The reason for this is that heavy continued drinking can actually change the chemical makeup of the brain to the point where it thinks that it has to have alcohol in order to function properly. When the brain has reached that level of alcohol dependency and you stop giving it what it thinks it needs, it reacts in a negative way. Flashing lights, especially repetitive on and off or patterns, may trigger a seizure. However, someone who is having an alcohol withdrawal seizure may not need any trigger other than stopping alcohol use.

What neurological disorders are caused by alcohol?

There are a number of neurologic diseases associated with alcohol consumption, including: Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, alcoholic neuropathy, alcohol withdrawal syndrome, alcoholic cerebellar degeneration, alcoholic myopathy and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Sometimes these seizures can last longer than 5 minutes, or occur one after the other. These types of seizures are known as status epilepticus and can lead to brain injury or death. In addition, binge drinking can trigger seizures during withdrawal or detox, even for those who don’t have a history of long-term alcohol use. Binge drinking can still lead to withdrawal, as withdrawal can stem from the body adjusting to a reduction in alcohol after a period of heavy use. Seizures and alcohol can be related, but this primarily comes from the withdrawal and detox process from long-term alcohol consumption, or even after heavy binge drinking. With any substance that’s regularly in your system, your body will adapt and adjust to its impact on your system.

What Exactly Causes an Alcohol Withdrawl Seizure?

Anticonvulsant therapy is usually not required for alcohol withdrawal seizures. We showed that 68% of AUD patients exhibited a moderate-AWS, which is a higher prevalence than the one reported in a previous study (Mirijello et al., 2015). In the present study, all patients were recruited in a special unit for alcohol detoxification. We also found that AUD patients with moderate-AWS reported higher alcohol consumption during the month preceding withdrawal than those with mild-AWS.

  • Loss of appetite and general mood swings are common, as the levels of behavioral chemicals in the brain vary rapidly while going through withdrawal.
  • Additionally, there is a shocking 4.8x increase in the mortality rate of those who experience seizures compared to those who do not experience seizures during withdrawal.
  • Get emergency medical help if you think you’re experiencing symptoms of AWD.
  • The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms progressively increases over years of alcohol abuse, and repeated detoxifications augment the likelihood of alcohol withdrawal seizures (83,84).

During this period, the decreased sensitivity of GABA receptors causes alcohol withdrawal symptoms. One of these symptoms is a lowered seizure threshold that increases the risk of seizures. People with severe addictions or a long history of alcohol misuse may suffer serious withdrawal symptoms when quitting. People should talk to a doctor about medical detox, which may prevent serious issues, such as delirium tremens. Some people find that inpatient rehab or support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are helpful.

Can a person with epilepsy drink alcohol?

As safe alcohol consumption varies from person to person, and different sources recommend various intakes, it is important to take an individualized approach. People should talk to a healthcare professional about their drinking history and personal risk factors to get tailored advice on safe alcohol consumption. In order to know if you are having an alcohol withdrawal seizure, it’s important to know what alcohol-related seizures feel like. If you are having seizures as a result of alcohol withdrawal, you might experience the feeling of a loss of consciousness that you are slow to wake up from.

  • Damage to the hippocampus region (responsible for memory creation) is severely affected by drinking and “blackouts,” leading to short-term memory loss and brain cell death.
  • When someone enters alcohol detox they are often given benzos to reduce the chances of seizures.
  • In patients with hepatocellular or respiratory insufficiency, oxazepam was preferred to avoid over sedation or respiratory depression.
  • If you notice someone having a seizure, there are ways you can help them.

If you are seeking drug and alcohol related addiction rehab for yourself or a loved one, the sponsored hotline is a confidential and convenient solution. While some people have specific triggers, for most people, there’s no known cause for these seizures. Focal seizures and their symptoms can be misdiagnosed as a different medical problem such as narcolepsy, migraine, or mental illness.

Alcohol withdrawal seizures

If you don’t actually lose consciousness, you may experience repetitive and uncontrolled movements throughout your body. An alcohol withdrawal seizure may feel like a loss of consciousness alcoholic seizures treatment which you are slow to wake up from. If you are conscious during an alcohol withdrawal seizure, you may experience repetitive, uncontrolled movements of part or all of your body.

Korsakoff syndrome often appears after an episode of Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which is acute alcohol-related brain dysfunction. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can damage both the brain and liver, causing lasting damage. Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention. Alcohol has the potential to enhance some side effects of anti-seizure medications, including drowsiness and dizziness. Alcohol can also impact how certain medications are absorbed by the body.

Don’t Mix Your Medications

Unless a patient has a known underlying seizure disorder, prophylactic anticonvulsants are not routinely used. Alcohol withdrawal seizures are typically grand mal, nonfocal, and one or two in number. Regardless, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain should be done in any patient who presents with new onset of seizures. As previously discussed, benzodiazepines are believed to be sufficient and effective prevention of alcohol-related seizures. A patient who has had a seizure should be observed in the hospital for at least 24 hours afterward.

The present study aimed at determining whether AWS severity contributes to the heterogeneity of sleep changes, brain alterations and cognitive deficits observed in AUD patients early in abstinence. We also found that lower percentage of N3 sleep related to cognitive deficits (short-term memory and executive functions) both directly and indirectly via GM shrinkage in AUD patients. Long-term alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing dementia and other learning or memory-related developments.

A study by The Recovery Village found heavy drinkers were 45% more likely than light or moderate drinkers to experience seizures during withdrawal and 73% more likely to have had a seizure in general. Thyrotoxicosis, anticholinergic drug poisoning, and amphetamine or cocaine use can result in signs of increased sympathetic activity and altered mental status. Central nervous system infection or hemorrhage can cause seizures and mental status changes.

alcohol withdrawal seizure brain damage