What is gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription drug used along with other medications to help control certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy. Gabapentin capsules, tablets, and oral solutions are also used to relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN; the burning, stabbing pain or aches that may last for months or years after an attack of shingles).
Gabapentin extended-release tablets (Horizant) are used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS; a condition that causes discomfort in the legs and a strong urge to move the legs, especially at night and when sitting or lying down).
How Gabapentin works
Gabapentin belongs to a class of drugs called anticonvulsants. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
It’s not fully understood how gabapentin works. For postherpetic neuralgia, it seems to prevent the increase in sensitivity to pain that occurs. For seizures, it may alter the effect of calcium (low levels of calcium may cause seizures).
Gabapentin can produce feelings of relaxation, calmness, and euphoria. Some users have reported that the high from snorted gabapentin can be similar to taking a stimulant. It can also enhance the euphoric effects of other drugs, like heroin and other opioids, and is likely to increase the risks when taken in this way.
Gabapentin ruined my life is a common phrase among many users who experience the other side of this medication. In this article, we will be sharing some of those stories.
How Gabapentin Ruined My Life
Tom G shared his gabapentin experience as follows “Gabapentin was prescribed to me for sciatica pain in my right leg due to a herniated disc. After my very first dosage (a small amount), I felt very weird. Within 2 hours, I felt needles and electric shocks in my left arm. Nothing painful, just odd. Shortly after, my thoughts were everywhere and I had trouble concentrating. I went to sleep with no issues. I woke up the next day and couldn’t move my left arm. My shoulder was in excruciating pain. I didn’t sleep on it so I knew that couldn’t have been the reason. I asked my husband to come home to be with me because I was afraid of the thoughts I was having. The thoughts were frightening. Needless to say, I didn’t take any more gabapentin. The bad thoughts went away by the following day but the painful shoulder remains one week later. Hope it eases up soon. Because now I have serious pain on both sides of my body.”
Dae screamed gabapentin ruined my life, she wrote “I have idiopathic intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri). I took this medication gabapentin for 3 weeks. It caused terrible insomnia, and I already don’t sleep much due to pain as it is. More nausea, more vomiting, and more tiredness than I already had. Horrible stomach cramps. Racing thoughts, like my brain, was on hyper mode and wouldn’t shut up, yet I felt lethargic all the time. I had really shaky hands and was dropping and spilling things all over, precision movement was difficult, and I couldn’t even write properly. My legs were also very shaky, I had trouble just standing up, and my balance (which is already affected) got worse. I passed a lot of kidney stones during the time I took this medication, similar to what happened when I was on Diamox. I fainted more frequently. I experienced some involuntary eye movements, like my eyes would skip side to side at random, causing disorientation and more dizziness.”
For a nurse the story was not different she wrote “My anxiety & depression were well controlled on Cymbalta. I was put on Gabapentin for neuropathy, at first it helped with the pain in one spot, then as my dose was increased I began to experience side effects. 1) Even with taking it at 5 or 6 pm with food I would sleep for 14-17 hours 2)I could not remember things, I could not think straight. My intellect was impaired. I never could build up a tolerance for taking it in the daytime. 3) I became depressed & anxious—I feel like I lost weeks of my life I will never get back. 4) I had a creepy crawly sensation in my feet that felt like I was walking on sandpaper. I have been an RN for 42 years. I do not do recreational drugs, smoke, or abuse narcotics. I drink alcohol once or twice a ye”
Another gabapentin user who had a horrible experience wrote “Within hours of starting Gabapentin 400 MG…my feet and hands started swelling and my pain level increased twofold. Without knowing anything about any side effects, I started giving things away and lost all desire for things that I once cared about. My doctor was ill during this time and I stopped taking the drug on my own and now the pain level has decreased some but the swelling in my feet has NOT gone way and is quite DISABLING!!!. My quality of life has gone from not so good to horrible !.”
A gabapentin user identified Sim wrote “I have “fibromyalgia,” severe muscle pain from a twisted spine/congenitally deformed vertebrae. I was getting better with yoga, but hurt my back/rib muscles overdoing. I developed depression on gabapentin after a few weeks. At first, it dulled the pain and made me feel lightheaded, and I had memory problems. Then my anxiety increased and the pain continued and hit a real low. I spent two weeks in a psych ward until a brilliant psych nurse who believed in treating muscle pain. I am now recovering on a mix of Robaxin, a muscle relaxer, a low dose of valium for rib spasms, and Prozac and Remeron (for sleep) and hope to get off all of them once I can exercise again. Similar reaction to Lyrica four years ago.”
How should Gabapentin be taken?
Gabapentin comes as a capsule, a tablet, an extended-release (long-acting) tablet, and an oral solution (liquid) to take by mouth. Gabapentin capsules, tablets, and oral solutions are usually taken with a full glass of water (8 ounces [240 milliliters]), with or without food, three times a day.
Nerve pain from shingles: The recommended starting dose is 300 mg by mouth a day for 1 day, followed by 600 mg (300 mg twice a day) on day two, and then 900 mg (300 mg three times a day) on day 3. The dose can be raised or lowered depending on the balance between side effects and pain relief. The maximum total dose per day is 1800 mg.
Typical dosing for partial seizures is as follows:
Adults (12 years and older): The starting dose is 300 mg by mouth three times a day. The dose can be raised to a maximum of 3600 mg a day.
Children (3-11 years of age): Dosing for children will depend on the child’s weight. The starting dose range is generally 10 mg/kg to 15 mg/kg by mouth daily, split into three doses throughout the day. The dose will be raised over the next 3 days until the recommended dose is reached. The recommended dose range will depend on the child’s age and weight.
These medications should be taken at evenly spaced times throughout the day and night; no more than 12 hours should pass between doses. The extended-release tablet (Horizant) is taken with food once daily at about 5 PM. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take gabapentin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Gabapentin side effects
Some of the more common side effects that can occur with the use of gabapentin are listed below:
- viral infection
- nausea and vomiting
- trouble speaking
- jerky movements
Serious side effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
- Changes in mood or anxiety. Symptoms can include:
o thoughts of suicide or dying
o attempts to commit suicide
o anxiety that’s new or gets worse
o crankiness that’s new or gets worse
o panic attacks
o trouble sleeping
o aggressive or violent behavior
o extreme increase in activity and talking
o unusual changes in behavior or mood
- Changes in behavior and thinking, especially in children ages 3 to 12 years. Symptoms can include:
o emotional changes
o trouble concentrating
o changes in school performance
o hyper behavior
- Serious and life-threatening allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
o skin rashes
o swollen glands that do not go away
o swollen lips and tongue
o yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
o unusual bruising or bleeding
o severe tiredness or weakness
o unexpected muscle pain
o frequent infections
Gabapentin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication. If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. SEE: Gabapentin street price.