Alcohol-related Seizures

Alcohol-related Seizures
Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to complications in the brain. Learn about how heavy alcohol consumption can cause seizures and what delirium tremens is when experiencing alcohol withdrawals.

After years of alcohol abuse, seizures become a severe and life-threatening experience when withdrawing from alcohol. Having one drink with dinner or even a couple drinks on the weekends doesn’t normally increase the risk of seizures. However, individuals who drink heavily every day are at risk of experiencing brain damage when they suddenly stop drinking.

What Are Seizures?

When someone has a seizure, there is a burst of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. This burst of uncontrollable activity causes temporary abnormalities like stiffness, twitching, muscle spasms, and cognitive impairments. Depending on the type of seizure, length of time the seizure lasts, long-term and short-term effects to daily routine, and normal brain function can vary from person to person. Convulsions – when the body shakes quickly and uncontrollably – can help others identify when the person needs help. Not all seizures cause the body to display that it is experiencing a seizure.

Knowing the difference between the three types of seizures could help someone:

Generalized Seizures: Affect all areas of the brain with common symptoms of staring off into space without cognitive response to stimuli, and/or rapid eye movement or blinking quickly.

Focal Seizures: This type of seizure is also called a partial seizure because it tends to only affect one side of the brain. This often happens when someone experiences head trauma or head injury. This type of seizure can leave a long-term effect on the body like twitching, changes in sensations like smelling or taste, confusion or memory impairment, and/or lack of responsiveness.

Tonic-clonic (or grand mal) Seizures: These seizures are the most common seizure type involving alcohol withdrawal and are easily identified due to convulsions, falling to the ground due to muscle contractions, loss of consciousness, and/or loss of bladder control.

Can Alcohol Trigger a Seizure?

When alcohol abuse and binge drinking become more frequent in your daily routine, there is an increased risk in having a seizure when you suddenly stop drinking. However, many people experience alcohol withdrawal without seizures as they might be classified as a light drinker or a binge drinker.

Occasional drinker aka light drinkers or social drinkers: Small amounts of alcohol do not typically cause seizures. Consuming 1-3 drinks in one week may not cause a seizure, however, the feeling of being ‘hung-over’ is likely. Feeling ‘hung-over’ is the body withdrawing from the absence of alcohol.

Binge drinking or heavy drinker: This classification of alcohol abuse infers that the frequency of consuming alcoholic beverages has increased and the amount of alcohol consumed has resulted in extreme cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment can include:

  • Blacking out or becoming unconscious.
  • Speech impairment.
  • Decrease in pain reception or response time to stimulus.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors or experiencing abnormal personality characteristics.

Alcohol withdrawal can be considered mild or severe depending on the amount consumed during the drinking episode.

Alcoholism: Key indicators of alcoholism involve everyday consumption of alcoholic beverages and the type of alcohol consumed. The body becomes dependent on the daily consumption of alcohol in order to function. The person avoids the alcohol withdrawal affect by drinking more alcohol maintaining an elevated blood-to-alcohol ratio in the body.

Alcohol-related Seizures

For those who are struggling with alcoholism, alcohol-related seizures appear 6-48 hours after the last drink. More than 90 percent of alcohol withdrawal seizures occur within 48 hours after the person stops drinking. Clinical data suggest that the likelihood of having withdrawal seizures, as well as the severity of those seizures, increases with the number of past withdrawals and continued abuse of alcohol.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal occurs as little as 6 hours after the person stops drinking alcohol. Symptoms of withdrawal can be mild to severe and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Shakiness
  • Memory impairment
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Motion sickness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Clammy skin
  • Muscle ache
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Alcohol withdrawal severity can vary depending on quantity of alcohol consumed, frequency of consumption, and the body’s alcohol tolerance. Those who are interested in quitting alcohol, medical supervision is recommended to avoid seizures and Delirium Tremens aka DT’s.

The Severity of Delirium Tremens

For alcoholics, a severe complication of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens. Delirium tremens (DT’s) is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal after consistent prolonged alcohol abuse.

Symptoms may include:

  • Delirium (sudden confusion)
  • Body tremors
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Deep sleep for longer than one day
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness or fatigue
  • Seizures

The mortality rate among those who experience DT’s is 5 to 25 percent due to the organ systems failing. When alcohol is consumed regularly, the body learns to cope or adapt to the alcohol in the blood and how each organ system functions on high alcohol-to-blood ratio. Given enough time, the body becomes alcohol dependent. The sudden imbalance the body experiences when the alcohol-to-blood ratio is low is the catalyst for a seizure.

Alcohol dependence is often a sign of alcoholism or having an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and may increase the chances of having an alcohol-related seizure. Alcohol Dependence occurs when your brain has adapted to the presence of alcohol and alters its normal brain chemistry to the elevated alcohol levels of the body. Months, years, and decades of consistent alcohol abuse are needed to the point of addiction. As the alcohol is filtered out of the body, the chemical imbalance causes alcohol withdrawal influencing the risk of a seizure.

Alcohol addiction involves a compulsive physical and mental need to obtain the substance regardless of well-being in avoidance of the withdrawal process. Compulsive abuse despite negative ramifications of the alcohol to the body is why addiction and dependency need to be treated at medical facilities like hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

To be diagnosed with AUD, a person must meet at least two of the criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and medical treatment is needed if alcohol withdrawal symptoms cause seizures and Delirium tremens. These facilities often administer lifesaving medication like anti-seizure medication to prevent further damage to the body if the person is experiencing an alcohol-related seizure.

How do I know if I am an alcoholic and will I get seizures from alcohol withdrawal?

To determine whether or not you are an alcoholic depends on the body’s dependency to alcohol.

The more often a person drinks alcoholic beverages and the amount consumed will depict the increased risk of having a seizure when the body is withdrawing from the substance. Drinking alcohol every day till intoxication and cognitive impairment increases alcohol-related seizures.

Having a history of continued abuse of alcohol can help determine dependency.

Avoiding regular meals or refusing to drink water because it affects the feeling of inebriation is a sign of alcoholism.

Consuming alcoholic beverages with a high alcohol content all-day is another behavior commonly associated with an alcohol abuse disorder.

Consider seeking medical help during the withdrawal process when making the decision to stop drinking.

Preventing Alcohol-related Seizures by Getting Help for Alcoholism

If you think you a history of abusing alcohol or have experienced an alcohol-induced seizure, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Many people do not seek help because they fear the withdrawal process. Understand that rehabilitation centers control symptoms of withdrawal to protect the body from long-term damage.

Detox to Rehab provides you with the knowledge to achieve sobriety and connects you with professionals that help you recover from alcohol use disorder.

Scientific studies have shown that an increase in quality of life and improvement in health significantly improves when a person receives treatment for alcoholism. The risk of having an alcohol-related seizure when you no longer consume alcohol significantly decreases.


  1. In-depth compilation this is I must confess. No one has to read this and still decide to go on with binge drinking. These seizures are life threatening and the end stage may result in death. A word is enough for the wise truly.

  2. Seizures aid the malfunctioning of the brain. It affects other parts of the body because brain controls other body parts.

  3. Seizures kill if not treated adequately. I plead to everyone in the name of God to avoid alcohol because not everyone that suffer seizure come back alive.

  4. Detox to rehab should endeavour to take the campaign and sensitisation beyond the internet. Make it community to community. May God continue to strengthen the organisation.

  5. These are rarely talked about we always focused on drug addicts but we rarely talk about alcoholics. With that said this deserves as much if bot more attention as well. After all for me it is the second type of addiction next to drugs that is,

  6. This is serious..I never knew that alcohol abuse and binge drinking can cause seizures if the person suddenly go cold turkey. A lot of people need to read this. Thanks a lot for sharing it..I drink alcohol though but I’m an occasional drinker and I’m not addicted to it..this article is really an eye opener

  7. Very educative article. Teaching others the effect of alcohol is a beautiful thing to read. Thanks for educating both the young and old ones.

  8. This article is so much needed. It is informative, and also well detailed. I never knew that there was anything called alcohol related seizures. It is cool that this article has really explain in detail the effect of been an alcoholic. And also I’m now we’ll informed on this issue.

  9. The Effect of excessive intake of alcohol has a lot of damage to the body system. Awareness on this should be passed across to Every one.

  10. individuals who drink heavily every day are at risk of experiencing brain damage when they suddenly stop drinking. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  11. Thanks alot for taking your time to analyse everything concerning Alcohol seizures and withdrawal. It has its own implications very indulge in Alcohol, even after withdrawal the symptoms still show.

  12. I am just hearing this don’t know that too much intake of alcohol causes seizures. Being sober reduces it to the nearest minimum. Detox to rehab thanks for this insight, it was really helpful, being sober is the key.

  13. This is really alarming. This had been studied but looks like it is now proven that seizures can be triggered either by alcohol intake or alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol consumption must be lowered immediately.

  14. Thank you Detax to rehab for sharing these type of stories with all of us.These stories are really very much inspirational for many people who are addicted with something.

  15. An educative piece, this is why we need to avoid been addicted to drinks it will bring seizures which isn’t good for the body. Let’s avoid it as we can

  16. Individuals who drinks beyond control should just be careful. This is to prevent the possible incurable sickness it can cause.
    Thank you for sharing this educative content.

  17. Seizure is one of the terrible causes of alcoholism. They’re other related alcohol seizure. But individual should just be careful.

  18. A comprehensive article on how alcohol can bring about seizures. Take alcohol in small dozes if you would have to drink to avoid seizures.

  19. When one is a chronic alcohol consumer, there is no way he or she won’t experience this seizure. This is a good information from detox to rehab, thank you so much.

  20. Whatever that can affect one’s brain can adversely affect one’s life. The motor that controls our lives is in our brain.

  21. Alcohol does more harm than good to the body. Many people do not realize this yet. Many can’t do without taking alcohol in a day. May God deliver them .

  22. Alcoholic seizure leads to brain burst. Brain burst damages Brian. This is informative and educative. Thank you.

  23. One thing I like about your write-up is that you’re very correct in the explanation of each concept. The article is very informative and

  24. Alcohol has never done any good thing in the body. It does harm than good. I wonder why people drink it and even become addicted.

  25. By every standard, strict disciplines and measures should be exercised in the consumption of alcohol, in order to curb the propensity of heavy drinking and the attendant withdrawal effects like seizures.

  26. If alcohol related seizures,why still many people consumed that?I hope by this article everyone can know more about this,and decrease their habits for binge drinking

  27. The key is to simply never consume alcohol. Once you do that, you greatly reduce your chances of getting an alcohol related seizure.

  28. Even this added to the list of alcohol caused illness. I think heavy drinkers needs to get their eyes on this post. This is really helpful, thanks

  29. People who drink alcohol regularly have a higher chances of experiencing some sort of brain damage. Alcohol affects your brain and learning capabilities and this is why it should be avoid. Many studies have suggested clear link between alcohol consumption and cognition decline.

  30. These traumatic seizures give more reason to seek help for alcoholism and to not be susceptible to withdrawal. Important reminder that there is help out there and what the common symptoms are to look out for.

  31. An addiction is something that should be avoided at all cost. It is very dangerous in one’s life. It affects a lot of daily activities. There are many who are suffering and pray that they get sober.

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