What is Dilantin?

Dilantin phenytoin is a prescription anti-seizure medication, also known as an anticonvulsant medication. It is available as a chewable tablet, liquid syrup, or Dilantin extended-release capsule. Dilantin is used to treat seizures, particularly tonic-clonic grand mal seizures, the types of seizures that affect the whole brain. Antiseizure medication is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat behavior or mood disorders such as bipolar disorder. Taking phenytoin (Dilantin) can also treat irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and neuropathic pain. Dilantin phenytoin is one of the main medications used in hospitals to treat acute seizures and status epilepticus, seizures that occur following surgery. US brand names of Dilantin include:

  • Phenytek
  • Dilantin
  • Dilantin-125
  • Dilantin Infatabs

Dilantin Effects

Antiepileptic medications like Dilantin work by slowing down impulses in the brain that cause grand mal seizures and partial seizures. It is thought that they act on the sodium channels in the neurons and stop overactive neuronal firing, which is what is associated with seizures. Like many other medications and anticonvulsant medication, Dilantin can cause some serious side effects. Dilantin may cause side effects including:

  • Increased hair growth
  • Hypotension, low blood pressure
  • Stomach cramps, nausea, and/or loss of appetite
  • Gum bleeding and overgrowth similar to gingivitis
  • Insomnia
  • Mild tremors
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Angry or violent behavior
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Signs of Dilantin Abuse and Addiction

Because Dilantin phenytoin does not produce significant euphoria it is not a drug of abuse and is not considered a controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (US DEA). Anticonvulsant medication abuse is rare and it is usually in conjunction with other substance abuse issues, including drinking alcohol while taking Dilantin. Often, those who do misuse Dilantin with other drugs or alcohol, it is due to co-occurring mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, or depression. Drinking alcohol with taking Dilantin can reduce the amount of phenytoin in the blood which will reduce its effectiveness and increase the side effects of Dilantin, including an increased risk of grand mal seizures. Other drug interaction with Dilantin is common and can cause side effects, including supplements, herbal products, and over-the-counter medicines. You should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before mixing any other medications with Dilantin.

There is a possibility of phenytoin toxicity and overdose associated with taking more than the recommended dosage. Symptoms of Dilantin overdose include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Fainting
  • Loss of balance
  • Tremor
  • Muscle stiffness or weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual movement of the eye
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Slow or shallow breathing

Dilantin Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping Dilantin addiction suddenly can lead to an increased risk of seizures, including temporal lobe epilepsy and tonic clonic grand mal seizures.

Long-Term Side Effects of Dilantin Abuse

Dilantin phenytoin is a necessary medication used to treat many seizure disorders and status epilepticus, however, there are some serious side effects to Dilantin with long-term use. It is important to note that a physician has prescribed an anticonvulsant medication because the benefits outweigh the side effects. Seizures are very dangerous and even fatal. If you experience serious side effects of Dilantin, especially issues with your heart, and chest pain, or are allergic to phenytoin, you should contact your prescribing doctor immediately or get emergency medical care. Long-term effects of Dilantin include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Liver damage
  • Yellowing of the skin due to liver disease
  • Osteopenia osteoporosis
  • Bone marrow problems
  • Birth defects if taken while pregnant
  • Neuropathy
  • Insomnia

Dilantin Addiction Treatment

Anticonvulsant medication like Dilantin is not a drug of abuse. However drinking alcohol on Dilantin or other forms of substance abuse, can decrease its effectiveness or cause serious side effects, including an increased risk of frontal lobe seizures. Substance abuse can also increase the chance of developing long-term side effects such as liver disease, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and osteoporosis. It is important to stop substance abuse while on Dilantin. If you are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, there are several forms of treatment available to help your recovery. Drug rehab can offer you the best chance of addiction recovery through personalized treatment which can include several levels of care including medical detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient rehab. Addiction treatment will include several options for evidence-based therapies including individual therapy, group therapy, 12-step programming, and family therapy.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder, addiction treatment is available. DayBreak Treatment Solutions can help answer any questions you may have about drug rehab.


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