Medication Withdrawal

How Long Does Gabapentin Stay In Your System? – All You Need To Know

Last Updated on 21.07.2023

What is Gabapentin and its Uses?

Gabapentin is a widely prescribed medication primarily used to treat various neurological conditions. As an anticonvulsant and analgesic drug, it is employed in managing epilepsy, neuropathic pain, restless legs syndrome, and certain mood disorders. Over the years, it has gained popularity due to its efficacy in addressing these conditions, but questions often arise about how long does Gabapentin stay in your system and the associated withdrawal symptoms of Gabapentin.

In this article, we will provide you with all the information needed about this medication.

Gabapentin Withdrawal Illustration

Gabapentin Drug Class and Mechanism of Action

Classified as an anticonvulsant, Gabapentin functions as a valuable therapeutic agent in managing various neurological disorders due to its unique mechanism of action. The drug primarily targets specific neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an essential inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating nerve activity within the central nervous system. By enhancing the effects of GABA, Gabapentin effectively stabilizes abnormal electrical activity that can give rise to seizures and neuropathic pain.

The modulation of GABA by Gabapentin results in a calming effect on hyperactive nerve signals, which is particularly beneficial in managing epileptic seizures. The drug’s ability to dampen excessive electrical impulses in the brain helps prevent the rapid and uncontrolled firing of neurons, thereby reducing the occurrence and intensity of seizures in individuals with epilepsy.

Gabapentin Dosage and Effects

Recommended Dosage for Nerve Pain and other conditions

Gabapentin requires careful consideration of the appropriate dosage. For nerve pain, the recommended dosage typically starts at Gabapentin 100 mg, with gradual titration up to find the optimal therapeutic level. The dosage may vary depending on the severity of the pain and the individual’s response to the treatment.

However, it is crucial to be aware of the maximum dose of Gabapentin for adults, which should not exceed the prescribed limit within a 24-hour period to prevent potential adverse effects and complications.

Maximum Dose of Gabapentin for Adults

The appropriate dosage of Gabapentin for adults is dependent on the condition being treated and individual factors such as weight, age, and overall health. Physicians typically start with a low dose and gradually increase it to achieve the desired therapeutic effect while minimizing adverse reactions. However, it is crucial to be mindful of the maximum recommended dosage to prevent potential overdose or adverse effects. Additionally, knowledge of the drug’s half-life and elimination from the body is essential in determining safe dosing intervals and minimizing the risk of Gabapentin withdrawal and its accompanying symptoms.

Here are the dosages commonly used by adults.


DosageMaximum DoseComments
Initial: 300 mg orally 3 times/day2400 to 3600 mg/dayDoses up to 2400 mg/day well-tolerated in long-term studies; doses of 3600 mg/day used for a short duration.
Maintenance: 300 to 600 mg orally 3 times/day

Postherpetic Neuralgia (Immediate-release)

DosageMaximum DoseComments
Initial: 300 mg orally once1800 mg/dayExtended-release: Gralise 1800 mg/day.
Maintenance: 900 to 1800 mg/day orally in 3 divided doses

Postherpetic Neuralgia (Extended-release)

DosageMaximum Dose
Extended-release (Gralise):
Day 1: 300 mg with the evening meal1800 mg
Day 2: 600 mg with the evening meal
Days 3-6: 900 mg with the evening meal
During Days 7-10: 1200 mg with the evening meal
Days 11-14: 1500 mg with the evening meal
Maintenance: 1800 mg with the evening meal
Extended-release (Horizant):1200 mg/day
Initial: 600 mg once a day
Maintenance: 600 mg twice a day

Restless Leg Syndrome:

DosageMaximum DoseComments
600 mg once daily with food at about 5 PM600 mgOnly Horizant approved for RLS; 1200 mg/day not shown to provide additional benefit.

Always follow the prescribed dosage and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized treatment recommendations.

Potential Side Effects and Risks of High Doses

While Gabapentin can offer significant relief for various conditions, using high doses can increase the risk of adverse effects. Some common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • coordination issues
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

It is crucial to adhere to the prescribed dosage to minimize these risks. Therefore, it is essential for patients to work closely with their healthcare providers to find the most appropriate dosage and gradually taper off the medication if needed to avoid withdrawal-related complications. Understanding the proper dosing, effects, and potential risks of Gabapentin is vital in ensuring safe and effective treatment for those in need of its therapeutic benefits.

How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System?

How long Gabapentin stays in your system can vary based on various factors, including dosage, frequency of administration, individual metabolism, and kidney function. Here is a table summarizing the general elimination times for Gabapentin:

Dosage FormElimination Half-LifeTime for Gabapentin to be Mostly Cleared from the System
Immediate-release capsules/tablets5 to 7 hoursApproximately 1 to 2 days
Extended-release tablets7 to 8 hoursApproximately 1.5 to 3 days

Please note that these are approximate times and can vary among individuals. The half-life indicates the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. However, it may take several half-lives for the drug to be almost entirely cleared from the system.

Factors that can affect Gabapentin clearance include kidney function, age, weight, and the presence of other medications or substances that interact with its metabolism. It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding the dosage and use of Gabapentin to ensure safe and effective treatment. Always consult your healthcare professional for personalized advice on drug clearance and potential interactions.

Drug Testing and Detection Periods for Gabapentin

When it comes to drug testing, Gabapentin may not be included in standard drug panels. It is not a controlled substance in many regions and may not be routinely tested for in standard employment or probation drug screenings.

However, there are specialized tests that can detect Gabapentin in urine or blood, particularly in cases where there may be concerns about abuse or diversion.

The detection of Gabapentin in drug tests depends on the type of test administered. Saliva tests do not usually detect Gabapentin, while urine tests are more likely to find traces of the drug. Gabapentin can be detected in urine for a period of 1 to 3 days after use. On the other hand, hair tests are unlikely to detect Gabapentin, but in some cases, it may be identifiable for up to 90 days.

Ensuring Accurate Test Results and False-Positive Prevention

If individuals have been legitimately prescribed Gabapentin, they may wonder whether the drug will show up on a urine drug test. To ensure accurate test results, individuals should disclose all medications they are taking, including Gabapentin, to the testing facility.

This information allows the testing agency to interpret the results correctly and prevents potential false-positive readings.

Legal and Ethical Implications of Cheating Drug Tests

Attempting to cheat or tamper with a urine drug test can have serious legal and ethical consequences. Cheating on a drug test, such as using adulterants or trying to substitute someone else’s urine, is considered unethical and may lead to severe disciplinary actions or legal penalties. In professional settings, cheating on a drug test can result in job loss or other adverse employment actions.

Moreover, legal systems and probation departments often have strict policies regarding drug test compliance, and failing to adhere to these guidelines can lead to further legal troubles. It is essential to prioritize honesty and transparency when faced with a urine drug test, as it reflects integrity and responsible behavior in various aspects of life.

Should A Person Tell the Employer About Taking Prescribed Gabapentin?

Whether or not a person should inform their employer about taking prescribed Gabapentin is a complex matter that involves both the employer’s concerns and the legal rights of the employee. From the employer’s perspective, there may be genuine apprehensions about the medications their employees are using while on the job, particularly in case of potential medical emergencies or concerns about job performance and safety.

However, employees have legal protections under laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These laws safeguard employee health information and prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals with physical or mental health conditions who can perform their job duties effectively.

Regarding privacy and disclosure, employers do not have a broad right to access an employee’s medical information or prescriptions. Medical privacy laws, including HIPAA and the ADA, do not require employees to disclose their medical information to employers.

In most cases, employers cannot inquire about an employee’s medical diagnosis or the medications they are taking, except in specific limited circumstances. It is crucial for employees to be aware of their rights and understand that they have legal protections when it comes to medical privacy in the workplace.

If employees have concerns about disclosing their prescription medication use to their employer, they should consult with legal or human resources professionals to ensure their rights are upheld and respected.

Gabapentin Withdrawal and Symptoms

Gabapentin withdrawal occurs after discontinuing the anticonvulsant drug Neurontin. Here are specific details:

Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Onset within 12 hours, lasting up to 7 days
  • Agitation, confusion, sweating, tremors, fast heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues


  • High doses of gabapentin use
  • History of substance abuse or psychiatric disorders

Coping Steps:

  • Seek medical attention for severe symptoms
  • Consider resuming normal gabapentin dose under medical supervision
  • Taper off gradually to avoid severe withdrawal
  • Discuss risks and benefits with a healthcare provider
  • For long-term support, consult psychologists, psychiatrists, or addiction treatment centers
  • Consider inpatient detox if pre-existing conditions or complicated withdrawals are present
  • Pregnant individuals should consult their obstetrician about tapering down safely

Remember to reach out for emergency medical attention if needed and seek professional support for a comprehensive recovery plan.

Gabapentin Addiction and Treatment

Gabapentin Misuse and Addiction

While Gabapentin is generally considered a safe medication when used as prescribed, there is a potential for misuse and addiction. Some individuals may develop a psychological or physical dependence on the drug, leading to compulsive use despite negative consequences. Understanding the risk factors and signs of Gabapentin misuse is crucial in identifying potential addiction issues early on.

Misuse may involve taking higher doses than prescribed, using the medication without a valid medical reason, or combining it with other substances to enhance its effects. Recognizing the potential for addiction is the first step towards seeking appropriate treatment and support for those struggling with Gabapentin addiction.

More Treatment Options for Gabapentin Addiction

Addressing Gabapentin addiction often requires a comprehensive and individualized approach to recovery. Treatment options may include behavioral therapies, counseling, and support groups. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing have shown promising results in helping individuals overcome addiction and make positive behavioral changes. Medical professionals may also recommend tapering off Gabapentin gradually to manage withdrawal symptoms during the recovery process.

In severe cases, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs can provide a structured and supportive environment for individuals seeking to break free from addiction. Combining different treatment modalities based on the individual’s unique needs can significantly enhance the chances of successful recovery from Gabapentin addiction.


In conclusion, understanding how long Gabapentin stays in your system is vital for making informed decisions about its use, potential interactions, and withdrawal risks. Gabapentin serves as a valuable treatment option for various neurological conditions, such as nerve pain and epilepsy, but it is essential to adhere to the recommended dosage to avoid adverse effects and prevent potential addiction issues.

Additionally, being aware of Gabapentin’s metabolism, clearance factors, and potential detection periods in drug testing can help individuals navigate its presence in their bodies accurately. Moreover, for those seeking recovery from Gabapentin addiction, tailored treatment plans and therapies offer hope and support on the path to reclaiming a drug-free life. Lastly, if faced with a urine drug test, honesty, and transparency are paramount, as attempting to cheat or tamper with the test can lead to serious legal and ethical consequences.

Overall, understanding the intricacies of Gabapentin’s effects, usage, and presence in the body empowers individuals to make responsible choices concerning their health and well-being.

Valeria Chambers
Valeria Chambers
Sr. Community Researcher, Health Equity Research Lab, Cambridge Health Alliance at Transformation Center

Valeria Chambers is the founder of Black Voices: Pathways4Recovery, a statewide advocacy network for Black and African Americans. With 18 years of experience as a certified peer specialist, she brings her personal recovery journey to her work as a senior community researcher at the Health Equity Research Lab and a peer consultant at the MGH COE. Valeria also serves as an educational trainer for the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. As a 2020/2021 fellow at the Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, she focuses on culturally relevant mindfulness practices for Black and African Americans. Valeria holds a BS in psychology and education from Tufts University, an EdM from Harvard University, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in pastoral care, counseling, and cross-cultural psychology.