11 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
Fact checked

Did you know that alcohol, often considered a source of relaxation and enjoyment, can also be associated with a serious medical condition called alcoholic seizures? 

Yes, it’s true! While alcohol can provide temporary relief, excessive and long-term consumption can lead to a range of health complications, including seizures. These seizures, triggered by alcohol, can be alarming and even life-threatening. 

Let’s delve into the intriguing world of alcohol and seizures, exploring the causes, risks, and ways to prevent these seizures from hijacking your well-being. So grab a seat, put that drink aside, and let’s uncover the surprising truths behind alcohol and seizures that you may not have known before.

Can alcohol cause you to have seizures? This is a question that often arises when exploring the realm of alcoholic seizures. While alcohol is known for its relaxing and euphoric effects, it can also have detrimental consequences on the brain, potentially leading to seizures. 

Alcoholic seizures, also known as alcohol-induced seizures, are a distressing and hazardous manifestation of excessive alcohol consumption. 

Continue reading as we delve deep into the concept of alcoholic seizures, exploring their nature and potential dangers.

Are Alcoholic Seizures Dangerous?

Absolutely! Alcoholic seizures can be extremely dangerous, potentially even life-threatening. They occur due to the toxic effects of alcohol on the brain, leading to abnormal electrical activity and uncontrolled muscle contractions. 

These seizures can disrupt your life and, in severe cases, result in serious injuries. So, being well-informed about their risks and taking appropriate precautions is essential.

What Does An Alcoholic Seizure Look Like?

Picture this: You or someone you know suddenly experience a seizure after consuming alcohol. During an alcoholic seizure, the individual may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness: The person may become unresponsive and unaware of their surroundings.
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements: The body may jerk or convulse involuntarily.
  • Rigidity: The muscles might become stiff, making it difficult for the person to move.
  • Frothing at the mouth: Excessive saliva or foam may appear due to intense muscle contractions.
  • Incontinence: Some individuals may lose control of their bladder or bowels during a seizure.
  • Fatigue or confusion: After the seizure subsides, the person may feel tired and disoriented.

Alcoholic Seizures vs. Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures

Now, let’s clear up a common misconception. Alcoholic seizures and alcohol withdrawal seizures are not the same thing. Here’s how they differ:

Alcoholic Seizures

  • Typically occur during a binge-drinking episode or shortly after heavy alcohol consumption.
  • They are associated with the acute toxic effects of alcohol on the brain.
  • This can occur even if the person is not experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Are more common in individuals with a long history of heavy alcohol use.

Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures

  • Occur as a result of suddenly stopping or reducing alcohol intake after prolonged and heavy drinking.
  • Are part of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which includes a range of symptoms like tremors, anxiety, insomnia, and hallucinations.
  • Usually appear within 48 hours after the last drink but can occur later in severe cases.
  • Tend to be more prevalent in individuals who have developed a physical dependence on alcohol.

Can Alcoholic Seizures Cause Brain Damage?

Yes, there is a risk of brain damage associated with alcoholic seizures. Prolonged or repeated seizures can lead to a condition called status epilepticus, characterised by continuous or recurrent seizures without recovery in between. This prolonged seizure activity can impair brain function and cause lasting damage.

Additionally, chronic alcohol abuse itself can harm the brain, resulting in cognitive deficits and other neurological problems. Alcohol-related brain damage may manifest as memory loss, difficulty with coordination, impaired judgment, and decreased cognitive abilities.

Whether you’re concerned about your well-being or that of someone you care about, understanding the causes of seizures in alcoholics can provide valuable insight. So, let’s uncover the reasons behind these seizures and identify who is prone to experiencing them.

What Are The Causes Of Seizures In Alcoholics?

When it comes to seizures in alcoholics, multiple factors come into play. Here are some of the key causes:

Alcohol Withdrawal: Withdrawal from alcohol is one of the primary triggers for seizures in individuals who have developed a physical dependence on alcohol [2]. Prolonged and heavy alcohol use can lead to changes in the brain’s chemistry and functioning. When alcohol is abruptly removed from the equation, the brain struggles to readjust, leading to withdrawal symptoms such as seizures.

Kindling Effect: The kindling effect refers to the phenomenon where the brain becomes increasingly sensitive to the effects of alcohol and withdrawal over time. Each episode of withdrawal and subsequent alcohol use can intensify the brain’s response, making seizures more likely to occur [1]. Essentially, repeated cycles of alcohol consumption and withdrawal create a vicious cycle that heightens the risk of seizures.

Alcohol-Induced Neurotoxicity: Excessive alcohol consumption can have neurotoxic effects on the brain, damaging the delicate balance of neurotransmitters and brain cells. This neurotoxicity can disrupt the brain’s electrical activity and trigger seizures [3]. The exact mechanisms underlying this process are complex and not fully understood, but it is clear that alcohol-induced neurotoxicity contributes to seizure occurrence.

Who Is Prone to Alcoholic Seizures?

While anyone who consumes alcohol excessively can be at risk of experiencing seizures, certain individuals are more prone to these events. Here are some factors that increase vulnerability:

Chronic and Heavy Alcohol Use: Individuals who engage in long-term, heavy alcohol consumption are more likely to develop seizures [3]. The risk escalates with the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed, as prolonged exposure to high levels of alcohol increases the chances of brain damage and subsequent seizure activity.

Previous Seizure Episodes: Having a history of seizures, regardless of the cause, increases the likelihood of experiencing alcoholic seizures [1]. The brain’s susceptibility to seizures can persist even after the initial event, making subsequent seizures more probable.

Alcohol Dependence and Addiction: Individuals who have developed a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol are more susceptible to seizures [2]. Dependence arises from the brain’s adaptation to regular alcohol intake, and when alcohol is suddenly withheld, the brain’s delicate balance is disrupted potentially triggering seizures.

Co-occurring Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as liver disease, kidney dysfunction, or epilepsy, can heighten the risk of seizures in alcoholics [3]. These conditions may already compromise the brain’s functioning, making it more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol and increasing the chances of seizure activity.

When it comes to alcoholic seizures, prevention is key. If you’re concerned about the risk of experiencing seizures due to alcohol consumption, taking proactive measures can make a significant difference. 

By implementing strategies to avoid alcoholic seizures, you can safeguard your well-being and reduce potential risks. Here we will share some effective methods and tips to help you stay seizure-free and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Creating A Safe And Healthy Environment

Establishing a supportive environment can go a long way in minimizing the risk of alcoholic seizures. Consider the following methods to create a safe space:

Seek Professional Guidance: Consult a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or addiction specialist, for personalised advice and support. They can help assess your specific situation and provide tailored recommendations [4].

Maintain Abstinence: Complete abstinence from alcohol is the most effective way to prevent alcoholic seizures. Avoiding alcohol altogether eliminates the risk of triggering seizures [2]. If you have a history of heavy alcohol use or seizures, abstaining from alcohol is highly recommended.

Supportive Network: Surround yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, or support groups who understand your goals and provide encouragement [3]. Having people who understand and respect your decision to abstain from alcohol can be a valuable source of support.

Remove Alcohol Triggers: Identify and remove any triggers that may tempt you to consume alcohol. This may involve avoiding environments or social situations where alcohol is prevalent, and ensuring your living space is free of alcohol [3]. Out of sight, out of mind!

Implementing Healthy Lifestyle Practices

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of seizures and support your overall well-being. Consider incorporating the following practices:

Prioritise Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies you enjoy. Taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial for minimizing seizure risks [3].

Ensure Proper Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients. Proper nutrition supports brain health and can contribute to overall seizure prevention [4]. Consult a healthcare professional for dietary guidance tailored to your specific needs.

Sufficient Sleep: Aim for regular, quality sleep to optimise your brain’s functioning and reduce the risk of seizures. Establish a consistent sleep routine and create a comfortable sleep environment to promote restful nights [4].

Avoid Triggers Beyond Alcohol: Certain substances, such as illicit drugs and certain medications, can increase the risk of seizures [4]. Be cautious and consult with healthcare professionals to understand potential interactions or risks associated with substances you may encounter.

Continued Care And Monitoring

Consistency and ongoing monitoring are crucial in preventing alcoholic seizures. Here are some methods to keep you on the right track:

Regular Medical Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with healthcare professionals specializing in addiction and seizure management [3]. These visits can help monitor your progress and ensure any potential issues are addressed promptly.

Medication Compliance: If you are prescribed anti-seizure medication, make sure to take it as prescribed and follow the recommended dosage [4]. Skipping doses or abruptly stopping medication can increase the risk of seizures.

Open Communication: Maintain open communication with your healthcare provider and support network. Report any concerns, changes in symptoms, or potential triggers promptly. Being proactive and seeking guidance can help prevent relapses and minimise seizure risks.

When it comes to addressing alcoholic seizures, seeking proper treatment is essential. Here we will explore various treatment approaches that can help in overcoming alcoholic seizures. 

Medical Interventions

Medical treatments play a significant role in managing alcoholic seizures. Here are some common approaches:

Anti-Seizure Medications: Anti-seizure medications, such as benzodiazepines or anticonvulsants, may be prescribed to help control seizures [2]. These medications work by stabilizing brain activity and reducing the likelihood of seizure occurrence.

Detoxification: For individuals with alcohol dependence, a medically supervised detoxification program may be recommended [5]. Detoxification involves safely removing alcohol from the body while managing withdrawal symptoms, including seizures. Medical professionals closely monitor the process to ensure safety and comfort.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): In certain cases, medication-assisted treatment may be utilised to address alcohol use disorder and reduce the risk of seizures. Medications such as naltrexone, acamprosate, or disulfiram may be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan [5]. These medications can help curb cravings, promote abstinence, and support long-term recovery.

Therapeutic Support

Therapeutic interventions are vital components of comprehensive treatment for alcoholic seizures. They address the underlying causes of alcohol misuse and aid in recovery. Here are a few therapeutic approaches:

Counselling and Therapy: Individual or group counselling sessions with qualified professionals can provide valuable support and guidance. Therapists can help individuals explore the reasons behind their alcohol use, develop coping strategies, and build resilience [3].

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a widely used therapeutic approach that helps individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with alcohol misuse. It equips individuals with the skills to manage triggers, stress, and cravings effectively [4].

Support Groups: Engaging in support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can provide a sense of community and understanding. These groups offer a supportive environment where individuals can share experiences, gain insights, and receive encouragement throughout their recovery journey [5].

Seeking medical attention is crucial. Recognizing when to see a doctor can help ensure proper evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. 

Let’s explore the signs that indicate the need for a doctor’s visit when alcohol and seizures are involved.

First-Time Seizure

If you or someone you know experiences a seizure for the first time, especially after consuming alcohol, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. A doctor can evaluate the situation, determine the underlying cause, and provide appropriate guidance.

Recurrent Seizures

If seizures related to alcohol consumption occur repeatedly, it is crucial to consult a doctor. Recurrent seizures can indicate a more serious condition that requires medical intervention.

Increasing Severity or Frequency

If the seizures become more severe or frequent over time, it is essential to see a doctor. Changes in the pattern of seizures may indicate the need for adjusted treatment or further evaluation.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, hallucinations, or intense cravings when attempting to reduce or stop alcohol consumption, it is essential to consult a doctor. These symptoms can be signs of alcohol dependence and may increase the risk of seizures.

Other Health Concerns

If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as liver disease, kidney dysfunction, or epilepsy, or if you take medications that may interact with alcohol, it is crucial to discuss your alcohol consumption and seizures with a healthcare professional.

Alcohol and seizures can be a dangerous combination, leading to potential risks and complications. If you or someone you know experiences seizures related to alcohol consumption, seeking medical attention is crucial. 

Remember, timely intervention and proper treatment can make a significant difference in managing and preventing alcoholic seizures. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals who can provide the necessary support, guidance, and treatment options tailored to your specific needs. By taking control of your health and making positive changes, you can pave the way toward a seizure-free life. 

Your well-being matters, and with the right approach, you can reclaim control and embrace a healthier, seizure-free future.

1. CNS drugs. Seizures in alcohol-dependent patients: epidemiology, pathophysiology, and management.

2. Medical News Today. Can alcohol trigger seizures?

3. Rehab Guide. Alcohol and Seizures.

4. Epilepsy Ontario. Alcohol and Seizures.

5. The Recovery Village. Can Alcohol (or Withdrawal) Cause a Seizure?


The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


a successful and proven concept focusing on underlying causes


0 Before

Send Admission Request

0 Before

Define Treatment Goals

1 week

Assessments & Detox

1-4 week

Psychological & Holistic Therapy

4 week

Family Therapy

5-8 week


12+ week

Refresher Visit

Alcohol Insights

latest news & research on Alcohol
Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic
Functioning Alcoholic - UK

When dealing with a functioning alcoholic, one must be very careful and avoid making any hasty decisions or judgments.

read more
Alcoholism And Personality Changes
Alcoholism And Personality Changes

While alcohol can affect everyone differently, certain patterns of personality change tend to emerge when people consume alcohol

read more


Somatic Experience
pro mesotherapie
institute de terapia neural
British Psychology Society


Woman & Home
National World
American Banker
Marie Claire
La Nacion
Metro UK
General Anzeiger
Live Science
Mallorca Magazin
Apartment Therapy
Express UK
Manager Magazin
Entrepreneur ME
Khaleej Times
The Times
The Standard
The Stylist
Mirror UK
Mallorca Zeitung
Daily Mail
Business Leader