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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.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.)

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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