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Gabapentin Patient Tips

How it works

Gabapentin alters chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain and is used to help treat seizures and nerve pain. Gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant) is also effective for restless leg syndrome.


  • Effectively reduces seizure frequency. Also used in the treatment of nerve pain (such as in postherpetic neuralgia) and restless leg syndrome (gabapentin enacarbil [Horizant]).
  • May be of benefit in fibromyalgia, persistent hiccups, migraine prevention and hot flashes (all off-label, meaning not an FDA-approved use, but may still have a place in therapy).
  • Some forms of gabapentin are available in cost-saving generic formulations.


If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness; avoid driving or operating machinery until the full extent of effects is known. Avoid alcohol.
  • Similar to other anticonvulsant medicines, gabapentin may increase the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Risk of seizures or withdrawal reactions (symptoms of withdrawal may include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, pain, and sweating) upon abrupt discontinuation; discontinue slowly following a doctor's advice.
  • Dose adjustments may be needed if you have reduced kidney function.
  • Gabapentin is available in generic versions and by different brand names; only take the specific medication your doctor has prescribed.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Gabapentin can be used to treat certain types of seizures and can relieve nerve pain but can cause dizziness and drowsiness in some people. Gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant) is approved for restless leg syndrome.


  • Neurontin brand of gabapentin can be taken with or without food. If you break a 600 mg or 800 mg Neurontin tablet in half, be sure to take the other half at your next dose.
  • Gralise brand of gabapentin cannot be substituted for other gabapentin products due to differing administration requirements (once daily versus three times daily for other products). Gralise should be taken with food at the evening meal. Gralise tablets should be swallowed whole; do not cut, crush, or chew.
  • Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil) tablets should be swallowed whole and taken with food. For restless leg syndrome, take at roughly 5 PM in the evening. Do not cut, crush, or chew the tablet. Do not interchange Horizant with other gabapentin products.
  • Use a manufacturer-provided or pharmacist-provided measuring cup calibrated for liquid formulations; do not use a kitchen measuring device or teaspoon.
  • For dosage schedules of three times daily do not allow more than 12 hours between doses.
  • Monitor for mood changes and report any evidence of new or worsening mood or depression to the prescribing doctor.

Response and Effectiveness

  • For gabapentin immediate-release products, peak concentrations occur in 2 to 3 hours. Clinical effects for nerve pain may take up to 2 weeks, although sleep problems due to nerve pain may improve within a week.
  • Gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant) appears effective in treating restless leg syndrome after only a few days of treatment.


Gabapentin [package insert]. Revised 10/2015. Greenstone LLC. Accessed 02/2016. Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil) [package insert]. Revised 07/2015. XenoPort Inc. Accessed 02/2016

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use gabapentin only for the indication prescribed.

  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2017 Revision Date: 2016-02-26 00:00:00