Home Drugs Gabapentin


Gabapentin is a prescription drug that calms nerve cells in your brain. Gabapentin is used for seizures, shingles pain, chronic nerve pain, anxiety, depression and alcohol withdrawal. Dosages of gabapentin can reach up to 1,800 mg/day for adults.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a type of medication known as a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog. Prescription drugs such as Gabapentin work by dulling the response of some nerve cells in your brain, lessening the chance of seizures and adjusting how your body interprets pain. The medication is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat seizures, pain from shingles and restless leg syndrome.

Gabapentin is a generic medication but sells under other brand names.

Gabapentin Is also Known as:
  • Fanatrex
  • Gabarone
  • Gralise
  • Horizant
  • Neurontin

Gabapentin is not a controlled substance in most states, but it can produce feelings of euphoria similar to drugs such as opioids. It is a relatively powerful painkiller with the potential for abuse.

If a doctor prescribes gabapentin for you, always take it as directed. Do not give your medication to anyone else, even if they already have a prescription for gabapentin.

Gabapentin Uses

The FDA approved gabapentin to treat post-herpetic neuralgia, which is lasting pain from shingles, and some cases of severe restless leg syndrome. It also approved the drug as an adjunctive therapy for partial seizures.

Gabapentin also has many common off-label uses. They include treating alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as well as managing pain after surgery. It is also used to control chronic pain associated with nerve problems from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and diabetic neuropathy.

How to Take Gabapentin

Gabapentin is available in 100 milligram, 300 milligram and 400 milligram capsules, in 600 milligram and 800 milligram tablets and as a 250 mg/5mL oral solution.

Doses of gabapentin for shingles pain or restless leg syndrome typically begin at 300 mg and increase by 300 mg per day as needed. In either case, the maximum recommended dose is 1,800 mg per day.

For seizures, providers usually prescribe people who are at least 12 years old with a dose of 300 mg of gabapentin three times per day. The dosage can increase to up to 600 mg, taken three times a day. Children between the ages of 3 and 4 may take a maximum of 40 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Children between 5 and 11 years old may receive 25 to 35 mg per kilogram of body weight per day.

If you miss a dose of gabapentin, take your next dose as soon as you remember. If there are only a few hours to go before your next dose, skip the missed dose and proceed with the next dose as usual. Do not take a double dose to try to catch up.

What Are the Side Effects of Gabapentin?

Taking gabapentin can cause side effects. Most of these side effects are mild and will go away after a few days. Some rare side effects are serious.

Common Side Effects of Gabapentin include:
  • Anxiety
  • Back or joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Heartburn
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Strange or unusual thoughts
  • Swelling of the hands, lower legs, ankles or feet
  • Tingling sensations in your hands or feet
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Unsteadiness
  • Unwanted eye movements
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain

Gabapentin can also cause serious side effects, which require immediate medical attention to avoid further complications.

Serious Side Effects of Gabapentin include:
  • Blue-tinged lips, fingernails or skin
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Hoarseness
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Seizures
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, eyes or face

Most side effects of gabapentin are not dangerous, but some can be life-threatening. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any severe side effects or those that affect your quality of life.

Before Taking Gabapentin

It’s important to take a few precautions before you take gabapentin. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, are breastfeeding or are allergic to gabapentin or any other ingredients in your medication.

You should also tell your doctor if you have lung or kidney disease. People with these conditions need different doses of gabapentin for the medication to be effective.

Don’t drive or operate machinery until you have taken gabapentin for a few days. Drowsiness caused by the medication may make you more likely to have an accident. If you have questions about whether you’re clear to drive or work with machinery, ask your doctor.

Common Interactions with Other Drugs

Gabapentin can interact negatively with many prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Gabapentin also interacts poorly with alcohol. If you take both, you may experience dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. These effects make accidents such as falls more likely and can lead to seizures and respiratory depression.

Drugs That May Interact with Gabapentin Include:
  • Prescription and over-the-counter antacids.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs, such as alprazolam, amitriptyline and citalopram.
  • Antipsychotic medications such as clozapine, haloperidol and promazine.
  • Mefloquine, a drug used to prevent malaria.
  • High amounts of caffeine.
  • Herbal remedies and supplements that can make you feel sleepy or dizzy, such as valerian, ashwagandha and passionflower.

It’s important to discuss all health conditions with your doctor before you take gabapentin.

You should also provide your doctor with a full list of all drugs you are taking before starting gabapentin, including all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and vitamins and supplements.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.