In this blog post, we are going to answer the question, “Can I drive on gabapentin?”. Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog and is used for a number of conditions.
However, this medicine can cause a number of side effects including sleepiness and impairment of alertness. This blog will cover why you should be careful when it comes to driving, or any other activity that requires your full mental alertness, after taking gabapentin.
Can I drive on gabapentin?
No, you should not drive after taking gabapentin, especially if you are a new user and you don’t know how this medication makes you feel.
Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog. Gabapentin basically mimics the actions of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
GABA works by inhibiting the excessive neuronal firing in the brain which reduces the frequency of epileptic seizures. The most common side effect produced after enhancing the inhibitory system of your brain is sedation, which is often paired with dizziness and excessive fatigue.
Gabapentin is not an easy medication and it causes a number of different effects in different individuals. It is impossible to predict how your body will react once it is exposed to this medication.
In some people, gabapentin causes impairment of motor coordination, reduces focus and alertness, and significantly causes drowsiness. It is not suitable to drive under such conditions.
It not only puts you in danger, but it can also become life-threatening for other people out there. If you have been using gabapentin for a while and it does not affect your alertness or motor coordination, then you can definitely drive after taking gabapentin.
However, a new user should give it a few days to explore how this medication affects your body. Once you’re certain that this med does not affect your alertness, even the slightest, then it is safe for you to continue driving while having gabapentin in your system.
What other activities should you avoid if gabapentin impairs your mental alertness?
If gabapentin messes up your alertness and you feel tired, dizzy, or drowsy during the day time, make sure you avoid the following activities:
If you’re an employee in some factory where you are supposed to operate heavy machinery, don’t! Your drowsiness might cause an accident and can make you or others around you severely injured.
Drinking alcohol or taking any sedative
Make sure you’re not taking any other medication that might be contributing to your drowsiness. Do not drink alcohol, or you’ll end up dulling your senses even more.
Alcohol itself is responsible for causing fatigue and drowsiness. It clouds your mind and messes up with your mental alertness and it would make a life threatening combination with gabapentin.
The most common and first to appear side effect of the concomitant use of alcohol and gabapentin is depression. They both act on the inhibitory system which is controlled by inhibitory neurotransmitters and can cause depression.
Both alcohol and gabapentin have tiredness, fatigue, dizziness and drowsiness as common symptoms. When these two are taken excessively together, they cause extreme sedation, which could result in blackouts or unconsciousness.
The blackout could last for hours and it dangerously slows your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and every other metabolic function in your body. Make sure you cut back on alcohol while you’re being treated with gabapentin.
What are the additional side effects of gabapentin?
- Xerostomia or dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Swollen hands and feet
- Vision problems
- Cloudy mind
- Joint pain
- Difficulty in remembering things
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle twitching
- Back pain
- Increased appetite
Gabapentin can cause some serious side effects. These include:
- Suicidal behavior
- Impaired motor coordination
- Thrombocytopenia or decreased levels of platelets
- Water retention
- Rhabdomyolysis, a condition associated with abnormal breakdown of muscles
- Swelling or tenderness in different parts of the body.
- Allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc.
These side effects can vary from person to person. It is impossible to predict how your body will react once it is exposed to this medication. Some people get away with mild side effects, while others suffer terribly.
The muscle and joint pain in some people get so bad that it ends up affecting their normal life activities.
Some people get severely affected and develop some of the serious, rare and disturbing side effects that can linger around for much longer even after the discontinuation of your treatment.
How to enhance your mental alertness while being on gabapentin?
There are a few tips that may help increase your alertness and energy levels. These include:
- When you start taking your med at night/bedtime, make sure that it’s the last thing you do. Do not engage in any other activity after that. Just lie down and drift off to sleep.
- Staying active is the best way to fight against tiredness. Make sure you workout at least 3 to 4 times a week. Exercise releases happy chemicals in your brain. It not only makes you feel good, but also spikes your energy levels.
- Caffeine can affect your sleep by keeping you awake for a longer period of time and can compromise your alertness the next day. Cut back on it as much as you can.
- Drink plenty of water. Water clears out toxins from your body. Try making a detox water by adding your favourite fruits to make drinking water less boring.
How to ensure the proper use of gabapentin?
Immediately talk to your healthcare provider if you experience unusual side effects while taking gabapentin. Do not recommend this drug to someone else and use it as long as your doctor has advised.
Inform your doctor if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. It is extremely important to ensure safety of your meds during your pregnancy. Some meds can cross placenta and are capable of causing unwanted side effects in the growing fetus.
Inform your doctor if you’re a breastfeeding mother. Gabapentin may be capable of passing into the breastmilk and may cause side effects in newborns.
Do not stop gabapentin abruptly. If it’s time for you to stop this med, your doctor will simply recommend a taper schedule for you, which should be followed vigilantly if you wish to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.
Make sure you use this medication or any other medication only when your doctor has advised it. Using medications which can affect your brain is not something ideal and should not be encouraged unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
Make sure you discuss everything in detail with your healthcare provider and ask if you’re at the best possible dose of gabapentin. Also inform your doctor if you’re taking any other medication.
Drug interactions should be an important consideration before taking two or more medicines together. Yes, drugs in combination are often used to achieve better therapeutic response but this is not the case with every interaction.
Some drugs are highly incompatible with one another. They often cancel out each other’s effects or antagonise them. Some drugs are so incompatible that they end up changing the entire chemical composition of one another.
Some interfere with metabolism or bioavailability (the rate and extent at which the active drug moiety enters systemic circulation/blood). This can lead to drug accumulation in different parts of the body.
It is always advised to inform your healthcare provider of any medicine you take before getting a new prescription. Your doctor will make sure not to prescribe any such drug which might interfere with those you are already taking.
In this blog post, we have talked about driving after taking gabapentin. It is not suitable to drive on gabapentin, especially if you are a new user and you don’t know how this medication makes you feel. Gabapentin is a GABA analog, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
The most common side effect produced after enhancing the inhibitory system of your brain is sedation, which is often paired with dizziness and excessive fatigue. Gabapentin is not an easy medication and it causes a number of different effects in different individuals.
Make sure you are not using any other medication that might interact negatively with gabapentin or enhance its side effects. Drug interactions should be an important consideration before taking two or more medicines together.
FAQs: can i drive on gabapentin
How long should you take gabapentin for nerve pain?
It depends on the severity of your condition. Some people take this medication for about 2-3 months and they find a significant difference in their condition. However, some may continue to take this medication for much longer but don’t find any relief in their nerve pain. If you think gabapentin is not working for you, reach out to your healthcare provider. Do not stop gabapentin abruptly.
Does gabapentin make you sleepy?
Yes, gabapentin can make you sleepy and tired. It is one of the most commonly reported side effects of this medication. The reason behind this side effect of gabapentin is its mechanism of action.
Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This inhibitory action calms your muscles down and starts inducing sleep.
How long does it take for gabapentin to work on pain?
Gabapentin typically takes 2 to 3 weeks to kick in. However, it takes much longer than that to significantly reduce your pain. It also depends on the severity of your condition and how your body reacts to the presence of gabapentin.
What should I avoid while taking gabapentin?
- Narcotic analgesics: Both narcotic opioid analgesics and gabapentin decrease the amount of excitatory neurotransmitters in your brain. This can slow down your physiological functions including breathing rate.
- Alcohol can also act as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. The synergistic effects of alcohol and gabapentin can cause severe depression and suicidal behavior.
- Certain diabetic agents may react with gabapentin and cause increased water retention, which results in swelling or edema in upper and lower extremities, or any other part of the body.
Does gabapentin make you tired or give you energy?
Gabapentin slows your system down because it mimics the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, that reduces the neuronal firing in your brain and causes muscle relaxation.
What is the most common side effect of gabapentin?
The most common side effects of gabapentin include:
- Xerostomia or dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Swollen hands and feet
- Vision problems
- Cloudy mind
- Joint pain
- Gabriel C Quintero – Review about gabapentin misuse, interactions, contraindications and side effects and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5308580/
- Gabapentin https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/21561-gabapentin
- Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects https://americanaddictioncenters.org/neurontin-abuse/gabapentin-cause-withdrawal-symptoms
- National Library of Medicine – Gabapentin https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a694007.html
- Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning https://www.dovepress.com/effects-of-caffeine-on-sleep-quality-and-daytime-functioning-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-RMHP
- Physical activity https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm