Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, is a prescription drug used to treat seizures and nerve pain. Even though this medication is considered to have a lower potential for dependence and abuse than other pain killers, it is still possible to develop both conditions. Those who abuse Gabapentin recreationally or take excessive amounts of it are more likely to become dependent.
Someone with chemical dependence on Gabapentin typically experiences withdrawal symptoms if they try quitting the drug or reducing their dosage/intake. The withdrawal symptoms might start 12 hours to 7 days after taking the last dose and stay on for a few weeks. These Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms might include anxiety, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, and anxiety.
The withdrawal process of Gabapentin addiction treatment is not considered life-threatening or dangerous. On the other hand, the emotional symptoms can be uncomfortable for the recovering user and even push them to go back to using Gabapentin to ease them. The best way to quit Gabapentin is by weaning off the drug under medical supervision through a medical detox program.
Dealing With Gabapentin Withdrawal
The ideal way to manage withdrawal symptoms during Gabapentin addiction treatment will depend on the individual’s physical and mental health and the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Other factors such as the user’s reasons for taking the drug and the current dosage they are using will be considered.
Ironically, the best way to treat severe symptoms of Gabapentin withdrawal is by using the drug itself. Going back to one’s regular Gabapentin dosage will eliminate any potentially harmful symptoms such as delirium.
After going back to the normal dosage amount, it is crucial to schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your reasons for quitting this medication. Your doctor will then help you taper off your current dosage safely and effectively. This will include taking gradually smaller doses of the drug over a specified period of weeks or months until you are safely off Gabapentin.
Tapering allows your body to get used to the reduced amounts of Gabapentin. It is usually not advisable to quit taking this drug cold turkey because this increases the risk of withdrawal symptoms. Attending a medical detox through a Gabapentin addiction treatment program is usually the first step of rehab. In such a program, a healthcare team is available to help you manage the withdrawal symptoms during the detox period to ensure you are comfortable and safe throughout.
Some people might want to try getting off of Gabapentin by tapping at home. This method is not advisable because there is a high risk of occurrence of withdrawal symptoms and seizures. The dosage needs to be decreased gradually, which can be challenging without the necessary medical training to taper Gabapentin. If you take the wrong dose, it can result in a dangerous and unexpected reaction.
A medical professional must oversee the whole process of Gabapentin tapering to reduce the likelihood of any risks. A nurse or doctor with experience in addiction treatment can determine the proper dosage for the taper and modify it accordingly, depending on your response. They are also better placed to deal with any withdrawal symptoms or complications in the process.
Approaches Used During Gabapentin Addiction Treatment
Medically managed detox programs are beneficial for people who have been taking the drug for an extended period or using high doses of Gabapentin. Detox centers help these recovering individuals transition back to their regular lives without Gabapentin more easily while reducing the likelihood of experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms. There are different levels of care during Gabapentin addiction treatment which include the following:
Detox centers specialize in assisting recovering individuals through the acute stage of Gabapentin withdrawal. There are trained medical staff available 24/7 to provide psychiatric and medical care to the patients. This stage of the treatment does not focus on continued substance abuse therapy, but the team usually provides arrangements for ongoing care in another facility after medical detox.
This type of program offers care and supervision for users in recovery around the clock. There are regular meetings with therapists, medical doctors, and psychiatrists aside from various therapy programs. Such facilities give individuals a safe environment to help them adopt the lifestyle, behavioral, and mental changes necessary to promote long-term recovery.
Partial Hospitalization Programs(PHP) / Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
These programs are offered in private practices, hospitals, or psychiatric facilities and mainly concentrate on group therapy. Individual or family sessions are needed with most PHPs, including medication management. However, IOPs usually expect that the person has another healthcare provider outside helping them with medication management.
This treatment approach helps equip recovering individuals with the tools to deal with any underlying issues fuelling their gabapentin abuse and cope with chronic pain.
Is There Medication To Help With Gabapentin Withdrawal?
Currently, there are no approved medications to help with the treatment of Gabapentin withdrawal. Even the administration of drugs such as benzodiazepines or opioids, which influence the same pathways in the brain, will not minimize the withdrawal symptoms of Gabapentin.
However, your doctor can prescribe medicines to help with some uncomfortable Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms, such as those related to anxiety or mood regulation. Such drugs might include Venlafaxine, Sertraline, Bupropion, or Fluoxetine. Other than that, tapering the Gabapentin dose gradually over a few weeks or months is the ideal way to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and prevent any associated Gabapentin withdrawal complications during addiction treatment.
It is best to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any intense withdrawal symptoms or plan to quit Gabapentin. Please make an appointment with your primary care physician or prescribing doctor so they can help you through the tapering process and offer the necessary care during the process.