Gabapentin and Alcohol Withdrawal: How to Use It

gabapentin and alcohol

In this article, you’re going to learn about gabapentin and alcohol withdrawal. Over the past few years, a growing number of people have successfully used gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication that is available only by prescription.

Gabapentin is very similar in structure to GABA, which is a brain chemical associated with feelings of calm and mental stability. Many of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are caused by low levels of GABA.

Gabapentin is a generic drug, and the most common brand name is called Neurontin. An extended-release version of gabapentin is prescribed under the brand Horizant. Gabapentin has been traditionally prescribed to treat:

  • Epilepsy
  • Nerve pain
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Seizures

Gabapentin has also recently been used to treat anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and a range of chemical addictions including cocaine, opiates, and alcohol.

gabapentin and alcohol

Gabapentin And Alcohol: Overview of Gabapentin

Gabapentin has shown to be effective at alleviating or preventing the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Sweating

Gabapentin works by increasing the production of GABA in the brain, essentially aiding brain cells that are too damaged to perform this crucial function.

It does this by modulating the action of two enzymes – one involved in the production of GABA, and the other involved in the production of glutamate, which is a stress chemical.

To understand the science behind using gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal, we will briefly review the causes of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol is a depressant that mimics GABA, and alcohol addiction causes the brain to decrease its long-term GABA production because it has learned to rely on alcohol for the same effect.

Because alcohol suppresses glutamate (the aforementioned stress chemical and “excitatory” neurotransmitter), the alcoholic brain ramps up its production of glutamate. In the absence of alcohol to calm down the brain, the alcoholic feels hyperactive, hypersensitive, and panicked.

gabapentin and alcohol

When an alcoholic stops drinking suddenly, two important things happen:

  • Glutamate rebounds to high levels within 3-8 hours
  • GABA does not return to normal levels (this can take weeks)

Many of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are caused by a lack of GABA and an excess of glutamate.

While some people have used gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal and then tapered off, others have taken long-term gabapentin for alcohol cravings.

Continuing to use gabapentin after alcohol detox has helped many alcoholics reduce the chance of relapse. The trade-off is that long-term use of gabapentin can cause dependence.

Gabapentin And Alcohol: Gabapentin Dosage Information

The following dosage information may be useful if you are considering taking gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal:

  • Since gabapentin is a generic drug, dosage amount may vary depending on the brand and different brand name tablets are not interchangeable.
  • 600-1800 mg per day of gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal is typically effective to mitigate symptoms.
  • Studies of gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal have used 1200 mg tapering to 800 mg or 900 mg tapering to 600 mg. (source)
  • Larger doses of gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal (over 900 mg) are typically divided throughout the day.
  • To avoid dependence, only take gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal as long as it is needed to manage symptoms – typically less than a week.
  • There is no standard dosage of gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal; only a doctor can determine this depending on your situation.
  • Only take gabapentin under the supervision of a doctor.

Before taking gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal, make sure to review the following:

Research Studies

gabapentin and alcohol withdrawal

While gabapentin is not yet an FDA-approved treatment for alcoholism, a number of studies support the use of gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal and cravings:

  • In a 12-day study of alcoholics detoxifying with either gabapentin or lorazepam (a benzodiazepine prescribed with the brand name Ativan), the gabapentin group was less likely to drink – and had less craving, anxiety, and sedation (source)
  • In a 12-week study of 150 alcoholics receiving either gabapentin or a placebo, the gabapentin group had significantly less insomnia, dysphoria, and alcohol craving (source)
  • Gabapentin reduced alcohol intake for alcoholic rats but not for non-alcoholic rats, demonstrating its effectiveness for alcohol cravings by acting as a substitute source of GABA (source)
  • Gabapentin is comparable to clonazepam in its effectiveness for treating insomnia in depressed patients (source)

Alternatives To Gabapentin

gabapentin and alcohol

Not everyone can obtain gabapentin, since it must be prescribed by a doctor. It can sometimes be difficult to find a doctor who is open to prescribing gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal.

Besides benzodiazepines, which are the most commonly prescribed drugs for alcohol detox, there are a few other alternatives to gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal.

Baclofen

Baclofen is another prescription drug that is structurally similar to GABA. Like gabapentin, baclofen can be used to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Long-term, high-dose baclofen has also been used by a growing number of people to achieve a state of indifference toward alcohol. To learn more, check out my article on the interesting baclofen alcohol relationship.

Phenibut

Phenibut is a legal supplement that is remarkably similar in structure to both baclofen and gabapentin (and GABA). It is known to:

  • Calm the nervous system
  • Aid in sleep
  • Boost mood
  • Alleviate social anxiety

If you cannot obtain either gabapentin or baclofen, you can use phenibut to ease mild to moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal at home.

For a full description of how this might be done including dosage information, see my article on using phenibut for alcohol withdrawal.

Calm Support

Before I explain how Calm Support works, let me make one thing clear…

Nearly a year after I quit drinking, I finally understood that the majority of my post-acute withdrawal symptoms were caused by nutrient deficiencies caused by prolonged alcohol exposure.

I finally ended my post-acute withdrawal symptoms (including alcohol cravings) by doing a lot of research and spending a lot of money on herbs, vitamins, and minerals.

Calm Support is an ingenious collection of high quality nutrients and herbs that are very effective for alcohol withdrawal. These ingredients cost a lot of money when purchased separately. Many of my clients have been able to quit drinking using Calm Support along with external support and basic lifestyle improvements.

Gabapentin And Alcohol: Conclusion

Gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal is a little-known but highly effective treatment that our medical establishment has all but hidden from patients.

While not everyone responds well to gabapentin, I believe that greater awareness of the use of gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal can improve recovery odds for many people.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for alcohol detox and recovery.

When I quit drinking, I had no idea what my alternatives for detox and recovery were. A doctor simply prescribed a course of benzodiazepines. I was not enlightened about nutrient repair, other pharmacological options, or holistic strategies for improving my quality of life.

My goal in writing articles such as this one is to empower you to have a much better grasp on your situation, and your options, than I did when I quit drinking.

If you have any questions about gabapentin and alcohol withdrawal, please post them in the comment box below.

Hierarchy of Alcohol Recovery

Please review this post!

WANT TO DOMINATE ALCOHOL AND LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE?

CHRIS SCOTT

Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.

DR. REBECA ERIKSEN

Dr. Rebeca Eriksen is the Nutritional Consultant for Fit Recovery. She has a PhD in Nutritional Genetics from Imperial College London, and over ten years of clinical experience designing custom nutritional repair regimens for patients recovering from alcohol addiction. In addition to her work at the exclusive Executive Health clinic in Marbella, Spain, she helps to keep Fit Recovery up to date with emerging research.

COMMENT DISCLAIMER

The information we provide while responding to comments is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. The responses to comments on fitrecovery.com are designed to support, not replace, medical or psychiatric treatment. Please seek professional care if you believe you may have a condition.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
C. Seaton
C. Seaton
3 years ago

Hi Chris! I have devoured every article you have written on your website so that I can truly prepare in the best way possible to reduce withdrawal symptoms in various ways, as well as maximize my chances for a lifetime of success. Eager to read your book tonight as well!! I was Rxd Gabapentin last week as well as a benzo by my detox physician, and will definately be sure to report my results here when I begin tomorrow. He has been Rxing gabapentin for 25 years, with often very positive results, so we shall see. I am going to… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
3 years ago

Thank you.

arlene
arlene
3 years ago

I simply cannot believe how well this drug worked for me , it took away 90 percent of the most severest withdrawal symptoms. I had a whole bottle of the stuff left over from a car wreck I was in, and was just googling around for information for someone else and I decided to do the Gabapentin, and this page popped up , I almost dropped dead knowing I had something already in the house, 2 days and out, we who have been through withdrawals know it’s like passing into the gates of hell. I took up to 1800 each… Read more »

Chris Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  arlene

Amazing Arlene, thanks for sharing your experience! Definitely work with your doctor because like any drug that activates GABA receptors, gabapentin can cause dependence. Repairing your body and brain can help you get through PAWS.

damian .lopez
damian .lopez
3 years ago

Hello Chris.Thank you for your life saving information.You truly deserve great success and great fortune. You are a life saver by posting all your research and experience in dealing the an alcohol addiction. I wish you great success and great health. God bless you.

Chris Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  damian .lopez

Thank you Damian! I’m glad you’ve found useful information here. Best of luck to you.

John
John
3 years ago

I have severe alcoholism but they just keep pumping full of Ativan. Will this help with seizures? I’ve had 4 over the last 2 days

Chris Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  John

Hi John – yes, doctors do use Ativan to help mitigate the risk of seizures. Generally, patients are given a dosage that tapers down over a few days or more, depending on the severity of withdrawal. Good luck to you!

total-alcohol-recovery
Alcohol-Recovery-Coaching
elevation-recovery-podcast
12
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x