Every drug has a specific amount of time it remains in the body, including gabapentin. Understanding how long it will take to leave your system and the associated side effects can make the transition away from gabapentin much easier.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription anticonvulsant drug (most commonly known by the brand name Neurontin® in the U.S.) that falls into the category of a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) analogue drug. These types of drugs are known as gabapentanoids.
Gabapentin works by decreasing the activity of abnormally excited neurons in the brain.
It’s used to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as seizures (including those caused by epilepsy), peripheral neuropathy, restless leg syndrome (RLS), nerve pain from shingles, chronic pain, trigeminal neuralgia, alcohol and drug withdrawal, symptoms of menopausal hot flashes, and other pain conditions.
Gabapentin is sold under the brand names Neurontin®, Horizant® and Gralise® and is also available in generic forms.
What is the Half-Life of Gabapentin?
The term “half-life” refers to how long it will take half the amount of drug in the body to exit or be eliminated. The half-life of gabapentin is around 6.5 hours. While 6.5 hours is the average, it can be as long as 52 hours in some individuals with kidney disease or metabolic issues.
Normally, the complete elimination time for gabapentin is about 32 to 48 hours (it takes around five half-life cycles to leave the body completely).
How Long Will Gabapentin Stay in Blood, Urine, Saliva or Hair?
Gabapentin is legal and isn’t a controlled substance, so it’s not routinely tested for during drug screenings. However, it may be if specifically requested to monitor for misuse. Detection times will vary depending on the type of test being performed.
The amount of time gabapentin stays in the body can vary depending on kidney function (people with kidney disease may take longer to clear gabapentin), duration of use, quantity used, and metabolic factors.
How is Gabapentin Detected in Drug Tests?
Drug tests can be performed using many methods. These can include testing blood, urine, saliva, and hair. However, not all tests can detect drugs, so options are essential.
1. Blood Tests
Blood tests for gabapentin consist of licensed medical professionals drawing blood at a testing facility. On blood tests, gabapentin will continue to show up between 5 and 7 hours after the last dose. Depending on an individual’s drug clearance rate, this length of time may be longer or shorter.
2. Urine Tests
Urinalysis is the most convenient, non-invasive way to test for many substances, including gabapentin. A sample is collected (typically at a testing center) and analyzed. It’s the most common way to test for the presence of gabapentin, and it’s detectable in urine for about three days.
In individuals with kidney disease, gabapentin may be detectable in urine longer, as decreased kidney function makes it more difficult for the renal system to filter and excrete drugs and other substances.
3. Saliva Tests
Saliva tests are not an effective means of looking for the presence of gabapentin, as it is undetectable in the saliva.
4. Hair Tests
Hair tests are conducted by collecting a few hairs from an individual, making sure to include the hair’s root. However, hair follicle tests for gabapentin are uncommon. While gabapentin can be detected in hair samples for up to 90 days, the use of this test is cost prohibitive and not particularly useful for routine drug screening.
Are you or someone you care about concerned about gabapentin use? Zinnia Health’s substance use professionals can help! Email us today or call (855) 430-9439 to learn more about gabapentin use and addiction.
How Long Will You Test Positive For Gabapentin Use?
Healthy individuals with no underlying conditions can expect gabapentin to leave their bodies within a few days.
While it will be detectable with urinalysis for three or four days, its effects will have already dissipated within a day or so.
Conversely, some people with other factors that can keep gabapentin in their system for longer may test positive for gabapentin for weeks or even months after their last dose.
What Can Affect How Long Gabapentin Stays in Your Body?
A few factors can affect the length of time gabapentin remains in the body.
Your kidney function is perhaps the most important factor, as the kidneys are the filtering organs responsible for collecting and excreting gabapentin.
Other factors that determine how long gabapentin will stay in your system include:
- Age (older people tend to take longer to clear drugs)
- Body mass
- Other drugs being used at the same time (recreational or prescription)
- Route of administration (swallowed in tablet or liquid form, snorted, injected)
- Drug form (tablet, liquid, powder, injectable)
Is Gabapentin Addictive?
The short answer is yes; gabapentin can be habit-forming.
While gabapentin is not a controlled substance like opioids, it offers effective pain relief and can be used to address withdrawal symptoms in treatment centers during drug or alcohol detox.
A lack of supervision by a physician can lead to gabapentin abuse if not carefully monitored.
Numerous case studies have shown that gabapentin is more commonly abused than originally suspected. Chemical dependencies are not unusual when a drug alters brain chemistry.
In this instance, gabapentin mimics GABA, creating the feelings of relaxation and euphoria that come with natural GABA release. With regular use of gabapentin, the body and brain can become accustomed to the levels of chemicals being produced or suppressed, leading to a physical dependence on the drug.
Gabapentin withdrawal can be dangerous if not managed properly. Individuals that suddenly quit gabapentin can experience side effects that range from mild symptoms such as headaches to more severe or life-threatening issues such as seizures.
It’s important to note that gabapentin can also cause psychological dependence, as it produces a pleasant, euphoric high.
If you’d like to learn more about gabapentin, Zinnia Health’s substance use professionals are fully informed and can help. Get in touch by email or call (855) 430-9439 to learn more about gabapentin use and addiction.
How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Gabapentin to Wear Off?
Gabapentin, when used as a prescription medication, is usually taken three times daily. This may vary from individual to individual, but with this dosing frequency, it is taken every eight hours.
There have been reports of withdrawal symptoms starting as soon as twelve hours after the last dose, but it may take as long as a week before the effects of gabapentin are no longer felt.
Regardless of why gabapentin is being taken (under a doctor’s orders or recreationally), it’s vital to taper off the medication under a healthcare professional’s guidance.
This will help avoid any dangerous side effects of withdrawal, such as seizures or neurological problems, and will also help ensure that relapse is less likely.
Most people quitting gabapentin can do so on an outpatient basis, but in some instances, an individual may prefer the support of an inpatient rehab program.
If you have questions or need help regarding gabapentin use, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Zinnia Health: (855) 430-9439. Our compassionate, experienced professionals can help you safely navigate the steps to quitting.