Gabapentin Withdrawal Help

Edited , 7 users are following.


I'm reaching out in hopes that someone with experience with Gabapentin side effects and withdrawal may be able to help. I was put on 900 mg of Gabapentin a day (300mg x3) in November. Because it makes me feel groggy. I started tapering about a month and a half ago following the vague recommendations of my doctor. I first cut out the evening dose for a few weeks, then the morning dose, and finally I have reduced the night does to 200mg. I now realize that that is not at all to do it, and I think I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Specifically, I have significant tingling in my feet and legs. My feet get red and hot. My left leg and foot have become weak to the point where I sometimes limp and both ankles feel like jelly. Sometimes when I'm walking on the sidewalk I get a little unbalanced. I also have slightly blurry vision.

I don't know what course of action give me the best chance of resolving my symptoms. Since I'm all the way down to 200mg a night, do I stay here and slowly taper the rest? Should I reinstate a higher does to see if the weakness goes away? Can anyone who has been through this chime in. I know I tapered way too fast, but I don't know what to do now that I am here. I appreciate any perspective you can offer.

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  • Edited

    Hi. You are right. The signs you have been seeing are the withdrawal syndromes and it could get worse or cause major damages to your internal organs.

    I will basically advice that you go back to the 300mg / per morning, afternoon, and night then taper off as below:

    Morning Afternoon Night

    300mg 300mg 300mg for 2 weeks

    300mg 300mg 200mg for 2 weeks

    300mg 200mg 200mg for 2 weeks

    300mg 200mg 100mg for 2 weeks

    300mg 100mg 100mg for 2 weeks

    300mg 100mg Nil for 2 weeks

    300mg Nil Nil for 2 weeks

    200mg Nil Nil for 2 weeks

    100mg Nil Nil for 2 weeks

    Nil Nil Nil

    You may still witness a bit of a change in your mood at the end but not something as significant as you are experiencing now. Don't worry, it will soon wear off.

    I wish you all the best.

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  • Posted

    Hi there, so very sorry to hear your story. It seems like you obviously weaned off slowly, then why these Strange side effects (I'm not sure).

    I currently am taking the same dose of 900 mg, so yes i can identify!

    Seems logical to me to add 200 mg more (400 mg dose daily).. and test it if you're symptoms do go away.

    I wish more Dr's. were knowledgable about this! They put you on, and seem many times..leave you hanging!?

    I would love for you to write a f/u summary after taking this if your symptoms reside..



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    • Posted

      Chan, in the strange world of gabapentin, this is NOT a slow decrease. Some people are so sensitive they take much longer than 4 weeks between drops. You need to give the body and brain time to adjust to the decrease in medication that it's relied upon. There's a lot of medical explanation about receptors GABA (which is the chemical involved), neurons and synapses to explain this.

      Knowledgeable support groups recommend a 10% per day drop over 4 weeks or more. That would mean a schedule of 300 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg for at least 28 days, Then dropping 100 mg from a 300 mg dose. Some people titrate, which means using a liquid, either capsules dissolved in water (there are videos explaining the process) or using liquid gab. When you're ready to get off the drug, please research how to do it safely. As I said this is a seizure medication which affects the brain and autonomic nervous system, it is NOT like taking aspirin, it can impact every part of our bodies and has to be treated very seriously.

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  • Posted

    i'm off it thank goodness , and don't EVER intend to take it again.

    if you can "tolerate" the 200mg for now, then when you feel up to it halve it like i did, then halve it yet again each time over a week or so, whatever you can do tolerating it. my final thing was to then take it alternate days for a week or so. then i stopped. it was hard and i had some "side effects" for want of a better description. i stuck with it and have been off gabapentin for a long time.

    just to let you know i was originally on 3600mg a day and liquid morphine for my back. so if i can do it theres hope you can too. id sooner be in gripping acute back pain than ever be on that again.

    ive said it before , babs is one of the best on here, she knows only too well what this stuff is like.

    Good luck, you Can do it x

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  • Edited

    Hi P, I'm so sorry that you were put in this situation. You've found out the hard way, doctors are tragically ignorant about this drug. First some good news, you CAN get off this drug safely, but it takes time. 3+ years ago I was at 2700 mg (after getting shingles and complications), I've been off it totally since 12/26/19.

    First, I want to understand exactly what dose you are on PER DAY and per dosage. It sounds like you stopped all meds except 200 mg late at night. Gab should be dosed at 3 times a day, spaced apart somewhat equally, as it wears off quickly (bad wording for a longer, medical reason) I took it about 7, 1:00 and 6:00.

    The recommendations from support groups is to drop 10% or less over 4 weeks or more. We can't quite undo what has occurred and please don't follow Yabatan's advice. Maybe it worked for that person, but as you're already dealing with some miserable withdrawal, that can only make this worse.

    The best answer, with fewest risks, is stay the course and wait it out. The withdrawal may last for several weeks, and then start to get better. There's usually a 10-14 day window when we can add back gab without causing too many problems. I believe you're past that window.

    If you can give me more details as to how recently you cut back your dose, that may help. Yes, adding some back, may relieve the symptoms a bit, but as it wears off after 4-6 hours, you'll still have withdrawal as you're taking it only once a day. Adding more may also cause more problems

    I KNOW this is a bit contradictory and discouraging, but we are all individual and I can't predict how your body will react. I WILL say: Your symptoms are consistent with withdrawal from the drug. You're caught between a rock and a hard place, but it's best to just wait a bit before making changes. If you're emotionally prepared for it, dropping it entirely MAY be the best bet, as the WD may not get much worse. The way the drug works, it's difficult to cut back 10% per day when you're below 1000 mg. Doctors SHOULD put us on 100 mg pills so we can drop by 100 mg (300, 200, 300) for a month or more. Eliminating entire doses was decades old advice for some anxiety and depression drugs, before they knew there was withdrawal.

    There is no easy answer here, but as awful as it is, you are not having life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, as can occur. Depression, confusion, memory loss, sleep disturbances are very common. If that happens, accept it's part of the WD and that you ARE getting better. Look to groups on Facebook or online resources like Inner Compass or Benzo Buddies. Gab affects us like anxiety and depression drugs. YOU CAN DO THIS! Hang in there.

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    • Edited

      As info, I had no idea what was going on with my legs and feet. Same thing you describe. I bought different shoes, I was tested for diabetes. It wasn't until I found this forum while going through the withdraws that I suspected it wasn't something else wrong with me. A big relief. And it did get better. Stay tough!

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    • Posted

      It's odd Bo, this last taper had some new issues, I guess just for the fun of it! I noticed one of my ankles had a definite tender spot in it. Years ago I had a slight sprain in it, but it's been fine for a while. Back then it would act up every so often. When that happened again, it took me a few weeks to wonder if it were the WD. Then I realized I had more discomfort in some other extremities and that confirmed it. It's too bad my gab brain can't remember all the issues that popped up. Some of them recurred with every taper, some only a few times, some for weeks, some only briefly. But as it affects the interactions within the brain and the CNS and ANS, it's not surprising.

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  • Edited

    I personally wouldn't go back up if you can tolerate it. I would keep doing what you are doing. Side effects will go away. I guess it is a matter of how much it effects you everyday functionality.

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  • Posted

    Although I cannot help with the original request, I find these discussions very interesting. I have crps after shingles down my right arm. I take 3 x 900 gabpentin daily and this keeps the pain under control and I can use my right hand a bit, although my fingers are very stiff. I had a try last week at reducing the dose, but gave up because the pain in my hand was too great. It took a couple of days to regain my use in my hand, as limited as it is. I know I have to come off it sometime, but how much pain I can tolerate and still use my hand? I am gated at the moment and cannot go to any of my usual things because of coronavirus, so feel now is not the time, without my usual support. I will have another go in the future, reducing the dose very slowly.

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    • Posted

      Anne, I too had lingering pain from shingles, PHN (post herpetic neuralgia) so I had to continue the gab after my initial shingles outbreak. I don't know how you reduced your gab, but when you're ready to try again, here's some info. As I mentioned I too was at 2700 mg but the side effects were so bad, I couldn't function. I was on 6 weeks (unpaid as I was part-time) of medical leave and my confusion and memory loss, in addition to the pain made it miserable, but I knew that as I worked as a receptionist with other detailed duties, I needed a clearer brain.

      It took me a while to find good information (this was 3 years ago, there's much more out there now). At first, I had an idea I should drop "slowly" and dropped 100 mg every two weeks. I now know that what I was going through was withdrawal. I had increased pain, confusion, memory loss and many other things. After again dropping 100 mg two weeks later, I thought I'd wait for 4 weeks. Again, now I know that for me, my full WD symptoms can take 3-5 weeks to show up, so with a 2 week drop and another 2 week drop, I was adding one WD to another. Then I was STILL in WD when I dropped at 4 weeks. It was true hell, severe depression and pain. Then, thank God, I found a good FB group and more GOOD online info. With some experimentation, I found I needed at least 8 weeks between drops to allow myself a good stretch of days. I'd have about 2-3 weeks where I still felt the same, normal side effects, but no WD, then I'd have 3-5 weeks of WD, then a few more days or weeks of feeling MUCH better than when I started my taper. THAT'S when I figured out I could get through it and that I'd get better.

      I scheduled my tapers around events like holidays and trips. I'd postpone a taper so I could have a better chance of feeling good. So sometimes it was 10 or 13 weeks between drops. For me, that was the absolute best way. I KNEW I could function better, feel better and have much less pain so I traded a faster taper and time on the drug for being on it longer and feeling better. I wanted to enjoy life again.

      My typical WD has a lot of increased pain. It is NOT shingles pain, it's the brain sending pain singles because of its interaction with gab. Gab is a seizure medication so it disrupts the synapses and neurons. That's why we get depression, confusion, memory loss etc. I had much worse WD on those faster drops. Even when I went from 300 mg (100 mg 3 times a day) to zero, my final drop, it wasn't as bad as those first few fast drops. The pain you had was very, very likely withdrawal pain. When you're ready, consider those sources I mentioned, gird your loins and know that you can get through it. You're not alone. I am ME again, after 3.5 years. I'm still having some episodes of WD, even 3 months out, but they're much better than I expected. I truly believe as I gave my body time to heal between each drop, it made it much easier.

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