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Gabapentin Use – The Signs and Symptoms

what are the signs of gabapentin abuse

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Gabapentin, also known as GPN, is an anticonvulsant. Doctors prescribe it to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, hot flashes, and restless leg syndrome.
During an epileptic attack, or similar situations, certain chemicals in the brain can trigger seizures. As a result, Gabapentin use plays a role in that it decreases the severity of these types of attacks.
They sell Gabapentin under various brand names. They include Gralise, Horizant, and Neurontin. This drug is not on the list of controlled substances in the United States. However, it has several properties similar to certain commonly abused intoxicants. As a result, it can produce withdrawal symptoms despite the calming gabapentin high effect.

Table of Contents

How To Spot Gabapentin Use Signs?

It’s a fact that Gabapentin is a prescription drug. There was a study performed on patients in Florida at a correctional facility in 2004. It showed that less than 20% of Gabapentin owners got the drug via a prescription from their doctor.
Pay attention to the following signs of Gabapentin use:

  • Dizziness
  • Poor coordination
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Rapid mood changes
  • Speaking difficulty
  • Constantly switching doctors in order to get new recipes
  • Changes in social behavior and habits, social withdrawal
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Constant preoccupation with the drug – finding ways to obtain more
  • Panic at just a thought drug is unavailable
  • Refusal to quit even though social, financial and legal consequences are obvious
  • Multiple failed attempts to quit
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Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Gabapentin Use

There are certain signs and symptoms related to Gabapentin use. However, before jumping to conclusions, make sure to observe the addict thoroughly.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of Gabapentin use are:

  • Sleepiness
  • Runny nose
  • Nervousness
  • Aggressive, hostile behavior
  • Dry mouth
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • General body weakness

Long Term Side Effects of Gabapentin Use

Gabapentin can cause numerous long-term side effects. In fact, these problems can emerge in individuals who use Gabapentin without prescription.
Long-term effects of Gabapentin may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Visual changes – double vision
  • Clumsiness
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Poor concentration
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Hands or feet swelling
  • Impaired motor functions
  • Severe rash
  • Breathing difficulties – chest pain, shortness of breath
  • Liver problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Coma
  • Seizures

Stopping Gabapentin Abuse

Stopping Gabapentin abuse is not so easy. Carefully approach the addicted person in need and let him/her know that they can solve the problem. In addition, they are not alone.
The Signs and Symptoms of Gabapentin Use
First, consult a professional who can help develop a strategy. What’s more, they can provide controlled, safe conditions. Then, they usually perform some form of Detox. They do it by gradually decreasing one’s Gabapentin dosage. They do this in order to avoid unnecessary strain on the brain. If it is necessary, they can institutionalize the treatment. This is where they monitor the user with a professional staff.
After complete detoxification, a lot of work is still ahead. The former user has to learn how to lead a normal life. As a result, they can deal with stress without developing a need for Gabapentin use again. A huge help can be found in therapy groups and meetings. This can help one build self-confidence and perseverance.

  1. Gabapentin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  2. Svein I.Johannessen. Handbook of Analytical Separations. Volume 5, 2004, pp 221-253.
  3. Trinka E, Niedermuller U, Thaler C, Doering S, Moroder T, Ladurner G, Bauer G. Gabapentin-induced moodchanges with hypomanicfeatures in adults. Seizure 2000;9: 505–508.
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Olivier George

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.


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  • peter
    i was given gaba about 2 months ago for restless leg and am having side effects muscle weakness body aches memory lapses fatigue etc. I am on 100mg a day want to stop but rls is scary and might return I guess have to choose which is lesser of two evils. thanks for your imput.
    • Emma
      I’ve been on Gabapentin for RLS for 2-3 years now. I started at 600 mg every night, but I’ve decreased to 300 mg every night in the past year or so, and it’s just as effective. I’ve had a lot of bloodwork done (most recently in mid-March of this year) and all of my organs are functioning properly. Of course, it’s different for everyone, but I hope I can give you a little peace of mind.
      • Matt
        Yeah I’m on 2400 daily and coming off wasn’t bad honestly
    • BLMaz
      My hubby has RLS and he’s on requip. It works well for him I hope you find a answer to change your meds.
    • Matt
      I’m on 2400 mg daily and I was able to get off fairly easy with a taper schedule, so far no withdrawals and been 2 weeks
  • Jerry A. Hall
    I am looking to see if gabapentin use causes hair loss. I use 100mg three times a day. In all the side-effects listed, I cannot find hair loss as a common side-effect.
    • James Carbary
      Your hair loss is more than likely due to a side effect of a vitamin deficiency, which is more than likely due to the medical condition that you are being treated for, which caused you doctor to prescribe the gabapentin in the first place. If you are disabled by your medical condition and/or you are stuck indoors, you can become deficient in Vitamin-D, due to lack of exposure to sunlight. In addition, you may not be receiving enough Vitamin-C, so you may be suffering from Scurvy like symptoms; bleeding gums, loose teeth, Etc… You body also needs to take in the proper Vitamins AND Minerals that compliment the Vitamins and Minerals that your body is deficient in, in order for the replacement Vitamins AND Mineral Supplements that you need to take because your body is deficient in them, in order for those Vitamin AND Mineral Supplements to work properly in the first place.What that means is that if you are missing Vitamin-A in your diet, you may need to take a Vitamin-A, a Vitamin-D, and a Selenium supplement, in order for the Vitamin-A to be absorbed properly into your body without it being just secreted away in your urine, because your body doesn’t have what it needs in order for it to be able to process and use the Vitamin-A Supplement that your taking. (This is just a made up example to illustrate my point, this is NOT an actual medical example)DO YOUR RESEARCH. Vitamins and Vitamin Deficiency is a very complicated subject, BUT, there are very good charts readily available out there on the internet that you can find with a little searching that illustrate exactly what happens if your body is deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, and which Vitamin and Mineral Supplements that you need to take in combination in order to correct a specific Vitamin Deficiency in your body.DO NOT take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements without doing your research FIRST. You can make yourself very sick or even sicker, or even poison yourself, if you take too much of certain Vitamin and Mineral Supplements, and you can even permanently damage your organs if you take too much of certain things, especially if you are sick in the first place so your body is compromised because your organs are not working properly in the first place. Also look into whether you should NOT be taking certain Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in combination with any medications that you may be taking for a medical condition. Taking too much Vitamin-B Supplements for example can make your Insulin shots work too fast if you are a diabetic and this could cause a reaction. It is just like you are NOT supposed to eat Grapefruit when you are going to take certain medications because it will cause a medical reaction.ALSO, do your research when you buy vitamins and supplements, and only buy them from a RELIABLE name brand and source. The prices that they charge and the and ingredients in over the counter vitamin supplements vary widely, from very cheap to extremely expensive. CONSUMERS BEWARE, because you can be ripped off or cheated on content and price and you will not see any benefits because your body just pases out what it can not use, or it can make you very sick by building up in your body because it can not be secreted easily, like the metals in Mineral Supplements (such as Copper), depending on what is in them, so more is NOT necessarily better for you.GOOD LUCK.
    • Thomas Maio
      No hair miss side affect !! Believe me been on it for years
    • barry
      After taking 300mg/daily of gabapentin my hair began to fall out. I searched the internet about it and there were many others who had the same complaint, they called it “hair fall”. I would run my hand through my hair and 5-10 stands of hair would fall out each time…coming out from the root! I asked my primary care, who looked it up on the database provided to doctors and hair loss was not listed as a side effect. I took biotin and vitamins, they didn’t help. It’s a year later and I see my hair growing back in wisps along my hair line. The only Dr. that really had a grip on this was the dermatologist who said “STRESS” was probably the biggest factor. But there are tons of comments out there from gabapentin users saying the hair loss is dramatic after taking the drug for 3 months. My fingernails started to split as well…coconut oil helps with that. Good luck. I bought wigs on amazon, but I never had to use them. My hair got thin, but after a year and a half, it seems to be sprouting back.
  • louise c smith
    Presently taking 600 mg of gabapebnten for nerve pain from shingles and having quite a bit of memory loss. Wondering if when I stop taking this medication will the memory loss stop. Would appreciate any help in this matter
    • Richie
      I had those issues which corrected quickly after adjusting the dose. Honestly I take it as needed over three times a day everyday now. It works better when I take it for one, two no sides this way.
    • Conrad
      Hi. Another great answer for subduing shingles outbreak is amino acids especially Lysine known for managing Herpes virus which shingles is one of. Do your research ask a naturopath or allopathic doctor.
      • Cheryl Gargasz
        L-Lysine is one amino acid suppliment that I never run out of! Two weeks ago I had a cold sore/Herpes virus starting to tingle and flare up, so I doubled up on my L-LYSINE and it was gone the very next day!
        • Jennifer
          Good advise! Thank you!
  • Anonymous
    I was on Gabapentin for years due to nerve avulsion and neuropathy. Doctor had me prescribed for every 3 hours just to get through the day so it was serious to say the least. Gabapentin causes irreversible hair loss (Alopecia )which I had as a side effect as well as static acne. Unfortunately there was no alternative. I am off it now but between the acne and hair loss it is something I’ve had to come to terms with. I barely turned 30 today and my entire family has had a full head of hair till 95 years old. Gabapentin 100% causes hair loss and acne. Just be aware of the permanent effects and weigh your options.
    • Emma
      It’s not 100%. I’ve been on it for 2-3 years and have had no side effects other than grogginess, which I’ve fixed in other ways. I’m not trying to belittle your experience – in fact, I’m terribly sorry you experienced that – but I want to point out that those side effects aren’t guaranteed.
    • Jennifer
      So sorry to hear of experience! Thank you kindly for the info! I just started it for pain du to a surgery. It will be very short term for me. Praying this will turn around for you! Check into supplements for your ailments . Good luck to you!!
  • sylvia
    anonyous have been on gab since august 2018 now at 9oo mg per day am experiencing trembers ,shakes,and jerky movements can perscribed by doc in pain clinic can this be side effect ,they come and go are now worse and more often and last longer
  • jbreanne
    I have been on gabepenton for 9 months for anxiety/depression and also experience acne that I never had before in my life and hair thining, I have also notice it slows me down and overall lowers my motivation and my metabolism which causes slight weight gain. I tapered myself off of 300mg twice a day and today is finally my second day of nothing but the withdrawal is strengthy!
  • Lady E J
    Been taking it for almost a month now and today wasn’t a good day for me, been feeling sleepy and dizzy all day just not myself not too pleased with it. I have diabetes nephropathy and fibromyalgia not sure if I am going to continue taking this medication
  • Cecile Romero
    I have been on Gaba for many years now and when I don’t take my dose I get really bad headaches, I want to stop this drug once and for all but too afraid of the withdrawals I may have from not taking it. If anyone out there knows what I can do about this I would appreciate and advice!!!
    • tina bravata
      I have been taking Gaba for 8 months.300mg three times a day. Doctor prescribed for my migraines and fibromyalgia I’ve had for 16 years due to a car wreck which I’ve had surgery on C5 and C6. No other medicine worked, Gaba has helped me with the migraines but my body not my head stays in pain.I refuse to live on pain medicine. I’ve have tried many natural supplements with no help, still trying. I’m experiencing a little side effects but worth not living with migraines. I’ve just ordered Ribose and magnesium. read up on these, with Dr. T. for fibromyalgia, headaches, body aches etc.
  • Kathie
    I just read the side effects of gabapentin …..I take 600mg 3 times a day…..I’ve been so dizzy I can’t stand up….I’ve been very confused and I’m sure I’m going to stop taking this crap….I’ll deal with the restless legs….Also my face is breaking out badly….I feel worse then before I started taking this ! Not happy at all !!!!
  • Cindy
    How to wean off gabapentin 2400 daily for a couple years…..need to get off
    • Valentina
      I am tapering off gabapentin ( 2400mg daily ) like youself and it’s minus 100mg pr week I am now on 600 mg a day and have some weeks to go yet and the strange thing is , the low dose works the same as the high dose.I can’t wait to get off this horrible medicine .Saying that , it has worked wonders for me but too many side effects to cope with.If you taper off very slowly you should be fine.Good luck to you
  • Didier Michot
    I was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis in January 20018 and paralyzed on the right side, 50% on the left. Mostly through rehab I have regained up to 75% of mobility but the neuropathy and spasms are severe at times. I have recently changed neurologist and he moved my Gabapentin from 300mg for a year to 1200mg for the past 3 weeks. I can feel some improvements. No side effects that I can quantify. I will report in a couple of weeks if anything substantial happens. Good luck to all of you.
  • Will Haggard
    I’m currently at 3200 mg. a day for neuropathy. It’s been a godsend as the walking on hot coals sensation is very painful. I’ve been taking it for about 3 years and I’m pretty much at the safe limit and a little worried about life down the road.
    • Greg Grude
      Will, I have been on this Med for 25 years, 800mg 4 x a day. I have had slight weight weight gain but other that no side effect. Don’t know where I would be without it.
  • Nancy goddard
    Hi can I just ask you did you come of them on your own or was ot with your doctors help I really need to come of these tablets but I’m scared to do it
  • Ralph Brewer
    I’ve taken 2700mg of gabapentin daily due to CRPS from a complex wrist injury two years ago. I notice decreased coordination and excessive tiredness when taking 900mg an hour before bed. But within the past three months I’ve been having some chest pain/discomfort… no acute cardiac condition according to the ED physician. Could it be related to such a long period of taking gabapentin, maybe? The drug really does the job with the CRPS pain and it’s honestly been a miracle for me. I haven’t been without it except for a few days here-and-there but never noticed any withdrawal symptoms… of course other than extreme nerve shocks/pain…. of course I take it to control that.
    • Hope Koplin
      Did your CRPS never get better or go away totally
  • Veronica Lowe
    I have been on gabapentin for 15 years I am currently on 3600 mg a day. I was prescribed it because of a stroke that I had and have very bad nerve pain. I swear by it, with all of the talk about the side effects it’s funny that I really have not experienced much except some of the tremors
    • John O Olsen
      Hi Veronica, I have also been taking the Dr prescribed amount of 3600 mg per day for 13 years. The medication was prescribed to address anxiety and depression related to the diagnoses of bi-polar disorder. My new wife is an RN and is constantly yelling at me for taking this medication. Her insistence that I talk with her son is constantly being yelled at me. She believes he is extremely genius at researching and using tools outside of the average search engines , and furthermore develops a non bias view of the facts which he believes are not exposed or able to be found due to a purposed pharmaceutical effort to hide key information about the outcome of long term effects from Gabapentin. This is first of all, disturbing due to the fear of the suggested outcomes he may share, but even more alarming is the thoughts of adjusting to life without the medication and the process of getting there! If anyone has any information on the possibilities of long term ( 10 years +) serious permanent neurological damage that will eventually lead to multiple other health failures, please know that your time taken to share what you have found to be true will help thousands of others make the best choices to ensure that they remain healthy and available for family with many years to come. Thanks, John
  • Nicole Mitchell
    I’ve just started taking gabapentin 2 days ago. 300mg pills 3x daily for trigeminal neuralgia..I’ve experienced drowsiness only…does other side effects hit later?
  • nancy ferguson
    How is Gabapentin different from Lrycia.. I was on Lrycia twice a day but aak my doctor about switching . Went from 50mg 2x on lrycia to 300mg Gabapentin 2x a day.
  • Alessa
    I notice I get nauseous even after I eat I’m at 300mg but take two for the leg pain and also noticed I’m a bit more clumsy I barely started last week.
  • Stephanie
    Any body take this with Vyvanse?
  • LaVonne Tuell
    I took Gabapentin for a couple of months for pain in my back and hips. I noticed a marked loss of sense of smell and taste. All food and drink smell and taste horrible. Have been off the stuff for about 3 months and still have no normal sense of taste and smell. Everything smells awful, even soap, shampoo, all food and drink. It is causing me lots of trauma and concern. Anyone else experience this? What can reverse it?
  • Theresa Akpowowo
    I have been taken gabapentin for 3 months. My weight gain is rapid My neuropathy pain is worst at night. I will like to stop the gabapentin
  • Bevmo
    I’ve been on gabapentin for 5 months after L4-L5 spinal fusion. I went from 900 mg a day to 1800 after they took me off the morphine. I have a new appreciation for depression (I’ve never been depressed before in my life) and had thoughts of why jumping off the GG bridge might in fact be a good idea. Weaned myself off it with little help from the doctor. I had to request 100mg capsules instead of 300mg. Slowly reduced to 100 mg per day over 3 months. I quit 10 days ago and still having terrible insomnia, heart palpitations, afternoon fatigue and headaches with intense pressure around my eyes. The brain fog is so bad that I can barely read and comprehend an email and my face is breaking out. This is the worst drug ever. I’d rather wean off of opioids. If you can use a different pain/nerve blocker do it.
  • Karen
    I just started GABA a few days ago and my taste buds have come back to life. All of a sudden I like food again. I haven’t liked food for over a year now. I lost 40 pounds. I don’t want to gain it back. I am very tired though. To me so far this drug is amazing!
  • Daniel
    I am taking about 9600mg – 12,800mg per day, so That is concerning news,Bevmo. What should I do? I am a prior opioid addict who got clean.
  • Esther Robbins
    Has anyone out there been prescribed Gabapentin for severe anxiety? I was prescribed 1600mg daily, which made me feel so very ill. I have been off of the medication for some time now, but still have problems with anger, frustration, paranoia. Anyone out there experienced any of this?
  • Ronalee Frost
    After talking with my pharmacist I decided to get off neurontin (1800mg). It was so hard and I was sick for a long time. Then one day after I weaned off I took a dose and my pain was quickly relieved. So I’m back on, but I sleep walk with no memory. I take medications, move things, I woke up one night in the kitchen with with bread and a sharp knife in my hand. Anyone else sleepwalk. I’m fearful, I have to get off again.
  • Niki
    I have been on neurotin since I was 17 and I am now 29. I went to bed one night healthy as could be and I woke up 4 days later in the ICU unit of our local hospital. I was then informed that I was epileptic. Apparently I had flat lined twice, Ativan, valium and other anticonvulsant drugs were not bringing me out of the seizures and so they incubated me. Since that day I have been on Klonopin 1mg, keppra 500mg and 400mg neurotin. I hate it. I hate all three. Doctor’s have tried wiening me off of both the Klonopin and neurotin several times but I always end up in ICU back on life support. I would recommend that those considering being placed on neurotin to weigh their options very carefully. The neurotin over the years has caused my dopamine levels and my serotonin levels to drop drastically. I m now dealing w symptoms that are similar to early onset Parkinson’s disease. Any neurological medicine in my opinion is extremely dangerous because although alot of the damage can be reversed simply by a doctor safely pulling you off the medications but sometimes that isn’t an option. So although I am not physically or mentally addicted to the medications it seems my brain has grown dependant on the neurotin and Klonopin.
  • liza
    my 81 years old mom with stage 5 Kidney disease, developed shingles, her nephrologist and an internist decided to describe her 100 mg gabapentin, and valtrex 500mg. with one dose my mother ended up in the ER with all the side effects listed. she’s been there 2 days now, after all the tests conclusion is that Gabapentin was the cause of her confusion, complete muscle loss, severe jolt muscle movement. my question will be, how long would that one dose of gabapentin will linger in her system and will she ever be able to walk again, as of right now she can’t even stand up. Thank
  • douglas
    This drug is addictive and even thought the withdrawals aren’t too bad if you taper its still not pleasant. I needed to stop taking it due to memory loss, swelling in feet in ankles, for hygiene , a general preoccupation with getting and obtaining a steady supply, expense, kidney issues, shortness of breath, chest pain, back pain and a host of other symptoms. like many drugs it worked grata first but after 8 years it just became a way to feel better mentally. Get off this if you can its not worth it.
  • LZ
    Only taking 100mg twice a day and the side effects are horrific. I do not leave my room for days. Have lost interest in everything. Attempted to taper down twice, the withdraw is unbelievable. This poison should be BANNED!
  • Kendra Hypes
    I was prescribed neurontin for 3 or 4 years. I started abusing them and was taking about 6 to 8 800mg daily. I ran out and went 4 days without, on the 5th day I was able to get some and took 1 300mg. I felt like I had too a handful of 800s. It made me really sick but I did feel better and the withdrawals were gone but I was scared of over medicating myself so the next day I only too half the 300mg and it done the same thing. On the 3rd day I took even less, maybe about 100mg. and I started having adverse reactions to it. I felt very bad and started having seizures. It was like I couldn’t get the neurontin back in my system fast enough. Everything I took, even over the counter meds, made me have adverse effects. It’s been 8 months now and I’m still having a very hard time. I became tachycardic about 3 months ago. My doctor put me back on a heart pill that I had took before, toprol. After a week of only taking 1/4 of what I was prescribed I started having adverse effects on it and had to quit taking it. I’ve been very depressed and my energy level is so low.. I wish I knew what was wrong me and could fix the problem. I just want my life back.