By The Recovery Village
Medical Reviewer Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD | Editor Jonathan Strum
Last Updated: May 16, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
A gabapentin taper is a safer alternative to stopping the drug cold turkey. However, your doctor should assist you during the process of tapering gabapentin.
If you take gabapentin and are looking to stop the drug, it is best to look into a gabapentin taper. A taper involves slowly decreasing your dose over time until you have stopped. Tapering is a safer alternative to quitting a drug cold turkey, as a taper can help you avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, you should speak with your doctor before attempting to taper your use of gabapentin. Your doctor can help create an individualized taper schedule that helps you wean off the drug safely and effectively.
What Is Gabapentin Used For?
Gabapentin was initially FDA-approved to treat seizures and postherpetic neuralgia, a type of chronic nerve pain that can occur after a shingles infection. However, it is also used off-label to treat other conditions, including diabetic nerve pain, restless legs syndrome and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Gabapentin Off-Label Uses
Gabapentin is prescribed off-label to treat many conditions, including:
- Alcohol use disorder (AUD)
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Diabetic nerve pain
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
Is Gabapentin Addictive?
Gabapentin is not considered an addictive drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and it is not a controlled substance. However, other experts are still debating about gabapentin’s addictive potential. Some states have disagreed with the federal government and classified gabapentin as a Schedule V substance on their own. These states include:
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
Other states have passed laws requiring that gabapentin prescriptions be reported into a state-run prescription drug monitoring database. These states include:
- Washington, D.C.
- New Jersey
Can You Stop Taking Gabapentin Cold Turkey?
You should not stop taking gabapentin cold turkey. If you regularly take gabapentin and suddenly quit the drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. This is especially true if you take a high dose of gabapentin.
In addition, quitting gabapentin cold turkey can cause problems with the medical condition that gabapentin was prescribed to treat, which may be dangerous in some cases. Instead of stopping the drug cold turkey, you should talk to your doctor about slowly decreasing your gabapentin over time — a process that usually takes at least a week.
Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms
Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms can occur when stopping the drug cold turkey, especially if you take a short-acting form of the drug. It is important to note that gabapentin comes as both a short-acting (IR) and long-acting (ER) drug. You have a higher risk of gabapentin withdrawal if you take a high dose of short-acting gabapentin on a regular basis and then quit.
Many people who go through gabapentin withdrawal do so because they use gabapentin to self-treat withdrawal symptoms from other substances, such as alcohol or opioids. These people often take excessively high gabapentin doses that are higher than recommended, putting them at risk for withdrawal when they try to stop.
Side Effects of Stopping Gabapentin
Although gabapentin withdrawal symptoms are rare and are generally limited to those who take high doses of the short-acting form of the drug, reported withdrawal symptoms can include:
These symptoms typically occur within one to two days of stopping the drug. However, more severe withdrawal symptoms are also possible. These can include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Seizures, especially if you have a prior history of seizures
How to Taper or Wean Off Gabapentin
If you’re wondering how to wean off gabapentin, the most important thing you can do is to talk with your doctor. Your doctor can develop a taper regimen to help you taper off gabapentin and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, your doctor may elect to switch you to a different drug, such as pregabalin. If this is the case, your doctor might prescribe you a cross-taper, which is when your gabapentin dose is slowly lowered while the dose of your new medication is slowly increased.
Talking to your doctor is especially important if you are taking gabapentin to treat seizures, as stopping gabapentin can cause your condition to flare or worsen.
Gabapentin Tapering Schedule
Gabapentin taper instructions can vary widely from person to person, and there is no one-size-fits-all method of weaning off gabapentin. However, a taper should generally last at least a week, if not longer.
Consider this sample gabapentin taper chart for someone taking the max dose of 3600 mg total daily dose and tapering using 300 mg capsules:
|Day of taper||Tapering gabapentin dosage|
|Day 0||3600 mg (before taper starts)|
|Day 1||3300 mg|
|Day 2||3000 mg|
|Day 3||2700 mg|
|Day 4||2400 mg|
|Day 5||2100 mg|
|Day 6||1800 mg|
|Day 7||1500 mg|
|Day 8||1200 mg|
|Day 9||900 mg|
|Day 10||600 mg|
|Day 11||300 mg|
|Day 12||Stop gabapentin — taper complete|
Finding a Gabapentin Detox Center in South Jersey
If you or a loved one is struggling with gabapentin and trying to stop the drug, help is available at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper. Using a full continuum of care, our addiction experts can help you get off and stay off gabapentin for good. Our medical detox program can help wean you off gabapentin, while our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs can help you maintain your sobriety over the long term. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options that can work well for your situation.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.
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