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Gabapentin For Opiate WD

Hi all,

I'm now 17 days clean of opiates. I was using 20ish 10/325s a day when I quit, with a habit that spanned over three years. Like many, this is not my first rodeo. I've tried to quit in the past and the lack of energy always nudged me back to those grievous little yellow pills.

I've seen some recent talk on the boards about Gabapentin being used to manage opiate withdrawal. This time around I've been using it and I wanted to share what I've experienced and learned, in hopes that others might find it helpful.

First, for those who have never heard of gabapentin: Neurontin is the brand name gabapentin is marketed under by Pfizer. It's an anti-convulsant and is approved to treat epilepsy and some neuropathic pain. From what I understand, it works by leveling out some of the peaks and valleys of brain energy, like a little Zamboni inside your head. Because of this, it has many other uses, as well. In fact, 90% of gabapentin sales are off label. What does "off label" mean? It means that there hasn't been enough conclusive research and testing done for the drug to be marketed as both effective AND safe.

That said, there's no denying that it works, or at least it did for me, in minimizing some of the more miserable symptoms of opiate withdrawal. The big three were anxiety, sleeplessness (and angels sang!), and RLS. I didn't suffer from any of them while detoxing, nor do I now. However, using gabapentin came with its own set of drawbacks.

Gabapentin causes fluid retention and weight gain in as many as 1 in 10 people. It certainly does with me. My ankles and hands swell up so that I can't get my wedding band on or off and my shoes don't fit. I've gained 10 lbs in a month. I have trouble with my knees and left ankle, and the swelling exacerbates the condition. Also, when I'm already feeling craptastic, the last thing I need is to not fit into half of my clothes.

Gabapentin can cause tummy troubles. Oh yayyyyyyyyyy!!!! Because we don't get enough of THAT, already.

Gabapentin, though helpful in scoring that ever-elusive eight hours of sleep a night, can also cause drowsiness during the day. With energy already being hard to come by for me, daytime drowsiness is no bueno.

Gabapentin can cause dizziness, vertigo, blurred vision, and/or tunnel vision in some people. In others like me, it causes a mild euphoric feeling. Wait, what?

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON.

That's right. Gabapentin can get you high. And does, if your brain's wired for it (in the same way my body's not wired to get anything from benzos). Not only that, but our bodies adjust to it frighteningly fast, to the point of having to double up the dose only a few days later in order to get the same effect. I'm sure you can see why this would be perilous territory for an addict.

There's a common misconception that with gabapentin, your body will just pee out whatever it doesn't use. That the drug is not metabolized does not mean it can be taken by the handful with impunity. You CAN overdose from this drug. Too much of it could launch you into a coma, and no one wants to see that happen.

Last but not least? Gabapentin should not be stopped cold turkey, otherwise it can bring on seizures, even if you're not epileptic. Also, the withdrawal symptoms are much like that of opiate withdrawal. Yuck.

If there's one thing I'm learning as I move away from opiates and toward a real life, it's that there are no quick fixes, no easy ways out. Anything that looks like one is an illusion. Gabapentin served its purpose during detox and for that I am immensely grateful. The further along the road I go with it, though, the more I see I am robbing Peter to pay Paul. At this point, I need to remove it from my life and replace it with patience.

Your mileage may vary.
14 Responses
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1855076 tn?1337115303
Relief from symptoms with gabapentin seem to be hit or miss.  I didn't use it for that but for nerve pain.  It was not a good drug for me.  Even at low doses I sounded drunk, had trouble word-finding and more.  It is not quite as benign as some people seem to think.
Helpful - 0
5763738 tn?1373846792
well it works wonders for me. I don't plan to use it after 4 days. Yes it makes me tired but it has stopped all the WD's. As far as the drunk feeling maybe a little but I can still work hard during the day. I am willing to take these side effects for 4 days. It's always a choice.
Michael
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Omg thank you for that post. I knew about the euphoric feeling that drug offers because my brother and husband neither of which are addicts like little old me take it for nerve pain. I was really toying with the idea of taking it for awhile to get my buzz since I'm struggling for a pick me up being on day six off opiates. Knowing there is e detox off of it has given me the strength to not try it today. I can't thank you enough. I just joined this site on my day 4 and it has been such a blessing. Thank you
Helpful - 0
5761335 tn?1374262330
After 10 years with the ending of 10-325's at 40 plus a day I used gabapentin for only my first 14 days. I have gobs left that are sitting here idle. After the 14 days I shut them off. Yes we are all different. I did have a drunken feeling the first two days. That was about all I can happily say for me. Today is day 35 for me now. 21 of them are now with nothing. No bad nothing now. i feel awesome so far and I hope forever ....No wait hope? I WILL.

As you said.

Your mileage may vary.

Thanks for pointing out all that you have.
It is appreciated.
Helpful - 0
5761335 tn?1374262330
I do have to find an alternative for my nerve damage when it does spike.
Because one slight wrong move and I do go down flat on my back for days.
My lower level L 4-5 is extremely close to bone on bone and the specialist suggest not to have double fusion over the one that I already have. he said that chances are I will not be able to bend plus I will continue to blow higher up out seeing that i have degenerative disc disease too boot.
Helpful - 0
5761335 tn?1374262330
I have tried a temporary block to see if that would work as well before doing a permanent one. No goodski for me. it failed to show any relief.

suggestions are welcome I am all ears.
Helpful - 0
5347058 tn?1381188426
Thank you for posting this. I used Gabapentin  briefly for nerve pain caused by my crippled back. It definitely made me feel 'high'. It also made me very 'shaky' and irritable. I quit taking it after about a week. Anyone who uses this drug to stave off wds needs to be very careful. Congrats on your time off of the vics, and good luck to you on your journey off the Gabapentin.
Helpful - 0
5761335 tn?1374262330
I also had a discogram to see what that specific area of my spine could withstand by blowing pressure on it. The Doc told me that a healthy person my size should be able to handle at least my weight in pressure which is approximately 250 lbs. I screamed at 25 lbs and my right leg went dead for almost 30 minutes after. I almost fell getting off the table. He then tried what is called a reverse discogram but could not get the needle in between the joints that's how close I am to being bone on bone at that level.

Just venting and trying to educate some who may share similar issues.
Helpful - 0
2 Comments
Education is sharing (in this case) a change, how, a victory over...and how. But I totally get the venting. And it’s also healthy. We all need to vent. I see a lot of education in your other post, awesome. Life comes with challenges. Why ?  I seriously don’t know.  Take care.
It get better !  Eventually....
When I struggle I go back to thinking of past victories and accomplishments
What ever works (without pills or other MAS )
Opiodsurvivor . . .  LOVE.  Thank you for this.  We do all have to find our own strategies. That you use your victories is . . . well, victorious.  Wish they had a like button, like with a heart.  
5761335 tn?1374262330
It scares me to think that maybe one day I will become paralyzed and wheel chair bound.
Helpful - 0
5761335 tn?1374262330
tears now
Helpful - 0
5761335 tn?1374262330
all because of my stupid choice of lifting heavy weight in the family business job that i tried to prove to my family that I was a bad arse and invincible.

If you are young and lift for a living be smart. Wear a brace, lift with your legs, don't twist the weight up as I did, and most important, drop it if it hurts, don't try to be HULK HOGAN.
Helpful - 0
5761335 tn?1374262330
At 18 I was strong after 13 years of lifting at 31 I was damaged. Now at 56 I am what I am.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
I like this.  We don't think about what we do to our bodies and spirits when we are younger and then later, we realize. Hope you are doing well today.  
Avatar universal
Congrats on 35! I'm glad gabapentin worked for you during detox, and that you're now chugging along without the help. I'm sorry to hear about your back, though. My L5 is a wreck too, due to degenerative disc disease. Like you, I'm not sure what I'm going to do to manage it at this point.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
hey bro have you ever had your liver checked for fibrosis?  reason I ask is I took a lot of pain killers and they had a lot of Tylenol in them and it damaged my liver real bad to the point of cirrhosis at 39.There were other factors like drinking and drugs but when u add those pills up each day it equals a ton of Tylenol.  im sure you are fine just giving you a heads up.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
Good point!  Something to check for sure. thanks
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