Gabapentin is a medication used to treat seizures and pain caused by shingles. Common brand names for gabapentin include Gralise, Horizant, and Neurontin. It belongs to the GABA analog drug class, meaning it stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter GABA to reduce neuronal excitability in the brain that may contribute to seizures and pain. Today, to better understand how we can safely use this medication, we’re looking at how long gabapentin stays in your system and the onset and duration of its side effects.
Normally, it takes one to two weeks for gabapentin to reach its full effects, but this also depends on the condition it’s being taken to treat. The effective dose of gabapentin is also different for everyone, varying from 300 mg per day to 3,000 mg per day.
As with many medications, gabapentin doses usually start off low and are gradually increased depending on the person’s condition. For instance, when used to treat nerve pain, a gabapentin dose may begin at 300 mg and, over the course of several days, be increased by 300 mg until it reaches 600 mg three times per day.
However, once someone has been taking gabapentin for a few weeks, its side effects may take 2 to 3 hours to kick in regularly. It may take longer to kick in simply because doses are started off low and gradually built up to avoid intoxication or any adverse reactions.
If you start taking gabapentin and don’t experience immediate relief from symptoms, do not take more doses than directed by your doctor. Speak to them if you have any concerns, but you might simply have to wait for your body to get used to the medication.
So how long does gabapentin stay in your system after you take it? There are various factors that can affect the duration of any drug in the body, including the dose taken and the drug’s half-life.
A drug’s half-life is the length of time it takes for half of it to be eliminated from the body. It can take several half-lives for a drug to be metabolized and released from your system.
The half-life of gabapentin ranges from 5 to 7 hours and can be as long as 52 hours in people with kidney problems and even longer for those on dialysis. It usually takes five half-lives for a drug to completely leave the system, and based on this, gabapentin can stay in your system for about 35 hours (if kidney disease is not present.
Some people wonder if gabapentin will show up on a drug test and for how long. Drug screens do not usually test for gabapentin, but it can be detected if instructions are made to look for the drug.
Because gabapentin is a legal drug and not federally controlled, doctors don’t usually routinely test for it in standard drug screenings. However, specific gabapentin drug tests can be ordered. How long gabapentin is detectable in urine, and other aspects of the body, may vary.
Gabapentin detection times for drug tests include:
A person’s age can also affect how long gabapentin is in your system, with older people experiencing a longer elimination time than younger people. Differences in kidney function can also significantly prolong the length of time it takes for gabapentin to leave the system, as well as the person’s weight.
On the other hand, it’s believed that staying hydrated could speed up the elimination of gabapentin from the body since the drug is primarily metabolized in the kidneys and released through the urine.
Due to its effect on the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, gabapentin has some potential for abuse. Long-term use of this drug can also lead to a developed tolerance, which often leads patients to take higher doses than they’re prescribed to experience the same relief from their ailments.
In the end, this could lead to a physical dependence that can be difficult to recover from without prescription drug addiction treatment. While gabapentin isn’t addictive in the same way cocaine or meth is, it’s often used in conjunction with alcohol and other drugs to experience a sedative high, increasing the risk of overdose and contributing to addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, our drug rehab in Illinois offers various levels of care, including medically monitored detox and therapy, to help patients recover from the physical and psychological impact of addiction. No matter how severe your drug use disorder is, our Heartland drug rehab can help.