Gabbapentin for alcohol withdrawals?

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I was admitted to the ER Sunday - I did not really suspect alcohol withdrawal since I was still drinking - I spent a few days having heart palpitations/tachycardia and burning chest pain/anxiety/etc... But after having chest pain/dizziness/cold sweat/arm numbness/almost blacking out/squeezing in chest/tachycardia and thought I might die...

I went in. I was diagnosed with alcohol withdrawal and anxiety and sent home with chlordiazepoxide (Librium) 10mg 3x a day as needed.

* I have a history of being medically detoxed in a hospital twice for these same symptoms and was detoxed on Ativan with no problems and no further withdrawal symptoms.*

I went home and took the prescribed dose of Librium. One day passed - the next day I had symptoms return.

I went to a different ER. I was found to be suffering from

Hypokalemia. I had malabsorption issues and a dangerously low level of potassium that was causing the palpitations/tachycardia and arrhythmia - that could have been life threatening. I was given oral potassium - and Gabbapentin and a small amount of Ativan. I went home and not surprisingly did not digest the potassium pills.

I was prescribed Gabbapentin 600mg 3x a day for a week then 600 mg 2x a day for a week - 3 weeks depending on how I feel then 1 pill at night until I feel well.

I was told it was non addictive and completely safe.

I took the 600mg this morning when I woke up around 12pm. It caused me to be really out of it and spacey/loopy all day and I couldn't leave the house. I was supposed to take this does 3x per day?!?!

I then did research to find that it is really hard to ween off of even if taken for a week and causes its own withdrawal symptoms and side effects. That it's more for withdrawal symptoms and alcohol craving and won't prevent DTs or alcohol related seizures despite being an anticonvulsant.

It's giving me some serious GI issues - so if I'm having malabsorption of potassium and the Gabbapentin is causing me to evacuate everything in my bowls constantly - how am I supposed to maintain normal potassium/hydration? I also really don't like how it makes me feel I terms of cognition. I'm calm but my mind feels "numb".

I'm just not sure how to proceed. Do I take 300mg 2x a day for a few days and then 300mg at night for a few days to taper off? Have I developed a need to taper off of it already after taking 600mg only twice?

I am in therapy and plan on getting into an outpatient rehab this time as I now fully committed to remaining sober.

I have an appointment with a general practitioner on March 10th (the earliest I could get).

Any advice or experience would be appreciated!

Thanks so much!!!

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Slowburner. You have certainly been through a lot but I cannot guide you since I stopped stone cold 3 yrs and never had medication. This can obviously be very dangeours to some people and not advised. Check with Paul the achohol guidance star on this forum!! he will know about the right medicines to take and also guide you on what they have subscribed. Best of luck to you for certain! Robin
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  • Posted

    Hi Slowburnstar

    Welcome to this forum and am sure you will get advice and help.

    However I'm not medically qualified or knowledgable enough to comment on how your medication is affecting you and agree with Robin that Paul turner is a professional in this field, and am sure offer his opinion.

    Good luck

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  • Posted

    Back again Slowburnstar? Tests seem to indicate that it is not a problem with alcohol consumption.

    However as with any medication, it can affect people in diffirent ways,

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  • Posted

    The doses of Librium you were given were very low. I don't know what you were drinking but we find that some people need 30mg every four hours in the early part of their alcohol detox.

    I think Gabapentin may have been prescribed for peripheral neuropathy which will be the reason for your numbness and maybe some other symptoms. It is not usual to give an antiepileptic drug (another use of Gabapentin) to a person detoxing unless they have a history of seizures, an adequate of a benzodiazepine, like Librium, stops withdrawal symptoms and therefore prevents seizures occurring.

    There is a school of thought that Gabapentin can be used instead of benzodiazepines to stop alcohol withdrawal symptoms and this may be the thinking behind it being prescribed. However, data is limited and benzodiazepines (Librium, Valium and Ativan are three that are commonly used) are still the main drug of choice.

    I haven't seen you and I know nothing of your biochemistry, so it is impossible for me to know what other issues are going on but most people who have been in a serious mess with drinking have nutritional issues which normally get fixed as their diet returns to normal (normally starting about the 3rd day of detox).

    You shouldn't get 'addicted' to Gabapentin within a few days, only long term use causes dependence. However, I can't tell you not to take it as prescribed, particularly as I don't know the thinking behind the prescribing of it.

    You may find that the longer you are not drinking, the fewer symptoms you will have.

    You should be past the point of suffering severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms now if you haven't been drinking since Sunday.

     

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    • Posted

      I can accept the fact that there is no spell checker, but the fact there is no preview option, to read a long post all in one go, instead  of a tiny box, where you will always miss typos, maddens me.
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    • Posted

      I have asked for that from the moderators smile Someone I was texting last night said to me 'you don't need to fix your typos with a '*correctspelling', I am not stupid, I still know what you mean.' I had to explain that it is a compulsion I have because my own typos irritate the hell out of me until I have fixed them. I am not bothered by other people's spelling errors, only my own smile

       

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    • Posted

      Thanks Paul!

      So the first ER Doctor basically said I was having anxiety - and had no other real problems despite me explaining my symptoms and history and thus prescribed me the low dose of Librium.

      He wasn't using critical thinking in my opinion.

      When the symptoms returned (mainly heart related) I returned to a different ER.

      There the attending physician told me I wasn't expierienceing withdrawals so much as a major deplition of potassium due to malabsorption and malnutrition (I wasn't eating very well and have GI issues).

      This caused the tachycardia, palpitations and arrhythmia.

      She gave me a high dose of potassium.

      She did not want to prescribe me Benzodiazepines invade I "relapsed" - which the last times I relapsed taking many months in between.

      I was sent home with the 600mg Gabbapentin 3x per day as a "safe and effective way to ease any cravings over the next few weeks" and to take the Librium if I was having anxiety.

      I took my 1st dose in the hospital which made me sleepy - and took the second 600mg at 12pm yesterday. It made me a complete brain fried zombie and I couldn't imagine taking it 3x a day for any length of time!!!

      I should have taken my next dose at 8pm - but skipped it. I slept well - woke up feeling fine.

      I'm on day 5 of sobriety and really did NOT want to trade my alcohol issues for dependence on a strong anticonvulsant!!! It also gave me terrible GI issues and if I was already having malabsorption and low potassium - wouldn't that compound the issue?

      I'm shocked she prescribed me this medication with no supervision - claiming how safe and benign it was.

      I have a GP appointment on the 10th and hoping I can get through the next few weeks eating well and taking supplements/probiotics to boost my vitamin intake.

      Thanks for your input and the inability to "edit" your previous posts is extremely annoying!!! I hate making typos! Haha

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    • Posted

      Actually, Gabapentin is given for all sorts of reasons and even to older people for peripheral neuropathy. My Dad is on 1800mg a day and he is 76 and frail. It helps with the severe pain in his hands and feet.

      It is normally pretty safe to use but, if you are getting certain side effects you should see a doctor. I'm sending you a link by private message for you to check if any of your side effects need reporting to the doctor.

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