Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant. It helps prevent certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy. It’s not a cure for epilepsy — the drug will only work to control your seizures as long as you keep taking it.

Gabapentin is also used in adults to relieve nerve pain or after a case of shingles.

Gabapentin is fairly safe when you use it correctly. It does come with some possible side effects, though. People who misuse this drug are also at risk of additional side effects.

Individuals with conditions like kidney disease may be at increased risk for developing Gabapentin toxicity. Always talk with your doctor before starting any new medications.

The more common side effects of gabapentin may include the following:

Gabapentin may also cause some serious side effects. These side effects are uncommon. But they may be more common in people who have psychiatric disorders. They include:

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Allergic reaction

Gabapentin may cause serious or life threatening allergic reactions called anaphylaxis. But this is very rare. These symptoms may be the first signs of a serious reaction:

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms. If you think your symptoms are life threatening, call 911.

Gabapentin doesn’t produce the same effects as medications that are often misused, like benzodiazepines and opiates. Still, misuse of gabapentin has been reported. There have been rare cases of withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms include:

These effects occurred only in people who used high doses of gabapentin for an extended period to treat illnesses for which the drug isn’t approved.

Of the people who’ve misused the drug, most had a history of substance misuse or used gabapentin to help with withdrawal symptoms from other substances.

Talk with your doctor if you have a history of drug addiction or misuse. This information can help your doctor decide whether any risk of misuse outweighs the potential benefit of using gabapentin.

Talk with your doctor about precautions you can take for side effects from gabapentin:

  • Ask your doctor for advice on diet and exercise to help maintain a moderate weight if you’re concerned about possible weight gain from gabapentin.
  • Don’t drive or operate heavy machinery until you can function normally while taking gabapentin.
  • Talk with your pharmacist about over-the-counter medications that can help relieve some of the more common digestive system side effects.

Gabapentin side effects may make you want to stop taking the drug. But don’t stop taking it without first talking with your doctor.

Stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause serious problems, like withdrawal symptoms or the return of seizures. Your doctor will help you stop taking the drug safely.

When using gabapentin, there’s the potential for negative side effects when it interacts with certain other medications, like:

  • caffeine
  • morphine
  • losartan, a medication used to treat high blood pressure
  • ethacrynic acid (Edecrin), a diuretic medication used to treat fluid retention (edema)
  • phenytoin (Dilantin), a medication used to treat certain types of seizures
  • mefloquine, a medication that may be used for the treatment or prevention of malaria
  • magnesium oxide, a supplement commonly used to treat chronic constipation

Interactions may include dizziness or lightheadedness. Some interactions may be more serious.

Animal studies have found that there may be damage to a fetus (teratogenicity). Other drug interactions may cause respiratory depression, respiratory failure, and myopathy.

What is the most common side effect of gabapentin?

The most common side effects of gabapentin use are dizziness and drowsiness.

Is gabapentin a high risk medication?

It’s becoming more common for gabapentin to be misused for its psychoactive effects. Its overdose death risk is lower than that of opioids, but it’s not risk-free.

How long can you take gabapentin for nerve pain?

The safety and efficacy of gabapentin have not been examined for treatment periods longer than 5 months.

The use of gabapentin, even when used correctly, may cause some side effects. Usually, the side effects are minor and tolerable. But, sometimes, they may be more serious.

Speak with your doctor if you notice these side effects when taking gabapentin.