How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?

How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?

In this guide, we will discuss “How long does it take Gabapentin to start working” and a few things to consider when starting Gabapentin treatment.

How long does it take Gabapentin to start working

If you wonder ‘How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?’ it depends. You could notice how your pain starts to improve within one to two weeks after starting the intake, however, it is not the same for everyone so it may take longer for some people. It usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to be absorbed and it has a half-life of eight hours (doses range from 100 to 4200 mg per day). 

How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?

In addition, it is said that peak concentrations of Gabapentin, immediate-release, usually occur within 2 to 3 hours. As mentioned, pain may subside within a week, improving sleep disturbances but it can also take up to two weeks for symptom relief to occur. Also, within a few weeks, you could experience a reduction in seizure frequency. 

As for how Gabapentin works, experts are still unsure but research has shown how gabapentin seems to bind to a specific site called the alpha2-delta site on voltage-gated calcium channels. This is how they explain the fact that Gabapentin is able to relieve nerve-pain and its anti-seizure properties.

Before taking Gabapentin 

  • Gabapentin is said to cause life-threatening breathing problems, especially in elderly patients or people with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. If you or someone experiences slow breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
  • If you are allergic to gabapentin you should not use it.
  • If you have kidney disease or if you are on dialysis you should not use it.
  • If you have depression or a mood disorder it can increase suicidal thoughts and behaviour, so stay alert on mood symptoms and changes. Report any symptoms to your doctor.
  • It is not recommended if you have a drug addiction.
  • It is not recommended if you have liver disease.
  • It is not recommended if you have heart disease.
  • If you are pregnant or suspect you should tell your doctor before starting the treatment since it is not known yet how this medicine can harm an unborn baby.
  • It is not recommended if you are breastfeeding, ask your doctor about any risk.

How should I take it?

Gabapentin should be taken exactly as your doctor prescribed it so make sure to follow the instructions provided by your physician. Do not attempt to reduce or increase your dose, unless it has been instructed by your doctor.

Your doctor may change the brand, strength or type of gabapentin so they may adjust the dosage. If you have any questions about the new type of Gabapentin ask your physician or your pharmacist. For instance, the Horizant brand should not be taken during the day and for best results, it is recommended to be taken with food at about 5:00 in the evening.

How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?

Moreover, Gralise and Horizant should always be taken with food. In contrast, Neurontin can be taken with or without food. If you break a tablet of Neurontin to take only half of it, make sure to take the other half at your next dose. 

It is recommended to swallow the capsule or tablet whole, without crushing, chewing or breaking it. In contrast, liquid medicine should be measured carefully so always use the dosing syringe provided or a medicine dose-measuring device, avoid using a kitchen spoon. 

Do not attempt to stop the medicine suddenly, even if you have started to feel better. Stopping the medicine suddenly may cause increased seizures. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering the dose. 

Usual Adult Dose for Epilepsy

Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally 2 times a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three

Maintenance dose: 300 to 600 mg orally 3 times a day

Maximum dose: 3600 mg orally daily (in 3 divided doses)

-Maximum time between doses in the 3 times a day schedule should not exceed 12 hours

*Gralise or Horizant’s safety and effectiveness in patients with epilepsy has not been studied.

Usual Adult Dose for Postherpetic Neuralgia

-Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally 2 times a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three

-Titrate up as needed for pain relief

-Maximum dose: 1800 mg per day (600 mg orally 3 times a day)

Gabapentin available under the trade name Gralise:

-Maintenance dose: Gralise should be titrated to 1800 mg orally once daily with the evening meal.

*The extended-release tablets under the name Horizant and gabapentin are not interchangeable. 

Usual Adult Dose for Restless Legs Syndrome

Horizant: 

600 mg orally once a day with food at about 5:00 pm.

How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?

Gabapentin side effects

If you show any allergic signs and/or symptoms such as hives, difficult breathing, swelling of your face, lips or tongue, get immediate medical attention.

Moreover, seek immediate help if you have a drug reaction that affects many parts of your body causing skin rash, fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, stomach pain, or yellowing of your skin or eyes.

Get in touch with your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • You feel weak or have shallow breathing
  • Your skin turns blue or your lips, fingers and toes
  • You feel confused, have extreme drowsiness or weakness
  • You experience balance problems or muscle movement
  • You experience increased seizures
  • You experience unusual or involuntary eye movements 
How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?

Some of the side effects that have been reported in children include:

  • Changes in their behaviour
  • Memory problems
  • Have troubles concentrating
  • They act restless, hostile or aggressive

Some of the common side effects include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness, problems with balance and children may experience nausea, vomiting and fever. 

Less common side effects include black stools, chest pain, chills, cough, loss of memory, pain or swelling in the arms or legs, painful or difficult urination, among others. However, this is not the complete list of side effects, so it is recommended to discuss them with your physician.

All drugs, including Gabapentin and normal cough syrups like Purple drank also have side effects.

Gabapentin interaction with other drugs

Some drugs that interact with Gabapentin may slow your breathing and can cause dangerous side effects or death. If you are taking Gabapentin, ask your doctor before you start using opioids, sleeping pills, cold or allergy medicine, muscle relaxers or medicine to treat anxiety or seizures. 

Other drugs include prescription and over-the-counter medication, vitamins, and herbal products. 

Some of the major to moderate drug interactions include but is not limited to:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Norco
  • Oxycodone
  • Percocet
  • Suboxone
  • Tramadol
  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Seroquel (quetiapine)

How long does Gabapentin stay in your system?

Here we are referring to the drug’s half-life, which means the amount of time that it takes for your body to clear the drug from your system. For most people, it is believed that the half-life of Gabapentin ranges from 5 to 7 hours. However, the half-life can be as long as 52 hours in people who have kidney problems and even longer for those on dialysis.

Some of the factors that influence how long it stays on your system include:

  • Kidney function
  • Age
  • Drug interactions

Gabapentin is a legal drug and it is not a federally-controlled substance, reason why doctors do not routinely test for gabapentin in standard drug screenings. However, if you do get asked for a drug test, Gabapentin can show up in the urine for about 2-4 days after the last dose.

Why is this blog about How long does it take Gabapentin to start working, important?

As we have discussed when answering the main question ‘How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?’, for some people experience how their pain starts to improve within one to two weeks after starting the intake, however, it is not the same for everyone so it may take longer for some people. On the other hand, other people have reported relief after a few hours. However, remember to tell your doctor about any medicine to avoid drug interactions. 

Moreover, be aware of any potential side effects, especially those who could indicate an allergic reaction which needs immediate medical attention. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How long does it take Gabapentin to start working

How does Gabapentin make you feel?

Gabapentin may make you feel relaxed, calmed and euphoric. Some people have reported that snorted Gabapentin can be similar to taking a stimulant. Moreover, Gabapentin may also enhance the effects and side effects of other drugs (i.e. opioids).

Is gabapentin considered a painkiller?

Gabapentin is considered a prescription painkiller that belongs to its own class known as Gabapentinoids. Gabapentin is also known by the brand name Neurontin and it is considered an anticonvulsant, most commonly used to treat epilepsy, restless leg syndrome, hot flashes and neuropathic pain. 

What drugs should not be taken with gabapentin?

There are some drugs that should not be taken with gabapentin such as losartan, ethacrynic acid, phenytoin, mefloquine, magnesium oxide, cimetidine, naproxen, sevelamer and morphine. Moreover, Gabapentin is contraindicated for people with myasthenia gravis or myoclonus. However, always talk to your doctor to discuss any potential drug interactions from any drugs you may be taking even vitamins and herbal remedies.

Does gabapentin feel like Xanax?

Gabapentin is not the same as Xanax, even though both are used to treat anxiety. The main difference is that gabapentin is primarily an anti-seizure drug used to prevent seizures and for treating postherpetic neuralgia. On the other hand, Xanax belongs to the drug class called benzodiazepines, and it is used primarily to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks.

Can gabapentin make you feel loopy?

Gabapentin may make you feel loopy or as if you were going crazy or insane due to some of the side effects which include drowsiness, fatigue, memory problems or memory loss, dizziness, sleepiness, loss of control of bodily movements, nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, among others. However, not everyone gets to experience all or some of the side effects. 

References 

Drugs.com: “Gabapentin”

Strum, J. (2020, Jul.) How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System? Retrieved from therecoveryvillage.com.

How long does it take Gabapentin to start working?

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.