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Seizure Medicines for Alcohol Withdrawal

Topic Overview

Seizure medicines are normally used to treat seizures, but they are also used successfully to treat mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms during detoxification from alcohol dependence. Currently, there is good evidence that carbamazepine (for example, Tegretol), valproate (for example, Depakote), and phenytoin (for example, Dilantin) are effective in reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms and emotional distress related to withdrawal.footnote 1 Seizure medicines can be used safely over a long period of time.

Side effects of seizure medicines can include:

  • Weight gain.
  • Hair loss.
  • Tremor or shakiness.
  • Birth defects in your fetus if you are pregnant.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on seizure medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take seizure medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take seizure medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Kosten TR, O'Connor PG (2003). Management of drug and alcohol withdrawal. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(18): 1786-1795.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerPeter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Christine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017


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