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Why Do Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms Occur?

As the drug’s mechanism of action remains somewhat unclear, the phenomenon of gabapentin withdrawal is also not entirely understood. Still, the presence of withdrawal symptoms in users suggests the development of physical dependence in those who take the medication over time.

Certain medications and illicit drugs may lead to the development of physical dependence in people who use them for more than a few weeks. With regular use, a person’s body adapts to and essentially begins to expect a substance to be present and will rely on it to function normally. When a dependent person stops taking the drug or significantly reduces the amount of the drug they have been using on a regular basis, they will likely soon experience the onset of withdrawal.

Dependence often develops in tandem with tolerance, in which a person’s system does not respond to the drug in the same way it did before. The person must take higher and higher doses to achieve the effect they experienced when they first started using.

Physiological dependence is often mistakably confused with addiction. But the two are not the same thing. For instance, a person using a medication to treat a chronic condition may develop some physical dependence on the drug. But if they continue to safely use the drug according to its prescribed purposes and under the supervision of their doctor and do not display other signs of compulsive misuse, they would not be considered to be addicted to it. Addiction involves a compulsion to seek out the drug and use it, with such drug use negatively interfering with other areas of the person’s life.

Significant dependence is more likely to develop in people who intentionally misuse or use gabapentin recreationally. However, maladaptive patterns of gabapentin abuse may also develop in people who initially were prescribed the drug but began to misuse it. If you or someone you care about is abusing the drug, speak with your doctor or seek out the help of rehabilitation program or addiction professional.

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