Gabapentin Withdrawal: One Year Later

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In my first article, I went into detail about my initial withdrawal experience with Gabapentin. If you remember, I was absolutely clueless that Gabapentin could cause physical dependency so quickly and lead to devastating withdrawal symptoms. Since stopping Gabapentin, I have had to, unfortunately, deal with withdrawal symptoms that have impacted my daily life in some way almost every day. Even after a failed cold turkey of 600mgs in December 2021, a successful reinstatement of 200mgs in January 2022, and a four-month taper, I was utterly unprepared for this experience. And even though I was only on the medication for a little over six months, I am still traveling down the long road of psychiatric drug withdrawal.

Over the past year, I have learned a lot and would like to share more about this experience with the hope of helping others. As I am writing this, there are currently over 15 thousand members in the Gabapentin/Lyrica support group that I am a member of. Many have experienced life-changing withdrawal symptoms while tapering off of Gabapentinoids, and have suffered for years. I am simply one member with my own unique story. And so, in this article, I would like to share with you what has happened over the past year since I stopped taking Gabapentin.

Perhaps I would not be in this position if I had tapered to 0.1 mgs of Gabapentin. It’s impossible to know for sure, but at the time, I believed I could get off this medication quickly because I had only been on it for a few months. While I did taper some, I got to the point where I felt like putting the medication in my body for even more time would do more harm than good, so I stopped the drug on the morning of May 25, 2022. Here is what has happened since that day.

I have tried to keep track of all the symptoms I have experienced over the past year. For those of us who have experienced psychiatric withdrawal, finding language to describe some of our symptoms can almost be impossible. I cannot tell you how often I have said throughout this past year, “I’m not sure how to describe what I am experiencing.” This feeling, of course, brings more suffering because we often feel misunderstood and isolated. I have felt these emotions, and they can be overwhelming at times. While I cannot go into exhaustive detail about every symptom I have dealt with, I would like to give some detail at least so that other travelers on this challenging journey might be able to relate.

Because there is such little knowledge available regarding Gabapentinoid withdrawal, no one knows how long the acute withdrawal phase lasts. According to the moderators of the Facebook support group I am in, in their opinion, acute withdrawal can last anywhere between two weeks and six months. I believe that my acute phase was around one month. During this period, I primarily experienced the following: internal vibrations in my head and throughout my back, burning skin on my hip, fatigue, twitching throughout my legs, and visual distortions. I consider myself fortunate to recognize that the acute phase did not last as long as it could have. Nevertheless, withdrawal’s windows and waves phase has not exactly been a walk in the park.

Once the first month had passed, I began to experience some bothersome and debilitating withdrawal symptoms that occurred in unpredictable waves. In months 2-3 post discontinuation, I experienced minor akathisia spells when trying to sleep. There were times when I felt like my body was internally jerking. I was not moving at all, but it felt like the inside of my body would randomly jolt (truthfully, I don’t know how else to describe this sensation). Waves of skin burning, headaches, and fatigue also occurred, and I could never predict when they would randomly arise.

During months 4-6 after stopping Gabapentin, I primarily experienced nerve pain throughout most of my body, body temperature dysregulation, formication and tingling in my arms, pounding headaches that occurred whenever I was walking, and of course, the dreaded internal vibrations that had been with me since the first day I started tapering off of the drug. Again, many of these symptoms would come for a week or two and then be replaced by another painful problem. This was less than ideal.

Months 7-9 saw an increase in my internal tremors. For the most part, I had primarily experienced these tremors in my back and head. However, now they had also spread to my legs, and it felt like an internal earthquake was occurring in my body 24/7. Shortly after this happened, right around Christmas in 2022, I experienced my first window of relief. Of course, it only lasted a few days, but I finally felt as I entered 2023 that my body was healing. Throughout the rest of this period, after my short experience of feeling good, I dealt with a solid week of feeling dizzy and disoriented whenever I walked, which was then replaced by a week of internal body jerking whenever I was standing up, and then a week of very intense nerve pain through my entire body. Also, my vision problems were back, and strangely, I started dealing with light sensitivity. Every time I look up at the blue sky or am outside on a sunny day, I deal with seeing visual snow. It seems so strange that this is now just showing up.

In months 10-12, I have had an increase in moments of feeling better. For the most part, my internal tremors have decreased in intensity. I actually traveled outside of the state by plane for a few days for my bachelor party, which was a significant accomplishment for me. The stress of air travel and being away from home did lead to a few days of intensified withdrawal symptoms, but I am starting to have better and better days. In month 11, I had about a week of random head pressure. It was such a weird feeling and made zero sense. My energy is definitely getting better now, and I go on walks often. The internal tremors have intensified as I get close to being off for a year, so that has not been fun.

As I enter year 2 of withdrawal, I look forward to my brain and body hopefully experiencing even more healing. For most people in the support group, complete recovery seems to take closer to two years in total. I am hopeful that this is my story as well. While I would say that I spend most of my time now looking forward to the future, I still think it’s important to reflect on the actual reality of this experience.

For example, in 2022, I could not work full-time due to withdrawal. I lost thousands of dollars of income and a teaching job that I would have considered my dream job. I was disbelieved by many doctors, hospital workers, psychiatrists, and friends during this experience. I was told that my issues had to be related to post-COVID, and there was no way that this was psychiatric drug withdrawal.

I endured loss after loss after loss. But here I stand, and I am grateful to be alive.

I now advocate for those enduring the long hard road of psychiatric drug withdrawal and try to share my experience as much as possible. I have joined another online support group, the Inner Compass Exchange, which discusses and rethinks psychiatric diagnoses and drugs, and I have also connected with many amazing people. I genuinely want to do my part to help others on their pathway to recovery. So that is why I continue to share.

Since my first article was published, many people have sought me out on social media to either thank me for sharing or seek advice on how to come off of Gabapentin or Lyrica safely. It’s funny because, trust me, I am no expert and no one special. What happened to me is that I unexpectedly went through the wringer of psychiatric drug withdrawal and felt like I could not keep this experience to myself. Everything online that you read mostly says that Gabapentin withdrawal only lasts for a few weeks. But thousands upon thousands of people would beg to differ.

Your experience will be different from mine, and I hope and pray it is easier. This is the hardest thing I have ever endured, and even now, I struggle to find words to describe what has happened to me. But I will continue to move forward and speak up about the need for informed consent before taking psychiatric medication. As I mentioned, I had no clue this could happen and was completely taken aback. So hopefully, in reading this second part of my story, you will not be unprepared like me but will rather be equipped with more knowledge and information about what at least could happen to you when coming off of a Gabapentinoid.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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Matt Manry
Matt Manry is a former pastor and teacher. He currently works for a small SEO company in Atlanta, GA as he tries to recover from an iatrogenic injury caused by Gabapentin. He loves Atlanta sports, his wonderful girlfriend, and books, and hopes to return to working with his outstanding students once he has recovered.

29 COMMENTS

    • Dear Livingpast27,

      In so far as we may still lack any universally agreed definition of what the psyche or the mind or the soul might be, and given that we seem a long way from understanding how “psychoactive” drugs/substances interact with different brains, never mind(!) speculating about how our very brains can themselves manufacture vast ranges of seemingly physical signs as well as symptoms (I refer anyone interested to the works of John E. Sarno and of Howard Schubiner), I reckon you have a point, dear Livingpast27.

      But perhaps quantum physics is actually way less incomprehensible than all that?

      I am no Christian (I believe that nothing and everything and at least infinitely more is “God,” and, at least ultimately, at least infinitely more than infinitely good…) and can’t say that Jesus of Nazareth even lived let alone said any of the stuff ascribed to him but I do like to view him, 2,000 years or so before Ambrose Bierce, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman, Paul Dirac et al as a father of quantum physics.

      Some 300 or so years before him, mind you, perhaps Zhuangzi was a mother or midwife of quantum mechanics?:

      “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”

      Reportedly, anyway, Jesus told mere mortal men (“What are men? “Mortal gods. What are gods? Immortal men.” – Heraclitus) “You are the light of the world!”

      Perhaps he meant, “the light of Consciousness” and was referring to that to which Niels Bohr read about when he went “into the Upanishads to ask questions” – “not that which the eyes sees, but that by which the eye sees,” etc?

      Reportedly, anyway, Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

      Perhaps he was beating John Wheeler to the Many Worlds Interpretation?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation

      Reportedly, Jesus traveled around preaching repentance/metanoia/transformation of consciousness…and “the Kingdom of Heaven/”God/the Father.”

      If he used heaven/the heavens – the skies – to represent the realm of formless consciousness to folks who had no words for such a notion, then perhaps he was using the finest analogy he could find to refer to that which quantum physicists insist can and does influence/determine the state of (at the very least) subatomic particles?

      When the daughter of the Canaanite woman was reportedly “healed instantly,” (as I like to believe she was), was this not a demonstration of “spooky action at a distance” – of the instantaneous response of “an entangled particle” to a transformation of consciousness of one or more other entangled particles at a distance?
      https://www.goodnews.ie/canaanite.shtml

      Reportedly, Jesus said, “All things are possible to one who believes.”

      Perhaps he was beating Einstein to the point that “imagination encircles the world,” and that the extent to which we can (truly) access other worlds/universes is limited only by the limits of our imaginations?

      https://youtu.be/_we4rXCWm-s

      Had our contemporary coercive psychiatry/state sanctioned deprivation of every human right, up to and including life itself – if by “life” one means the enjoyment of one’s own states of consciousness unsullied by forcible drugging – and our modern psychotropic drugs such as gabapentin been available to Jesus’s family/friends at the time, perhaps he, too, would have been…Mark 3:21: https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Mark%203%3A21

      All the mysteries and complexities of quantum physics may well be discoverable, soluble, and finite; those of the human mind, not. And, of course, we all know what Einstein said of human stupidity, don’t we?

      But I reckon we are all in this together and, ultimately, that there there are no good guys or bad guys…and that everything, at least, is “God.”

      Thanks to Matt and to MIA for two very wonderful essays, and for all the many agonies, those sacrifices which produced them.

      Matt, I am praying for your own intentions, and, should they include it, for complete recovery, and more, and that, though you may walk in the valley of…you may fear no lasting ill, whatsoever, but anticipate a glorious emergence to greater health, strength and joy than ever before for yourself and for all whom you encounter and assist.

      And thank you, Livingpast27, for your wonderfully thought-provoking comment.

      Tom.

      “…for we are all as God made us, and frequently much worse.” – Sancho Panza.

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      • Hello all,

        I was on gabapentin for 17 years because of 4 lower back surgeries including a fusion. I was told that this med would “calm my nerves” and aid the recovery. I was at 800mg x4 a day.
        During that time I gained 70 lbs and had several size effects including the loss of all my teeth.
        I was told that gaba is not responsible but when you lose whole crowns on the regular its alarming. This told me for sure that gaba is too dangerous for my body. What goes through my head is gaba calms nerves and my teeth are nothing but nerves and calcium. To me it’s a no- Brainer.
        I quit straight cold turkey in 2017 and I got no surprised reaction from my pain management doctor.
        If you take high doses of gaba please be aware of tooth sensitivity beyond the norm and if you lose whole crowns that is a warning bell.
        Thx for listening.
        Mike Dietz

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  1. I went cold turkey in July after Paxil since 1995. I’ve been discussing a lot of the same symptoms with my doctor and despite being very knowledgeable about Paxil withdrawals I did not realize just how many of my symptoms can be attributed to the withdrawals.

    Healthcare professionals are becoming much better about acknowledging what they don’t know about psych drugs and listening to patients about their harms. They may not be able to help but the fact more are listening is a sign organizations like MIA are having real effect on where it matters.

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  2. I had terrible withdrawal from a few months on Lyrica. This was shortly after the drug came out, so there wasn’t much information about withdrawal online. Doctors thought I was making it up, eventually cut off my prescription while I was trying to taper.

    I had a lot of weird symptoms at first, but the ones that lasted the longest was the hot flashes and waking up at night with my heart racing and not being able to get back to sleep. It took a couple years to get back to feeling normal.

    Thanks for writing about your experience, hope it helps others.

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  3. Thank you for being so open, Mat. Doctors rarely like to admit the limits of their knowledge – like lawyers, mechanics and probably even pastors! To me, it seems the biggest gap in your treatment was the need to find somebody prepared to listen to your complaints and give you credibility. My profession often fails in that regard. I am a professor of family medicine in Australia and trying to teach the new generation of doctors to actually listen to their patients complaints. Chances are, there will be clues and pointers there if you just listen.

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  4. My dad is currently on this medication and he hasn’t been his normal self. He is on 100mg and reading this testimony is rather alerting. I honestly don’t know what to do. He was given this med after his angiogram and leg stent. He is a 86yr old independent man but this medication is very questionable now. His neurologist gave him 300mg and that was the worst kind. I need help –

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  5. i’m happy I found this article I have dealt with similar symptoms after taking anywhere from 300 to some days 900 mg, at least five times a week for over a year. Since December or so of last year, I have only had maybe six pills here and there. I noticed that it causes me back pain. For multiple months now I have struggled to get an appetite. As well as dealing with your regulated super hot body temperature for a few weeks. And not feeling like myself for a long time. I did not taper at all. Trying to see if my loss of appetite would be related. Of course it makes sense at first but it’s been multiple months now.

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  6. First, and foremost thank you for sharing and I can completely relate.

    I have been on and off Gabapentin for a few years. The first few times I took it for maybe a month or two and only experienced extreme fatigue followed by hardly sleeping. Never thought much about quiet honestly.
    This past Christmas 2022 I tried to stop and found I couldn’t sleep and my body was on fire. It was if I cut my fingernails and toenails to short and there was no way to stop the burning. I thought what a drag I’ll get back on it and all of that disappeared.
    Fast forward 4 months of being on I silently started to become scared of the sensation of shaking inside. It started only in the morning. I never equated my dizziness to it but I can not stand straight up anymore without going at a 90 degree angle for a few moments before being completely straight up.
    I became more and more nervous that my nervous system was starting to tank. My heart rate will pump almost 140 and drop into the 50’s. I also take other meds so I thought why not come off a little and see what’s going on.
    Bad choice! I had night sweats, wake up every hour, I feels like and earthquake is inside my body or as if someone is continually driving past my home with deep base(bass( I’m unsure)). The sensation starts at my feet and moves toward my head.
    Most articles I come across always state that little withdrawal happens.
    It’s a lie and I wish I would’ve never gotten on this drug.
    This drug has also helped me. But I prefer a drug to help me get started with the cure but able to get off of. I’m on day 5 of tapering and even a taper is tough. My house is a wreck, no motivation, hardly a sleeping and the concert continues to party inside my body without my consent.
    I hope I didn’t hurt my body and hopefully one day I too can be fully off of this and help whoever needs it along the way.
    Again, thank you for your through honest and you simple but yet effective way of getting the experience across.

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  7. Hello Matt,

    Thank you for your essay, raising awareness about the pharmaceutical industry is crucial.

    I’d also recommend paying attention to your diet. Personally, I believe that what we consume can greatly influence our recovery and overall physical well-being.

    All the best to you.

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  8. Matt, your story sounds eerily similar to mine almost as if I wrote it. I developed visual snow when I was tapering down and off my gabapentin as well. Have you found any relief over time from yours as well as the other lingering WD symptoms? I’ve been off for about 40 days and still get the internal tremors / vibrations and shaky hands, the visual snow, changes in BP, and mood swings and trouble sleeping. I gave up on doctors they all just tell me to take an antidepressant and gabapentin is safe. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    • Hey Chris,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re dealing with withdrawal issues. As I’m sure you know, the withdrawal timeline is different for everyone. I’ve been off 16 months and things have definitely gotten better. It was around 8 months that I started to feel some relief from some of the symptoms. I still deal with internal tremors, but they are definitely not as bad now. I am hoping to make a full recovery in the next 6 months-year, hopefully.

      You might want to get your blood levels checked to see if you are deficient in some areas.

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  9. Hi Matt, thank you for sharing your story, my heart breaks for what you endured.

    Unfortunately I was prescribed GBP (300 MG X 1 – 2 Mo) & PreGBP (100 MG X 1- 1 Mo) for a total of 3 months. I’ve been off GBP 3 months (Cold Turkey). I was prescribed it to get off a small amount of Xanax. Which I probably could’ve easily tapered off, I used so little, because it’s my health. Anyway, I followed my Psychiatrist directions exactly replacing Xanax W/GBP, to my detriment.

    Anyway, I suffer from PTSD (Disabled VET). Unfortunately since quitting GBP/PreGBP the withdrawals have been HELL. Mine are specifically around intense panic attacks. I to joined a FB group to find someone who would believe and understand my experience. I am now having to take the full prescription of Xanax & SSRI to deal with withdrawal from GBP. This angers me because I’m sure I’m more dependent more than ever.

    Anyway, I have been scouring the internet to find helpful resources to navigate through this hell-hole I and others find themselves in. Also there’s a lot of advice about what helps vs doesn’t, which I’m realizing to not rely on because each individuals and their circumstances are so different.

    Any referrals or resources you could suggest is appreciated,
    Mark

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  10. Thanks for the reporting on your experience. I was on GBP too, for years actually. I’d have to look back at record to remember for exactly how long and how much. When I got off all the psych meds, I also had to: create my own taper, listen to my body and make science-blind choices, suffer through an experience (of what was mostly disturbing emotional symptoms for me with some physical stuff but not like what you describe), and just trust that the day would come when my brain would restore as much balance as I had once had as a kid. It was hard and long and no one believed or validated the experience, but I knew I was fierce and gonna make it or die trying.

    I’m glad you’ve had some bright moments where the withdrawal has finally subsided and restored health is present! Hooray!! I too feel so much better off of medications and it has definitely taken years, 3-4 really, to feel like my mental health is totally restored. I try to counter the “lost-years, money, and relationships” narrative that I have with gratitude that I’m not still stuck in that mental HELLth scenario, and at the same time honor and trust the anger about what happened. We should be angry whether we’ve lost one year or fifty!

    Anyway, what I really wanted to say was thank you for your story. It helped remind me that the withdrawal experience from these drugs is so varied. I didn’t have that hard a time with that specific one, but it makes sense to me that other people would. There’s so much variation in human biology! And those “doctors” are idiots.

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  11. Hi Matt,

    There is no day that I don’t read your inspiring and moving story to help myself to go through another day of terrible withdrawal.
    You and ppl who been through similar order give me strength and support . Thank you .
    My Gp put me on Gabapentin 300mg x3 a day back in July, for neck pain.
    After seeing neurologist in August and run some blood test , MRI and nerve conduction I which all came back normal except I have carpal tunnel syndrome and cervical spondylosis he advice you can go up to 1800mg a day and it is safe to stay 6 month on it I will be fine. So I did.
    In September I got Covid probably due to low immune system I experience before and symptoms like Anxiety pain weakness fatigue insomnia .. couldn’t eat .. Covid passed and few days after my whole body was burning ! so I went to GP and told her I want get off medication this is not for me and no need to take it for what I have. She said to tapper it every week 300mg down . So I did.
    Withdrawal it’s most horrible experience I ever have to endure
    burning inside guts chests ,muscles joints back pain neck pain arms name it. Vibrations through shivers, anxiety , poor eating. I lost 10 kg .
    I am now on 100mg twice a day.
    I have family little girl and it is so hard to have every day normal life as it’s not normal for me. Waking up in pain and trying do my best and to stay sane for my family and myself it is hard.
    Matt is there any way I can get in contact with you outside this portal , I have few questions . I would appreciate it very much. Thank you

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  12. I to have similar issues caused by Gabapentin withdrawal,it has been 4 years for myself.The lingering problems I am experiencing,is pain in legs ,ankles ,and at times a horrific burning in different parts of my body .There were times that it was all so bad that I truly wanted to die ! I had developed problems with ears , swallowing,teeth, numbness,tingling , extremely high blood pressure ,with gain ,hair loss ,pretty much name it I had it ,but never found a Dr.that would go along with Gabapentin ever causing such problems.It has been a journey for sure ,but 80% better for sure !

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  13. Wow- I am finally finishing my tapering journey after 7 years working to get off this drug and I can honestly say that when I first started my journey there was NOTHING available on the internet as a means for support or guidance and to come here and realize I am not alone in this experience is so validating. I too experienced the internal “jolts” you describe, and I referred to it as “brain zaps” or “lurching” because it almost felt like when you miss the step on a staircase but without even having to move. Doctors thought I was crazy. No one wanted to help me taper so I finally found a doctor who would just sign the prescriptions and I did it on my own using a scale at home and empty capsules to remake my own pills at the next dose I needed and I went so slowly but it allowed me to survive the tapering process. I am hopeful as we continue to spread awareness we can help prevent others from going through the same thing. Thank you for your articles!

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