Gabapentin is most often used to treat epilepsy and painful conditions; however, there are many other uses of this drug as well. It comes as tablets, capsules, and liquids. The substance can also be given to cats and dogs. Learn more about the drug on this page.
1. What is Gabapentin and How Does it Work
Gabapentin, or Neurontin, is often used for treating epilepsy, migraines, nerve pain, as well as some other conditions. It is often taken twice per day, but the dosage depends on the kind of treatment that was prescribed. Treatment often takes at least two weeks since this is how much the drug requires to start working. There are some side effects, but they are rare, and most often, the side effects are mild.
Gabapentin can be taken by adults and, in some cases, children who are at least 6 years old.
1.1 Is It Addictive
Gabapentin can cause addiction, but it most often occurs among people who have already experienced abuse of drugs and substances. This often happens because the effects of Gabapentin are often similar to the effects of marijuana. It’s been reported that around 15% of participants in surveys who were taking the drug during these studies used it to get high.
Abuse of Gabapentin might lead to some negative consequences, including Gabapentin substance overdose. A person that abuses the drug might experience anxiety, dizziness, nausea, as well as a number of other symptoms of addiction.
It is important to report Gabapentin once you or your loved ones experience it. Otherwise, it might result in some serious consequences that might influence your health.
2. What is Gabapentin Used for
Gabapentin is most often used to treat seizures, including epileptic seizures. It can also help with nerve pain that’s been caused by diabetes, shingles, and other diseases and conditions. It is considered a strong painkiller and can provide major pain relief for people who are suffering from different conditions.
Remember that your doctor should tell you what Gabapentin is used for in your case. Don’t use this drug without a prescription.
2.1 For Anxiety
Gabapentin is most often used for treating anxiety, and it shows a rating of 7.9 of 10 when it comes to reviews from patients. 75% of patients experienced a positive effect when 15% experienced a negative effect. Many people take Gabapentin for anxiety daily.
2.2 For Pain
Gabapentin is often used with other medications to stop pain and seizures. It might relieve nerve pain and serve as a painkiller. It is also used to relieve nerve pain and can serve as an antiepileptic drug. Gabapentin for pain is considered to be effective and often prescribed in different cases.
2.3 For Sleep
Patients who suffer from insomnia might be prescribed this substance since it is capable of treating insomnia by improving sleep quality and making slow-wave sleep better. It is also good for treating sleep disturbance. However, if the drug starts impacting other areas of life and results in negative consequences, it is better to choose another medicine for improving the quality of sleep.
3. Neurontin Dosage and Duration
Gabapentin substance dosage depends on the disease and age. It can be taken with and without food.
Dosage for Epilepsy: the starting dose is 300 mg orally daily one, 300 mg 2 times daily on day two, then 300 mg 3 times a day on day three. The recommended dose is 300-600 mg per day three times a day.
Dosage for Postherpetic Neuralgia
Neurontin may be taken on Day 1 as a single 300 mg dose, on Day 2 as 600 mg/day (300 mg two times a day), and on Day 3 as 900 mg/day (300 mg three times a day).
Dosage for Epilepsy with Partial Onset Seizures
For patients who are 12 y.o. and older: the starting dose should be 300 mg per day; the recommended dose is 300 mg to 600 mg three times a day; in some cases, dosage up to 2400 mg was administered, but it is usually not recommended.
Patients Age 3 To 11 Years: the starting dose is 10 mg/kg/day to 15 mg/kg/day, and it should be given in three divided doses; the recommended dose is 40 mg/kg/day;
Dosage in Elderly
The dose should be chosen based on creatinine clearance values in these patients since the elderly are often more likely to have decreased renal function.
4. What Should I Do If I Forget a Dose
If you miss your dose, you should take it as soon as possible. However, if it’s almost time or is time for your next dose, you should not take the previous one: skip it instead. If you take a double dose, you might experience some negative side effects.
5. Gabapentin Overdose
Gabapentin overdose is possible. This is why it is important to take the drug as prescribed and not change your dose without any directions from your doctor. It might negatively impact your treatment and make you sick. In any case, it is better to talk to your doctor before increasing or decreasing the dose.
5.1 Symptoms Of Overdose
- It’s getting harder to breathe
- Double vision
- Loose stool
- Slurred speech
5.2 What to Do If You Take an Overdose
If you or a person near you overdose on Gabapentin, call 911 or an ambulance immediately. The drug cannot be removed on its own, so surgery is required in this case. Here is what you can do if someone new you has overdosed:
- Roll the person toward you on the side
- Bend the top leg to make sure that their hip and knee are at right angles
- Tilt the head back
- Stay with the person at all times
- Calm down the person.
Medical attention should be sought immediately. If you overdose and feel like it is hard for you to make a call, find someone near you who could do that. Overdose should be taken care of immediately; otherwise, the consequences might turn out to be very serious.
6. Interactions with Other Medications
There are many drugs that cannot be combined with Gabapentin and might cause severe side effects. Gabapentin interactions might result in a number of side effects.
Gabapentin might interact with such drugs and medications as losartan (there have been minor impairments reported when these two drugs were combined), naproxen ethacrynic acid, caffeine, mefloquine phenytoin, magnesium oxide, cimetidine, sevelamer, and other drugs.
One clinical study stated that some interactions with morphine are insomnia, hallucinations, chorea, spatiotemporal disorientation, and even psychosis.
The drug’s properties might be modified when it is combined with other medications. If you take any other drugs and can’t avoid taking them, it might be better to find an alternative for Gabapentin. Consult your doctor to find out what other drugs might be used in this case.
7. Gabapentin and Alcohol
Gabapentin and alcohol cannot be mixed together. Most often, there are no severe side effects when Gabapentin is taking on its own. However, whenever a patient consumes alcohol, no matter how much of it, they increase the risk of severe side effects. This means that if there were supposed to be any side effects of the drugs, you would feel them as if they are doubled or tripled.
It is better to avoid driving if you’ve had alcohol and Gabapentin, even if it’s been a few days. This is when you might start experiencing some side effects.
Both Gabapentin and alcohol might influence your cognitive function. If two substances are combined, it might result in worsened mood, mood changes, as well as your decision-making capabilities. You might also experience trouble breathing or other problems.
Some other side effects of Gabapentin and alcohol are:
Don’t drink alcohol while taking Gabapentin. It is also better to avoid its consumption even when you aren’t taking this drug since alcohol might cause some serious dysfunctions as well as problems with anxiety.
8. Gabapentin Warnings
Gabapentin warnings are based mostly on the age and condition of a patient. This is a drug that might cause allergies, so it is crucial to have an allergy test before you start taking it. Children and seniors are the groups that should avoid drug intake since the drug might influence kidney function. It can be used sometimes to treat partial seizures, but most of the time, this drug is not recommended. Here are a few more health conditions and groups that might be put in danger if the drug is taken:
8.1 For People With Certain Health Conditions
Epilepsy: if you decide to stop taking Gabapentin, you better do it slowly. If you suddenly stop taking the drug, you might experience such a condition as epileptics. This is what might cause seizures that would last for 30 minutes or more.
Children with epilepsy should not take Gabapentin since it might cause serious problems and side effects. Children might start having problems with behavior.
Kidney problems: this substance might not be safe for you since it influences the way your kidneys work, and your body might process this drug more slowly. Before taking the drug, it is better to consult your doctor.
8.2 For Pregnant Women
Gabapentin is not usually recommended to pregnant women. Contact your doctor to learn more about the recommendations and alternative medications.
There are not enough studies among such groups as pregnant women. During animal studies, there was no connection made between the drug and possible harm to the fetus. However, not always animal studies show the reality.
Consult your doctor before taking the drug. It should be taken only if it is a necessity for your health and the benefits of the treatment outweigh possible consequences.
8.3 For Women Who are Breastfeeding
Gabapentin might get into the milk and get into the baby’s organism. This is why the drug should be taken cautiously, and before doing it, it is better to consult your doctor.
9. Gabapentin Side Effects
Gabapentin can cause side effects, as well as any other drug from the same class. Here is a review of Gabapentin painkiller side effects.
9.1 More Common
These common effects might happen in 1 of 100 people. These are often mild and will go away shortly after you’ve started taking the medicine. However, you should still talk to your doctor if any occur.
- Feeling sleepy
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Problems with memory
- Swollen arms and legs
- Difficulties with getting an erection (men)
- Weight gain.
9.2 Less Common
These are more serious side effects, and you should contact your doctor immediately after experiencing them:
- Yellow skin and whites of your eyes (this could be a sign of jaundice)
- Long-lasting stomach ache
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Thoughts of harming yourself.
Allergic reactions are also possible. You might get:
- Skin rash
- Trouble breathing and talking
- Swelling of your mouth, throat, face, and lips
- Chest/throat tightness.
Contact your doctor and/or ambulance immediately after getting an allergic reaction to the drug. Gabapentin’s side effects can be very serious, and they should not be ignored.
9.3 How to Cope with Side Effects
This chart will show you how to deal with different side effects of the drug:
Feeling dizzy and tired
Wait for the side effects to wear off. If they don’t after two weeks of treatment, contact your doctor
Drink enough water and avoid taking any other medications without consulting your doctor or pharmacist first
Talk to your doctor
Try taking the substance with food or a snack
This often happens because this drug can make you feel hungry. Try having a balanced diet that would include foods that are low in calories
You should start having more rest and drinking more fluids. This might also be a result of alcohol consumption. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the side effect doesn’t go away
Problems with memory
Discuss this with your doctor. This might be a sign that the medicine isn’t good for you, so you will have to change it
Stop driving and doing anything that requires you to use tools and machines that require precise moves. Discuss the side effects with your doctor if it doesn’t go away
10. Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms
Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms aren’t common, but it does happen. There were several reports about addiction, withdrawal, and dependence. And even though such situations are rare, they are much more often than people imagine. It happens more often because not everyone reports their addiction.
There has been a connection found between Gabapentin intake and intake of at least one other substance, such as alcohol. If combined together, those might cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms. It has also been noted that often people who suffer from Gabapentin addiction used to be addicted to other drugs and substances before.
Gabapentin withdrawal usually begins after one 7+ hours after the last dose was taken. It appears that withdrawal often happens without any intentions: patients simply ran out of the drug, which resulted in withdrawal.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Fast heartbeat
- Trouble sleeping
- Gastrointestinal symptoms.
If you or people you live with, as well as your loved ones, experience withdrawal, please, contact your doctor and seek medical attention immediately. This is a serious issue, and it should not be ignored.
11. Gabapentin for Dogs and Cats
Gabapentin medicine for dogs and cats is used in the same way as for humans: to treat painful conditions. It can be given to your pet only if the drug has been prescribed by a doctor. Some medications are often given off-label, and Gabapentin is among those.
It is administered by mouth. It can be given with or without food, but if your pet refuses to take the medication and vomits it, it is better to give it with food on an empty stomach so that your pet would feel more hungry and willing to eat before consuming the medication. Gabapentin comes in the form of capsules, pills, and liquid, but not all forms can be used for pets. The liquid form of the substance should not be given to your pet.
Gabapentin for cats can reduce signs of stress and can help with neuropathic pain. If the cat is given the drug before the veterinary exam, the cat will feel less stressed out and scared of the vet.
There might be some side effects for your pets. Those include sleepiness and problems with coordination. Pets can be allergic to Gabapentin due to some of the ingredients, so you should be aware of any allergies before administering the drug. There might be some interactions with medications as well, even if those are just vitamins. Consult your vet to determine if the drug should be taken.