Epilepsy Triggers Causes Alcohol

According to Epilepsy Action, seizures are more often linked to alcoholism than with any other type of substance abuse. The relationship between alcohol and seizures is somewhat difficult to determine. It’s clear that alcohol can trigger and/or aggravate seizures in some people with epilepsy; however, the amount of alcohol required to produce seizures varies from person to person.

How are Alcohol and Epilepsy Related?

While an individual is under the influence of alcohol, continuing to drink can actually reduce the risk of seizures. As the effects of the alcohol wear off, the risk of a seizure increases. These are known as “alcohol withdrawal seizures,” and there is a spectrum of withdrawal manifestations. An individual is especially susceptible to alcohol seizures if he has been drinking heavily. Lack of sleep can also be a precipitating factor.

Even someone who does not have epilepsy can experience alcohol withdrawal seizures. Symptoms of epilepsy can develop in individuals who engage in binge drinking and/or have an alcohol addiction. Seizures related to excessive drinking can cause a condition known as “status epilepticus.” This is a potentially fatal condition in which an individual experiences one long seizure or multiple consecutive seizures without gaining consciousness in between episodes.

Alcohol seizures can also occur as a result of:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Injury due to falling while inebriated
  • Lack of sleep
  • Nutritional deficiencies characteristic of alcohol abuse
  • The imbalance alcohol creates in the body’s electrolytes due to dehydration during withdrawal.

Alcohol, Seizures and Medication

The effects of alcohol and seizure medication together have the potential to produce some serious effects, including:

  • Aggravated side effects of antiepileptic drugs (i.e. sedative effects)
  • Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol
  • Interference with the body’s ability to absorb seizure medication
  • Reduced effectiveness of seizure medication.

Can I Drink on Epilepsy Medication?

Individuals with epilepsy often need to examine their reasons for wanting to drink. It’s not uncommon for people with epilepsy to experience mood disorders. Some people may not even realize that their depressed or anxious feelings are the result of their epilepsy, and they may want to use alcohol as an escape. Alcohol and epilepsy-induced mood disorders are not a good mix, however. As described, alcohol can provoke epilepsy seizures, symptoms of mood disorders and overall poor health.

Alcohol and seizures are not generally a problem for people who drink a small to moderate amount of alcohol — the recommendation is at most one drink for women or two drinks for men in a day. It’s still a good idea to check with your doctor first before you decide to drink. She can advise you as to whether it’s a good idea for you to drink or not.


Epilepsy Action Staff. (n.d.). Alcohol and drugs. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from http://www.epilepsy.org.au/alcohol_drugs.asp

Epilepsy.com Staff. (n.d.). Alcohol. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/alcohol

Epilepsy Ontario Staff. (n.d.). Alcohol and seizures. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from http://www.epilepsyontario.org/client/EO/EOWeb.nsf/web/Alcohol