Gabapentin is approved to prevent and control partial seizures, relieve postherpetic neuralgia after shingles and moderate-to-severe restless legs syndrome. Learn what side effects to watch for, drugs to avoid while taking gabapentin, how to take gabapentin and other important questions and answers. Gabapentin is available in both branded and generic forms.
Gabapentin is a prescription medication known as a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analogue. GABA reduces the excitability of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, which play a role in seizures and the transmission of pain signals. Gabapentin mirrors the effects of GABA calming excited neurons.
Gabapentin is in a class of medications called anticonvulsants.
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Gabapentin is available as both a brand name product and a generic product (chemically the same, usually lower cost than the brand name product). Brand names of gabapentin include Horizant®, Gralise® and Neurontin®.
Gabapentin is used to:
The branded gabapentin products Neurontin and Gralise are approved for partial seizures and PHN. The branded gabapentin enacarbil product Horizant is approved for restless legs syndrome and PHN.
Gabapentin is available as:
If you have any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away:
Common side effects of gabapentin include:
Talk to your healthcare provider if any side effects do not go away.
Serious breathing problems can happen if you take gabapentin with drugs that cause severe sleepiness or decreased awareness. Some examples include narcotic opioids, anti-anxiety medicines, antidepressants, and antihistamines. If you are 65 years of age or older and/or have a condition that affects your lungs, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), there is an increased risk for breathing problems. Watch for increased sleepiness or decreased breathing when you start taking gabapentin or when the dose is increased. Get help right away if you develop breathing problems.
Seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms develop:
Products that interact with gabapentin include:
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking gabapentin. Drinking alcohol with gabapentin could increase sleepiness or dizziness.
Never stop taking gabapentin without talking to your healthcare provider first. Stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause serious problems, including increasing your risk of seizures (if you are taking gabapentin to control seizures) or not improving your symptoms (if taking gabapentin for other indications). Also, never change your dose without talking to your provider first. Always take gabapentin exactly as prescribed.
Don’t drive, operate heavy machinery or do other dangerous activities after taking gabapentin until you know how it affects you.
Read the full prescription information leaflet that comes with your medication. Never hesitate to ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about gabapentin.
Tell your healthcare provider if you:
Inform your providers of all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter, as well as supplements, vitamins and herbal products.
It’s unknown if gabapentin can harm your unborn baby. For this reason, talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you know you are pregnant. You and your healthcare provider will determine if you should take gabapentin during your pregnancy or change to a different medication.
Yes, gabapentin does pass into breast milk. If you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your healthcare provider about breastfeeding or medication options.
Gabapentin is not a narcotic. It's not classified as a controlled substance in most states. (Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, and Virginia have reclassified gabapentin as a Schedule V controlled substance). Gabapentin is not an opioid.
Gabapentin is not addictive, but this doesn’t mean that gabapentin can’t be abused. A small number of studies have reported misuse and abuse of gabapentin.
Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms have been reported since the drug was approved. However, the individuals in these reports experienced symptoms after discontinuing higher-than-recommended doses of gabapentin and for uses for which the drug was not approved.
Overdoses on gabapentin have been reported. Individuals experienced double vision, slurred speech, drowsiness, diarrhea and sluggishness.
If you forget to take a dose of gabapentin, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s just a few hours before it’s time to take your next dose, take only one dose. Never take more than one dose in an attempt to catch up. If you have any concerns or questions, be sure to call your healthcare provider or pharmacist right away.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/01/2021.
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