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Can Alcoholism Lead To Seizures?

by Landmark Recovery

November 20, 2020
A doctor who monitors individuals undergoing alcohol withdrawal, to make sure they dont have seizures


Substance abuse is a major problem in the United States, and alcohol is the most commonly misused substance available. 

Though alcohol is perfectly legal (when you’re of age), and can be responsibly consumed as part of a balanced lifestyle, alcohol sometimes poses serious threats to those who use it. Indeed, nearly 1 in 10 working adults die each year as a result of alcohol misuse.

Alcohol affects the body’s central nervous system (CNS). This is why consuming alcohol feels good for most people. Unfortunately, many people consume too much alcohol and their CNS is irreparably harmed, drastically impacting their neurological health.

One issue that can arise from alcohol abuse is seizures. Many studies have found correlations between alcohol consumption and seizures, and researchers have diligently laid out the facts regarding the issue.


What Are Seizures?

An individual looking up the connection between alcohol and seizures

Chances are you’ve seen them portrayed in movies and on TV, but what do you know about this neurological condition?

Well, your brain is wired to send and receive electrical signals within your body. This is how your hands clenched into fists, or your brain realizes you are cold. These signals are called controlled electrical impulses.

When someone has a seizure, these electrical impulses go haywire causing an uncontrolled electric disturbance. Their behavior, emotions, and even consciousness can change. They may not have control of their appendages, or they might shake uncontrollably.

These episodes can last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Any person experiencing one lasting longer needs to be immediately treated by medical professionals.


Types of Seizures

Many people associate seizures with a neurological condition known as epilepsy. However, just because a person experiences seizures does not mean that they have epilepsy.

There are several different types of seizures:

  •         Partial Seizures: These are also known as “focal” seizures. There are two kinds; simple and complex. A partial seizure can alter behavior, cause a person to experience nausea and sweating, feel pain or discomfort, feel numb or tingly, and have a rapid heart rate. A complex partial seizure will also affect a person’s memory and awareness before, during, and right after the seizure
  •         Generalized Seizures: There are three subtypes here: grand mal, myoclonic, and atonic. These are the most commonly experienced seizures. A person having a generalized seizure will experience slowed breathing as their body jerks uncontrollably. The person might lose control of their bowels and bladder, and they may bite their tongue. It can take several hours to recover from this type of seizure


Risk Factors

While healthcare providers aren’t sure what exactly causes seizures, they do know that there are several things that put people at risk for them, including:

  •         Brain abnormalities
  •         Brain tumors
  •         Genetics
  •         Infections
  •         Stroke or heart attack
  •         Traumatic brain injuries

Beyond this, plenty of research shows that alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol withdrawal can play a role in a person’s seizure activity.


Binge Drinking and Seizures

Binge drinking is one common activity that can set off alcohol-related seizures, especially in those with epilepsy.

If a woman consumes 4+ drinks or a man consumes 5+ drinks in the span of a few hours, this is considered binge drinking, and it can be incredibly dangerous.

Consuming lots of alcohol in a short period can overwhelm the body’s central nervous system causing important systems within the body to crash.


Alcohol Withdrawal and Seizures

A doctor who monitors individuals undergoing alcohol withdrawal, to make sure they dont have seizures

Many people are addicted to alcohol. In America alone, 14+ million people report having an alcohol use disorder.

Seizures related to alcohol consumption are most commonly experienced during the process of withdrawal from alcohol for an alcoholic.

When going through withdrawal, the body will experience severe symptoms as it detoxes. Seizures can occur as a result.


Delirium Tremens

One specific type that can develop during withdrawal is called delirium tremens.

As the alcohol leaves the system, the person’s mental and nervous systems experience drastic changes. Hallucinations and tremors can accompany the tremens and possible grand-mal seizures.

During the later stages of withdrawal, the person’s body will be tired and their mind disoriented. They will experience rapid mood changes while being extremely sensitive to light, sound, and touch. They may feel agitated or panicked, and they may develop seizures.

If a person is experiencing these symptoms during withdrawal from alcohol, they need to seek medical attention immediately as delirium tremens can be fatal.


What Comes Next?

If you or a loved one abuses alcohol while living with epilepsy, this is a dangerous place to be.

Here at Landmark Recovery, we’ll help you be a better version of you through meaningful healing and recovery from your addictions.

Please contact us today so we can determine the best path forward for you. Call our friendly admissions team at 888-448-0302.


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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.