Alcohol as a Seizure Trigger

Indeed, electrophysiological studies have demonstrated a critical role for the inferior colliculus (IC) in the initiation of audiogenic seizures in rodents. Acute alcohol intoxication suppresses spontaneously and acoustically evoked neuronal firing in the IC central nucleus (14), whereas at the transition to seizure, sustained increases in firing persist during wild running, the initial phase of the seizure (15). The IC external cortex is believed to amplify and propagate neuronal activity originating in the IC central nucleus. Neurons within the deep layers of the superior colliculus (16) and the periaqueductal gray (17) also may play a role in the initiation of audiogenic seizures. It is hypothesized that seizure activity propagates from the IC to deep layers of the superior colliculus (a major output of the IC) to trigger the wild running phase of the audiogenic seizure. The deep layers of the superior colliculus send projections directly to the spinal cord via the pontine reticular formation and the periaqueductal gray.

  • A small subgroup of these individuals experiences a more complicated syndrome that includes hallucinations, seizures, delirium and/or more severe autonomic hyperactivity.4,16,17 The signs, symptoms, and timing of AWS are summarized in Figure 1.
  • This review is limited by the overall poor quality of included studies, most of which were at high/serious risk of bias.
  • We divided studies based on intervention and summarized evidence narratively.

These seizures may be single or in small clusters and are generally classified as grand mal or tonic-clonic nonfocal. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, influencing the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Ordinarily, the excitatory (glutamate) and inhibitory (GABA) neurotransmitters are in a state of homeostasis [Figure 1a]. Alcohol facilitates GABA action, causing decreased CNS excitability [Figure 1b]. In the long-term, it causes a decrease in the number of GABA receptors (down regulation).

Treatment / Management

While other types of alcohol are poisonous to humans, it’s thought that we developed the ability to drink ethanol because it’s naturally produced in fallen fruit. The production and consumption of alcohol have also been practiced for thousands of years. When you drink heavily, it can lead to various serious consequences, including dependence and addiction. Alcohol Awareness Month is a public health program organized to ensure that families and communities have resources and information available about the dangers of unhealthy alcohol consumption, and accessible options to control the crisis of alcohol misuse. However, certain food groups also have benefits when it comes to helping with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and detoxification. Alcohol has the potential to enhance some side effects of anti-seizure medications, including drowsiness and dizziness.

  • However, healthcare workers should be aware that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and lead to death.
  • We included interventional and observational studies that reported outcomes of clinical interventions aimed at treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome in adults in the ED.
  • In their role as gatekeepers to systems of care, ED clinicians should also be familiar with levels of care and behavioral interventions available to patients with AUD.
  • According to a research study, 46 percent of those who had an alcohol-related seizure did not have another condition that could lead to a seizure.
  • That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals.

We searched Pubmed for articles published in English on pharmacological management of alcohol withdrawal in humans with no limit on the date of publication. Articles not relevant to clinical management were excluded based on the titles alcohol withdrawal seizure and abstract available. There were four meta-analyses, 9 systematic reviews, 26 review articles and other type of publications like textbooks. Complicated alcohol withdrawal presents with hallucinations, seizures or delirium tremens.


Our main objective was to synthesize evidence from published studies on the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome among adult ED patients. Long-term alcohol use can increase your risk of developing epilepsy, a condition where you are prone to having seizures. While the reason for this is not fully understood, alcohol does create changes in receptors in your brain that affect your likelihood of having a seizure. While epilepsy can develop on its own in people who do not use alcohol, long-term alcohol use will increase the risk of epilepsy developing in some people.

Can You Die From Alcohol Withdrawal? How to Detox Safely – Business Insider

Can You Die From Alcohol Withdrawal? How to Detox Safely.

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That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals. Drinking alcohol in small amounts generally does not trigger seizures, but seizures can result from alcohol withdrawal. When you call our helpline, you’ll be connected with a representative who can assist you in finding mental health and addiction treatment resources at any of the Ark Behavioral Health addiction treatment facilities.

Can Drinking Alcohol Cause Seizures?

All Addiction Resource content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible. Alcohol works as a depressant on the central nervous system and alters the function of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. Inhibitory neurotransmitters prevent certain chemical messages from passing on. All data analyzed during this study are included in the published article. Table 2 also lists the main outcomes and key findings for the studies we summarized. We report our full electronic search strategy for MEDLINE (Ovid) in Appendix 1.

alcohol withdrawal seizure

Compared to those who are monitored in the hospital, only one to four percent actually die from symptoms of delirium tremens. Experiencing an alcohol-related seizure indicates that a person is suffering from extreme withdrawal symptoms. An alternative adjunctive medication useful in patients with refractory DT is haloperidol given in doses of 0.5-5 mg by intramuscular route every min[29] or 2-20 mg/h[34] while continuing to give diazepam mg every 1-2 h. Newer antipsychotics like risperidone (1-5 mg/day) or olanzapine (5-10 mg/day) may have a better safety profile than haloperidol (2, 5-10 mg/day)[7] and are preferred as adjuncts to benzodiazepine treatment.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

From there, you may continue in residential or outpatient addiction treatment, depending on your needs. Addiction treatment often involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, group and individual therapies, and therapies to address co-occurring mental health issues. If you’re taking any drug or substance that can cause chemical dependence, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous. When your body develops chemical dependence on alcohol, it adapts to a consistent chemical balance change over time. When you stop drinking abruptly, a significant chemical change happens all at once. This will throw your body into chemical imbalance, which leads to uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal.

alcohol withdrawal seizure