- What is gabapentin (Neurontin), and how does it work (mechanism of action)
- Is gabapentin (Neurontin) available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for this drug?
- What are the FDA and non-FDA approved uses for gabapentin (Neurontin)?
- What are the side effects of gabapentin (Neurontin)?
- What is the dosage for gabapentin (Neurontin)? How should I take it?
- Is gabapentin (Neurontin) a narcotic? Is it addictive?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with this drug?
- Is gabapentin (Neurontin) safe to use if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about this drug?
What is gabapentin (Neurontin), and how does it work (mechanism of action)
Doctors do not know how gabapentin works (the mechanism of action). Gabapentin structurally resembles the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). (Neurotransmitters are drugs that nerves use to communicate with one another.) It is possible that this similarity is related to gabapentin's mechanism of action. In animal models used for testing the anticonvulsant and analgesic (anti-pain) activities of drugs, gabapentin prevents seizures and reduces pain-related responses.
Do I need a prescription for this drug?
Yes, you need a prescription from your doctor or other medical health care professional for gabapentin.
What are the FDA and non-FDA approved uses for gabapentin (Neurontin)?
- Gabapentin is approved for treating seizure disorders and nerve damage from herpes zoster (shingles, postherpetic neuralgia).
- There are many non FDA-approved uses for gabapentin. These include
What are the side effects of gabapentin (Neurontin)?
The most common side effects of gabapentin are:
- Fluid retention (edema)
- Difficulty speaking
- Jerky movements
- Unusual eye movements
- Double vision
- Memory loss
Other adverse effects and serious side effects associated with gabapentin include:
Antiepileptic medications have been associated with an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior. Anyone considering the use of antiepileptic drugs must balance this risk of suicide with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thoughts, or unusual changes in behavior.
What is the dosage for gabapentin (Neurontin)? How should I take it?
Gabapentin is available as:
- Capsules: 100, 300, and 400 mg.
- Tablets: 100, 300, 400, 600, and 800 mg.
- Solution: 250 mg/5 ml
Dosage for postherpetic neuralgia and seizures.
- The recommended dose for postherpetic neuralgia is 1800 mg daily in 3 divided doses (Neurontin) or 1800 mg once daily (Gralise). Gralise is not interchangeable with other gabapentin products.
- Seizures are treated with 900-1800 mg/daily in 3 divided doses (Neurontin). Withdrawal of treatment should occur slowly over a week.
Gabapentin may be taken with or without food.
Is gabapentin (Neurontin) a narcotic? Is it addictive?
Gabapentin is not an opioid narcotic, and it is not classified as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). However, this medication does share signs and symptoms associated with drug misuse, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms of opioids like:
There have been reports of patients abusing this drug.
Which drugs or supplements interact with this drug?
- Antacids reduce the concentration of gabapentin in blood. Therefore, gabapentin should be administered 2 hours or more after taking antacids.
- Morphine significantly increases blood concentrations of gabapentin and may increase central nervous system-related adverse events associated with gabapentin.
Is gabapentin (Neurontin) safe to use if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
What else should I know about this drug?
How should I keep gabapentin stored?
- Tablets and capsules should be stored between 15 C and 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
- Gabapentin solution should be refrigerated between 2 C and 8 C (36 F to 46 F).
When was gabapentin approved by the FDA?
- The FDA approved gabapentin in December 1993.
Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant, Fanatrex FusePag) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of seizure disorders, nerve damage from shingles and postherptic neuralgia. Off label uses of gabapentin include treatment for:
- Substance abuse withdrawal
- RLS (restless legs syndrome)
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Hot flashes
Common side effects include:
Adverse reactions and serious side effects include:
Gabapentin is available as capsules as 100, 300, and 400 mg; tablets as 100, 300, 400, 600, and 800 mg; and as a solution of 250 mg/5 ml. The exact dosage depends upon the condition being treated. It is not known if this drug is safe to take during pregnancy. It is secreted in breast milk, so mothers who are breastfeeding should consult their OB/GYN or other health care professional and only use this gabapentin if the benefits outweigh the risks to the fetus. Gabapentin is not a narcotic (opioid), however, it does share signs and symptoms associated with drug abuse and addiction. Patients taking this drug may experience withdrawal symptoms like goosebumps, sweating, vomiting, and nausea. Gabapentin was approved by the FDA in 1993.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Shingles Quiz: Symptoms, Vaccine & Pictures
Shingles falls within a well-known family of viruses that cause itching, burning, blisters, and pain. Take the Shingles Quiz to...
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Restless leg syndrome (RLS), an annoying, sometimes painful disorder that keeps millions of people awake at night. What are the...
Sweating (Perspiration) Quiz: Test Your IQ
What is the medical term for excessive sweating? Take the Sweating (Perspiration) Quiz to learn the benefits of sweating. Yes,...
Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz: What Causes Seizures?
Do you know the difference between seizures and epilepsy? What are the types of seizures? Take the Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz to...
Back Pain Quiz: Test Your Back Pain IQ
There are numerous causes of chronic lower back pain and only one ailment gets more complaints. What is it? Quiz your knowledge...
Fibromyalgia Quiz: What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia could be the reason for your constant, deep bodily pain. Learn more about this painful condition with the...
Pain Quiz: Test Your IQ of Pain
Is pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we...
Alcohol Quiz: Alcoholism & Health Effects
Take the Alcohol (Alcoholism) Quiz to learn how your alcohol is processed by your body and your brain....
Picture of Shingles
An acute infection caused by the herpes zoster virus, the same virus as causes chickenpox. See a picture of Shingles and learn...
Picture of Fibromyalgia
A syndrome characterized by chronic pain, stiffness, and tenderness of muscles, tendons, and joints without detectable...
Picture of Fixed Drug Eruption
A large red-violet plaque on the arm of a child. See a picture of Fixed Drug Eruption and learn more about the health topic....
Shingles Rash Pictures, Symptoms, Vaccine Facts
Is shingles contagious? Shingles (herpes zoster virus) is a painful, contagious rash caused by the Varicella zoster virus. Learn...
Rosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases
Learn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, hives, cold...
Addicted to Pills: The Health Risks of Drug Abuse
What is drug abuse? Learn about prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, including depressants, pain relievers,...
Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?
What is tinnitus? Explore tinnitus (ringing in the ears) causes, symptoms, relief remedies, treatments and prevention tips. Learn...
Prescription Drug Abuse: Know The Warning Signs
Learn about prescription drug abuse facts and statistics about the dangers and misconceptions of abusing common prescription...
Related Disease Conditions
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS)
Interstitial cystitis (IC)/painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is an inflammatory disease of the bladder that can cause ulceration and...
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points. Stress...
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on...
Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are...
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache,...
Restless Leg Syndrome (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Medications, Home Remedies)
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common cause for painful legs that typically eases with motion, and becomes worse and more...
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause...
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as...
Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and...
Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are experienced by many women, especially at night. However, not all women undergoing menopause experience hot...
Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches,...
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and...
Nightmares are dreams that cause high anxiety or terror. Nightmares may be a part of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and...
Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the underarms, palms, or soles of the feet. Treatment may involve over-the-counter...
Pain Management: Musculoskeletal Pain
Natural menopause is the permanent ending of menstruation that is not brought on by any type of medical treatment. For women...
Cancer pain results from the tumor pressing on nerves or invading bones or organs. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy,...
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an affected site is...
Pain that originates in the face is referred to as trigeminal neuralgia. This pain may be caused by: an injury, an infection...
Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition that leads to ongoing pain symptoms. Patients can be predisposed to developing...
Alternative Treatment for MS (CAM for MS)
The term alternative therapy, in general, is used to describe any medical treatment or intervention that has not been...
Diabetic Neuropathy (Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment)
Diabetic neuropathy a condition in which nerve damage has occurred as a complication of diabetes. The pain from the nerve...
Seizures Symptoms and Types
Seizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from...
Pain management and treatment can be simple or complex, according to its cause. There are two basic types of pain, nociceptive...
Head and Neck Cancer
Head and neck cancer is cancer of the oral cavity, salivary glands, paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, or lymph...
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar stenosis can be caused by degenerative arthritis (the most common cause), tumor, infection, or metabolic disorders...
A pinched nerve causes pain, numbness, or tingling in the affected area due to pressure on a nerve. Caral tunnel and sciatica are...
Hot Flashes (Causes, Symptoms & Medication Treatment in Men and Women)
Hot flashes (or flushing) is the most common symptom experienced by a woman prior to and during the early stages of menopause,...
Stiff-Person syndrome is a neurological disorder associated with features of an autoimmune disease. Signs and symptoms of...
Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a painful complication of shingles. Symptoms include severe pain, itchy skin, and possible...
Multiple Sclerosis Early Symptoms and Signs (Early, Body Areas Affected)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission....
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Shingles (Herpes Zoster) FAQs
- Alcohol FAQs
- Fibromyalgia FAQs
- Epilepsy and Seizures FAQs
- Back Pain FAQs
- Pain FAQs
- Restless Leg Syndrome RLS FAQs
- Sweating Perspiration FAQs
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Anti-seizure Meds Won't Ease Low Back Pain
- What Drugs Work Best for Diabetic Nerve Pain?
- 1 in 5 Opioid Users Also Might Be Abusing Seizure Drug: Study
- Opioid Painkillers Raise Deadly Heart Risks for Some: Study
- Acupuncture Best for Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors: Study
- Experts Lay Out Options for Menopause Symptoms
- Acupuncture No Better Than 'Sham' Version in Breast-Cancer Drug Study
- Steroid Injections for Back Pain Linked to Spinal Fracture Risk
- Drugs May Help Relieve Restless Legs Syndrome
- Epilepsy, Migraines May Have Family Ties
- Epilepsy Drug Gabapentin Calms Chronic Cough
- FDA Approves Horizant for Post-Shingles Pain
- Botox Only Modestly Effective for Migraines
- Prescription Meds Can Put on Unwanted Pounds
- Study: Low Birth Defect Risk From Newer Epilepsy Drugs
- FDA Approves New Restless Legs Syndrome Drug Horizant
- Seizure and Pain Drug May Treat Hot Flashes
- Study: No Proof of Epilepsy Drug Suicide Risk
Quick GuideEpilepsy: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
FDA Prescribing Information.
Melton, ST., PharmD. "Has Gabapentin Become a Drug of Abuse?" Updated: June 17, 2014.