Gabapentin tapering questions. When do you feel the cuts, and how long does it last?

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to start I want to be clear,  I do not use illegal drugs, and I do not abuse RX drugs, and up until a few months ago, the most of anything I ever used was Coffee and Asprin.  So it's a Long story that leads to Gabapentin but I am really hoping someone out there that has been through this can help, after this I don't trust my doctor, or my pharmacist.  Doc placed my on .5 mg Klonpin 1x per day, for a stressful situation involving a family member, just so I could sleep and relax.  He told me such a low dose is not dependency forming and I could come off of it no problem.  I took it for 17 days and quit.  Just 17 days... at the lowest dose possible I never took more than .5 in a single day.   I know Benzo WD is no joke, and people are supposed to slow taper, and some people suffer for a long time. But those stories are always about people on high doses for long periods of time right? 

My Withdrawal was so extreme I did not sleep at all for 2 nights, started hearing and seeing things, and was in a completely state of panic and fear and almost felt removed from reality.   I experienced an extremely severe withdrawal that only kept getting worse,  and 8 days later I was put on 8 milligrams of Valium to be reduce 1 mg a week until off. The idea being that Valium is more gentle and has a longer half life, and its really good for tapering. within 10 minutes of taking just 4 mg I felt almost normal again...So these crazy WD was clearly a reaction to the Klonopin  as Valium is very much the same as Klonopin.  After getting down to 4mg Valium daily from the 8 I was rxed,  I started getting those symptoms again,  although not as severe. 

The Doctor said that  Gabapentin is very well used in Alcohol detox, and that I must have a very sensitive system.  So I take 900mg at night all at once about an hour before bed, and most nights it really helps me with sleep fairly well.  However, the stressful event in my life has completely resolved  during this time, and my mind is calm and clear so now any Anxiety or Insomnia can only be drug related.   Now I am stuck with this Gabapentin.  A drug that I was promised is "Nothing like benzos" , and "No one has problems coming off them" , and "Its not even a controlled substance".  So I foolishly believed... What I found out is that quiting Gabapentin without tappering feels almost identical to the Benzo WD all the nasty anxiety and insomnia,  but with some more fun things like: Stumbling and tripping, Not being able to think of words,  feeling like I lost 10 IQ points, and burning skin sensations. 

Okay... so if you made it this far.  What do you think the right way to taper this drug is?  and when you make a cut, how long do you feel it, and how long does it last before your body adjusts.  yes... I know "EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT"  I am just looking for some personal experiences so I can get a ballpark figure.  Are most people okay with 100Mg drops?  Or is it a good idea to take the capsule apart and remove some of the powder making the doses smaller.

I have been on Gabapentin for just 20 days at this point, and I am still tapering out the valium.  So it will be 1 month before the valium is gone.  Which will have me on Gaba for close to 2 months. 

 

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    OMG!  no wonder my son has not started take it yet.  This is unbelievable some of these horror stories I am hearing!
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    • Posted

      I worked in healthcare for over 30 years and I've talked to others who were also fairly knowledgeable about the medical field. We are astounded that a drug which is the 10th most commonly prescribed with 64 million prescriptions written every year has so little understanding by doctors. Many of us have begun taking our patient information sheets with the warnings and side effects to our doctors so they know.

      This drug came out about 20 years ago and was pushed heavily by big pharma to be used for many off-label uses. It's only approved for 3 things, seizure disorders, Post Herpetic Neuralgia (pain/nerve damage after shingles) and later certain types of diabetic neuropathy. Even then, it's only helpful in 49% of PHN cases. So all those other uses, anxiety, restless less, alcohol abuse, post-surgical pain, back pain etc. have NEVER been approved or researched.

      There was a lawsuit by major insurance companies, NOT because of the harm done to patients, but because they paid for the drug for situations where it wasn't approved.

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  • Posted

    Hi. My God, what a story. I too am tapering off Gabapentin and have just been prescribed Sertraline for depression. I would not start taking the capsules apart as it would be very difficult to measure out exactly half the contents. But you could try taking it every other day, I read a post from another patient who was doing this. Just an idea but might be worth a try.
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  • Posted

    Sorry to hear about you experience but I've been on diazepam for 9 years now and taking just 4mg a day I've found keeps me sain and  I'm also taking 700mg gabapentin daily but I think 100 mg a day of gabapentin will help even though I don't think even the doctors no what they are used for!!!!!

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    • Posted

      My lengthier reply is being moderated (I've been with this group for two years, and still can't figure how what triggers that). My short answer is 10% drop 2-4 weeks, so you'll need a prescription for 100 mg tablets. Taking 900 mg at once is also a problem due to the short half-life (time it's in your body). It's supposed to be prescribed for 3 doses throughout the day. 900 is also higher than other off-label scripts for sleep use. You're probably getting WD from that.

       

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  • Posted

    I'm sorry you too got caught up in the "there's no harm at ALL with taking gabapentin" myth. I had shingles in October 2016, was prescribed gab, went up to 2700 mg and I've been tapering since Jan. 2017 am now at 800 mg. I worked as a medical secretary for over 30 years so it's easier for me than some to deal with doctors and sort through the studies and jargon. I've also read extensively and joined this group and more importantly a Facebook group called Gabapentin Awareness. The SHORT answer is taper at about 10% every 2-4 weeks. As you've already seen you have problems with these drugs, consider going more slowly. I take between 4-8 weeks to drop 100 mg. If I have a vacation or big event, I work around those dates and allow myself to be stable for a while before another drop. Look up benzo and tapering and you'll find good info. Gab and benzos work in a similar way on the brain. Remember it doesn't "stop your pain", it damages the neurons in the brain so it doesn't perceive the pain in the same way. When you taper, the brain is adjusting to the decrease, hence the WD symptoms. But if you think of it as the brain healing, instead, it may make it more palatable.

    As far as a slower, smaller taper. Most do NOT recommend opening the capsules, it's hard to tell what's filler and what's active ingredient. With some drugs like Cymbalta, people actually open up and count the mini-balls or weigh them to determine the taper. You can also do titration, which is essentially opening the capsules, dissolving in water, removing 10% of the liquid with a syringe and dividing the remaining solution into 3 doses.  Notice I say 3 doses, You should NEVER take that high of a dose once a day. Gab has a short half-life, meaning that at about 4-6 hours, it's decreased greatly (but that doesn't mean it's out of your system and the side effects are gone. Nope, those can last weeks, months or longer, as it's the brain that still needs to heal). So essentially you're sending yourself thru withdrawal every day. I'm sorry that you've not been given good info, but honestly, I'd say only about 2% of us have. We've found each other through groups like this as our doctors are using the same outdated info from when the drug was first approved and pushed by pharma reps.

    Yes, confusion, memory loss, decrease in cognitive function, depression, suicidal thoughts, extreme fatigue and lethargy, even panic attacks and rage are caused by gab withdrawal.

    There's no way to predict how you'll react during your taper, and I don't know what to tell you about that 900 mg taken at once. Some people have trouble with WD at 900 mg/day with 300,300 and 300 mg doses. Some with 300 mg dose tapers. That question could be better answered by members at Gab Awareness who have a better background than I. At the very least, get a new RX so that you've got 100 mg tabs so you can easily get down to 800 mg.

    Good luck, I'll try and get more info for you, but start reading and researching.

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  • Posted

    sorry to say this is one of the most god-awful medications that has ever hit the planet. I do not think there is any way to ease off of it. when I stopped taking it I tapered and I ended up with 16 side effects lasting for four months. this drug is currently being reclassified under FDA standards.
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    • Posted

      I agree Karen. As I wrote I'm tapering very slowly, but it's still pretty bad at times. Think of all those people who went cold-turkey or dropped quickly per their doctor's advice. There's a horrible thing called PWS, Prolonged Withdrawal Syndrome. Those people can have seizures, severe movement disorders and all those other things (if I added them up, I bet I'd find 16 side effects also) and that can last years. I'm praying that when I'm down to 200 or 300 mg I'll be able to just stop and the WD will be only a couple of months. Wow, "only"...I'd never believe that I'd be writing this when I started the danged drug.

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    • Posted

      I stopped at 600 bc i was having bad heartburn. I never heard of PWS. I'm going to read up on it. I suffered so bad for 3 mos. I was scared I'd never be normal again. Not 100 percent yet. Let's keep in touch ! Wish you the best 😉

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    • Posted

      Unfortunately, you know now what happens when you go cold turkey. I'm glad you're doing better now.

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