What are some general facts about alcohol use and epilepsy?

Small amounts of alcohol do not cause seizures. Small amounts of alcohol do not affect the amount of epilepsy medicine in your blood or EEG readings. Alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures. Binge drinking and alcohol withdrawal lead to status epilepticus, which can kill you. Seizure medication makes you more susceptible to alcohol. You will get drunker and drunker faster. The chronic abuse of alcohol can lead to seizures. Thus, people who have had seizures caused by alcohol may start experiencing seizures unprovoked from alcohol use.

How do I safely drink alcohol as a person with epilepsy?

Avoid binge drinking. Don’t abuse alcohol. Use moderation when you drink. Make sure you only order a couple of drinks and drink them slowly. Talk to your doctor about your seizures, your health, and your alcohol consumption. Remember not to drive after alcohol because combined with the effects of your seizure medications your reflexes, awareness, and coordination will be heavily impacted.

Other Drugs

How does cocaine affect someone with epilepsy?

Cocaine, in any form, can cause a seizure after you have taken it, seconds, minutes, or hours. Seizures caused by cocaine are extremely dangerous and can cause heart attacks and death. Even people who do not have epilepsy have these seizures so people with epilepsy should definitely not take cocaine.

How do amphetamines affect a person with epilepsy?

These drugs stimulate the brain, and it seems that if taken under the instruction of a doctor they do not increase seizures. However, Amphetamine Drugs, like ecstasy, if abused can cause sleep deprivation, confusion, and even major psychiatric disorders. If you are confused or experiencing something like sleep deprivation, you can forget to take your meds which can cause seizures. High doses can also cause brain damage which can lead to severe tonic-clonic seizures, heart attacks, and death.

Is marijuana safe for someone with eplilepsy?

There have been studies done on THC (the ingredient which causes the high) and CBD (a non-active ingredient) in animals. The research revealed they can help with seizures as well as provoke them. Thus, more research is needed. However, if you stop marijuana suddenly seizures can occur. The side effects of marijuana are troubling.

What happens if a person with epilepsy takes heroin?

This is a drug derived from opium. Though the drug does not seem to directly affect seizures, one can forget to take their seizure medications while on it, leading to seizures. If you take large amounts of it, affecting the oxygen in your brain, then it can lead to seizures.

I love my coffee and cigarettes. Can I safely take those as a person with epilepsy?

If taken in normal amounts, these two drugs seem to not have an effect on seizures. The only reports of seizures with these drugs are for people who took an abnormal amount. Be aware: how much caffeine you are consuming because so many drinks, foods, medicines have it as an active ingredient. If caffeine is affecting your sleep it can also cause seizures. Be aware that if you lose consciousness while smoking then you could accidentally set something on fire.

Over-the-Counter Meds

Can over-the-counter meds cause seizures for someone with eplilepsy?

Yes, some can cause seizures, even if the person has never had a seizure. The ingredient most likely to cause seizures for the first time is diphenhydramine, which is the ingredient in cold medicines like Benadryl. Some over-the-counter meds lower the threshold for seizures, like cold medicines with the ingredient pseudoephedrine in them. Be aware: Even some meds like aspirin can change the level of medication in your blood and thus your seizure control. Important Note: Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter meds and herbal supplements!

What over-the-counter meds are safe for people with epilepsy?

Nasal sprays are safe. Runny nose meds with pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine seem to be safe. However, there have also been reports of seizures so talk to your doctor before taking this med. Acetaminophen seems to be the safest for aches. Aspirin seems to be okay, but do not give it to children.