mg daily (75% reduction)
- Week 8: 300 mg daily
- Week 9: 100 mg daily
The Benefits of Medical Detox for Quitting Gabapentin
Medical detox is the best way to stop consuming gabapentin safely.
Many people report uncomfortable symptoms like light sensitivity, headaches and flu-like symptoms while detoxing from gabapentin. More serious risks of gabapentin detox include abdominal cramps, dehydration and seizures. By utilizing medical detox, people ensure that a medical expert can support them should any of these symptoms become severe.
Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield if you or a loved one are ready to address a substance use disorder with treatment. Call to speak with a representative to learn how professional treatment can address a substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health disorders. Don’t let gabapentin addiction control your life; take the first step toward a healthier future by calling today.
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