Among the most common is weight gain. Whether it’s due to increased appetite or water retention, there are various reasons why certain prescription drugs cause you to gain some unwanted pounds. But what about gabapentin? Does gabapentin cause weight gain?
Also known by brand names like Neurontin and Gralise, gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat seizure disorders like epilepsy and alleviate nerve pain caused by conditions like shingles. As an anti-seizure medication, gabapentin alters electrical activity in the brain and body by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that blocks brain signaling or neurotransmissions. When someone uses gabapentin, they may experience sedation, drowsiness, sleepiness, and a sense of relaxation.
Some other common gabapentin side effects include:
Children and older adults taking gabapentin are more likely to experience adverse side effects. Physical dependence is also a possible side effect of taking gabapentin, even if it’s taken as directed.
Physical dependence can lead to compulsive drug-taking behavior, such as taking higher doses to experience relief. This not only increases the risk of an overdose but also makes it more difficult to reduce or stop taking gabapentin in the future due to withdrawal symptoms.
If you’re misusing your medication or are showing any signs of gabapentin withdrawal, speak to your doctor about alternative treatment methods. Our Banyan rehab in Gilman, Illinois, also offers medically monitored detox for prescription drugs that includes 24-hour medical assistance.
In addition to the other side effects of gabapentin, weight gain is a concern for many patients. Gabapentin can cause weight gain, but this side effect is usually rare.
People may gain weight while taking gabapentin because the drug increases their appetite and causes water retention, mainly in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Patients taking medications like Neurontin and Gralise may gain a few pounds after about six weeks into treatment.
Duration of use also affects whether you gain weight on gabapentin. One study measuring the correlation of gabapentin and weight gain in 44 patients found that 10 patients gained more than 10% of their baseline weight, and 15 patients gained 5% to 10% of their baseline weight.1
The study also found that this increase in weight occurred in the second or third month of treatment and tended to stabilize after about 6 to 9 months.1 So, it’s safe to say that it is possible to maintain your weight while taking gabapentin. It might just take some time.
Additionally, if you want to avoid gaining weight while taking gabapentin, make sure to drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and try to eat a clean diet. Weight loss after gabapentin is also possible, but it may require you to adopt some healthier habits.
Speak to your doctor about healthy things you do to prevent serious weight gain while on gabapentin. If you experience any other adverse side effects, such as difficulty controlling how much of the medication you take, speak to your healthcare provider right away.
Not only does gabapentin cause weight gain in some users, but physical dependence and overdose are additional risks to be mindful of. Overdose can occur either intentionally by someone who wants to increase the impact of the drug’s effects, or accidentally by mixing it with other medications or drinking alcohol on the same day.
Additionally, while gabapentin is believed to have a low potential for abuse and addiction, never take more than directed by your doctor and never mix it with other medications unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
Also, avoid drinking alcohol while on gabapentin, as both are considered depressants and can produce extreme sedation and cognitive impairment. If you find yourself misusing any prescription or illicit substances, we can help.
Our Heartland drug rehab offers inpatient substance abuse treatment in Illinois for prescription and illicit drug addiction, as well as alcoholism. To learn how our specialists can help you or a loved one achieve an addiction-free life, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.