What is gabapentin withdrawal?
Gabapentin belongs to the class of anticonvulsant medication. It is used to treat the effects of restless leg syndrome and shingles, such as nerve pain and seizures. They are also used to prevent migraine, manage neuropathic pain, treat alcohol dependence, etc. It works by affecting the neurotransmitter y-aminobutyric acid in the brain.
Due to the effect it has, people can get addicted to its use, if it is consumed regularly in certain amounts without being prescribed. The brain gets used to its presence and functions accordingly. Hence, when a person tries to give up the addiction they have difficulty in coping with the absence of the drug. This condition is known as gabapentin withdrawal.
Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms or Effects of Abuse
- Confusion and disorientation
- Catatonia/ inability to move
- Sensitivity to light
- Rapid heart rate/ heart palpitations
- Excessive sweating
- Status epilecticus – a fatal condition in which seizures may occur one after another.
- Patient’s medical history and pattern of consumption with regard to dosage and frequency must be known.
- Lab tests should be conducted to know the toxins that are affecting the body.
- Psychological causes for the use of the drug can be known if the patient consults a psychiatrist.
- The treatment starts with a process of detoxification. Detox centres specialize in such facilities and provide the necessary medical care and attention that is required. These programs last for about 3 – 10 days.
- Inpatient treatment is given to the patient at their place of residence itself. The required medical attention is provided by the doctors. This kind of treatment is done keeping the patient’s comfort and assurance of safety in the presence of family and friends. It also helps as the person is made to feel as if it a is a part of his/her daily life and shifts focus from the addiction itself to day to day functions or recreational activities.
- Partial hospitalization programs or intensive outpatient programs include a routine checkup conducted at regular intervals. They may also include weekly sessions of group or psychiatric therapy.
- Individual therapy refers to ways in which the individual himself/herself tries to cope with the withdrawal and tries to motivate to give up on the addiction.
- Avoid the use of the medication for recreational purposes.
- Use the medication only in the manner that it has been prescribed.
- Consult a doctor as soon as a pattern of dependence is observed.
How long does it take to detox for gabapentin?
The half-life of the drug is 5 to 7 hours while the timeline for gabapentin to detox can be up to 10 days. Severe symptoms of anxiety, heart palpitations, headaches, sweating, and seizures are experienced for the 1st 24 hours. After this the symptoms tend to get milder and can be experienced over the next 4 to 5 days. Their intensity increases with time and symptoms may linger on for a few months even after the withdrawal process has been completed.