Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a popular prescription medication that will remain in the body for around 36 hours. Gabapentin has an approximate half-life of 5-7 hours, meaning that it will take this amount of time for the body to expel one-half of a dose of the drug.
What Is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription medication commonly used to treat neuropathic pain related to shingles and seizures.
Gabapentin is sometimes also used off-label for other purposes, such as the following:
- Pain unrelated to nerve problems
- Anxiety that is related to certain types of psychiatric disorders
- Restless leg syndrome
- Withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol or other substances
How Gabapentin Works
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) does not classify gabapentin as a controlled substance, but it does require a prescription from a physician to obtain it legally. It is thought to mimic the action of the neurochemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which reduces activity in the CNS (central nervous system).
It is not believed that gabapentin affects GABA receptors directly and, instead, decreases the activity of other neurons through a different but unknown mechanism. This fact would explain why gabapentin can treat issues like pain, anxiety, and seizures, which are all the result of overactivity in the body and brain.
Gabapentin is not generally considered to have the same addictive potential as many other prescription pain medications on its own. Moreover, it does not cause euphoria, and it is not as powerful as opioids. However, doctors will often prescribe gabapentin in conjunction with other drugs, and these combinations can lead to more effective treatment of a specific condition. Unfortunately, this approach may, in some instances, result in some level of drug dependence.
How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in the Body?
Gabapentin is most often ingested orally in tablet form, and as noted, will stay in the body for about 36 hours. Gabapentin is one of the few substances not metabolized by the liver; instead, it is primarily broken down by the kidneys. Because of this rare process, gabapentin does not remain in the body for a prolonged period.
Gabapentin can be prescribed in both immediate- and extended-release forms. The latter will continue to release the drug gradually into the system over time. Therefore, the detection window for the drug will be prolonged, as well.
Drug tests do not usually screen for gabapentin because it is not classified as a controlled substance and has a relatively low potential for abuse. However, it can be identified if instructions are put forth to check for the drug’s presence specifically.
Gabapentin’s range of detectability is about 5-7 hours for most blood tests. It can not be detected in saliva, and it is improbable that a hair test would be used to screen for gabapentin.
However, a urine test can detect gabapentin for an average of 72 hours, and the broader range of detection would be between 1-3 days in most instances. A urinalysis, although uncommon in and of itself, is probably the method that is most likely to be used to test for gabapentin.
Factors That Affect Elimination Time
Due to how gabapentin is metabolized in the body, the dosage may not influence the duration in which the drug remains in the system—at least to the extent of most other substances. Still, using very high amounts of gabapentin could lead to a longer elimination time for the drug.
Other factors can affect the clearance of gabapentin from the system, including the following:
- Age, as older individuals experience longer elimination times
- Differences in kidney functionality
- Weight and body mass index, as individuals who weigh more will eliminate it more rapidly
- Hydration, because the medication is primarily broken down in the kidneys and expelled through the urine
Getting Help for Drug Abuse
Although gabapentin is thought to have a relatively low potential for abuse, it does indeed occur. Gabapentin is also commonly abused in combination with drugs such as opioids, which can intensify their effects and result in additional complications, including drug dependence, tolerance, and addiction.
Moreover, those who are misusing gabapentin or other substances are urged to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. The earlier treatment is sought, the less arduous the transition back to sobriety will be.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer comprehensive programs customized to each individual’s unique needs and goals. Our centers feature detox services as well as a variety of evidence-based therapeutic services clinically proven to be vital for the recovery process, including psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, peer group support, psychoeducation, aftercare planning, and more.
Are you motivated to take that first step to long-term sobriety, happiness, and wellness? If so, call us today and find out how we can help you get started, one day at a time!