If you or your loved one used gabapentin recently, you’re probably wondering how long it can be detected in your system, especially if you have a drug test coming up.
I’ve used gabapentin myself, and to find out how long a test can detect gabapentin, I talked with a friend who’s a doctor and did different kinds of drug testing. Today, I’ll explain exactly what’s gabapentin, how it’s used, and how long it’s detected.
Summary of the Key Findings
- Gabapentin is commonly used for treating epilepsy and other health issues, even mental health disorders in some cases.
- Several factors affect how long gabapentin stays in your system.
- You should know gabapentin’s half-life to know how long it stays in your system.
Table of Contents
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug approved for seizures for people aged 3 and upwards. It’s most commonly used for treating epilepsy and various other conditions such as shingles and nerve pain.
It’s known by other brand names, such as:
“Gabapentin is a prescription medication known as a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) analogue. GABA reduces the excitability of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, which play a role in seizures and the transmission of pain signals. Gabapentin mirrors the effects of GABA calming excited neurons.” – Cleveland Clinic
Gabapentin is also used as a medication for treating:
- Restless leg syndrome
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Social anxiety disorder
- Managing withdrawal symptoms in addiction treatment.
Gabapentin isn’t a narcotic, and it doesn’t lead to forming a habit, but there are still cases of gabapentin abuse and dependency. This happens because gabapentin causes feelings of euphoria and sedation. However, it can also enhance the effects of illegal drugs, so it’s attractive to people with substance use disorder. This is why gabapentin use increased by 64% from 2012 to 2016 .
Kentucky was the first state to include gabapentin on its list of controlled substances in 2017 .
A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it takes the body to clear half of a controlled substance from its system.
Gabapentin’s half-life is between five to seven hours in healthy people . However, for people with health issues, such as kidney problems, gabapentin can stay in their system for much longer — up to 45 hours .
People with other health issues may need to take gabapentin more frequently, in some cases three times a day. This means gabapentin can stay in your system longer.
How Gabapentin Works?
Gabapentin works by mimicking the effects of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that nerve cells release in the brain. These help brain cells communicate, and you can perform actions. GABA is one of the major chemical substances in the brain, which means it decreases the activity of other neurons when released.
Gabapentin increases the natural GABA and controls seizures, anxiety, and pain. People using it will feel calm, relaxed, or sedated. This is why it can cause withdrawal symptoms after prolonged use.
It’s commonly prescribed by licensed medical professionals and used with other drugs, as it’s considered to be more effective that way.
How Long Does Gabapentin Stay in Your System?
How long does gabapentin stay in your system depends on several factors, including kidney function, drug interactions, age, consumption, metabolism, and food intake. Here’s why:
- Kidney disease and function— Kidneys eliminate gabapentin from the body. If you have impaired kidney function, your body will take longer to clear gabapentin.
- Drug interactions — If you use gabapentin with other drugs, it can increase the amount of the substance in your body, making gabapentin stay longer in your system. Other drugs commonly used with gabapentin are substances such as naproxen, cimetidine, and various opioids.
- Age — The rule is the older you are, the longer the drug stays in your system.
- Consumption — How often do you take gabapentin, and in what form? The more you take it, the longer it’ll be present. Taking gabapentin in the form of pills usually means it’ll stay in your system shorter compared to other forms.
- Metabolism — The faster your metabolism, the faster you’ll process gabapentin.
- Food intake — High-protein foods can speed up the removal of gabapentin.
Most substances in our bodies are metabolized by the liver. However, a controlled substance such as gabapentin is metabolized by the kidneys. Because of this, it normally doesn’t remain in the body long.
Here’s how to calculate how long gabapentin stays in your body: if we take that the normal half-life of gabapentin is seven hours for most people, it’ll take 48 hours for the substance to be completely removed from your system.
This means the drug will stay in your body for two days after the last time you take it. This is also the window of time in which a lab test, such as hair tests, urine drug tests, and more, can show gabapentin use.
Gabapentin and Drug Tests
Drug tests don’t usually check for the presence of gabapentin because this isn’t a federally controlled substance. However, this can be done on request.
Here’s how long gabapentin stays in your system according to drug test detection:
- Urine test — Urine tests are the most common gabapentin drug test. It detects gabapentin one to two days after the last use. However, older people have slower metabolisms and longer detection times. As gabapentin is processed by the kidneys and not the liver, it can be removed from the body through urination. This means increased water intake can help you get rid of gabapentin.
- Blood test — Blood drug screenings will show gabapentin use from several hours for up to two days after last use, depending on the gabapentin dose.
- Hair test — These gabapentin tests are very rare, but they can detect the presence of gabapentin for up to 90 days.
- Saliva test — Gabapentin’s presence in the saliva is undetectable.
If you or someone you know suffers from substance abuse, such as gabapentin or illicit drugs, you should consider drug rehab in an addiction treatment facility. You’ll get a treatment placement tailored to your needs and be able to achieve long-term recovery.
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How long can I safely take gabapentin?
You can safely take gabapentin as long as it helps you with pain and you aren’t experiencing any side effects.
Does gabapentin heal nerve damage?
No, gabapentin doesn’t heal nerve damage, but it helps with nerve pain resulting from nerve damage.
How Long is Gabapentin Detectable in Your System?
The period gabapentin is detectable in your system depends on several factors, including your age, overall health, and other legal drug use.
You should only take prescribed gabapentin as part of professional medical advice.
If you have a test coming up, it’ll probably show you’ve been taking gabapentin recently, so you should have a doctor’s prescription to show.
Or, check out our Clean Stream Urine Kit review to pass the urine test without problems.