Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the world and, as such, is one of the most highly abused substances, as well. In fact, in 2018 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 55.3% of people had reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days and that in the previous year 70% people reported drinking. Youth were also surveyed with nearly 30% reported already having an underage drink with nearly 19% of 12-20 year olds reported drinking in the past month. This means that over 7 million youth have reported drinking alcohol before 21. What’s key to remember is that, like all things, these numbers may not portray a full, accurate depiction of how many youth actually drank alcohol, as many who do will not report that they have. 

Although alcohol can cause serious health consequences, the unfortunate reality is that it is often portrayed as socially acceptable to drink. In fact, it is one of the most commonly advertised mind-altering substances in the world. As such, it is no wonder that many people drink as recreation or in order to fit in with others. However, drinking, in and of itself, can have serious health consequences and can even lead to an addiction. What can be even more alarming is that once someone is bonded to alcohol through the grips of addiction, withdrawing from long-term alcohol abuse can lead to a host of other serious health crises, such as delirium tremens, or seizures. 

In order to mitigate one’s chance of falling prey to alcoholism and it’s unfortunate effects, it is, therefore, vital that one learn the dangers of alcohol abuse, in particular the consequence of alcohol-related seizures, and how to get help for an addiction to alcohol. 

What are Alcohol-Related Seizures? 

Alcohol is a mind-altering substance and, as such, releases endorphins in the drinker’s brain. These endorphins spark the “feel-good” center of the brain resulting in the drinker being flooded with feelings of pleasure, happiness, or another reward-centered feeling. This process of endorphin “flooding” can create a dangerous cycle of abuse or addiction where the drinker seeks alcohol in order to achieve the effects of pleasure repeatedly. When alcohol is abused, the drinker is under risk of developing serious health conditions, some even leading to fatality. One serious health risk that can rise as a result of alcohol abuse is alcohol-related seizures. 

A seizure is caused by an electrical disturbance in the brain, causing mild to severe symptoms. Some common signs of a seizure may include: 

  • Temporary confusion 
  • Uncontrollable jerking of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • A staring spell
  • Cognitive or emotional side-effects like fear, anxiety, or deja vu

While it’s often thought that seizures create convulsions in the body (the body shaking quickly and uncontrollably), not every seizure causes this. While drinking alcohol can result in seizures, seizures are not typically induced when only small amounts of alcohol are ingested. In fact, it’s quite uncommon for someone who has a moderate amount of alcohol on occasion to experience a seizure.

On the other hand, alcohol-related seizures are often caused by alcohol withdrawal or binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined by the number of servings of alcohol a person consumes in a given 2-hour period. If someone consumes 4-5 servings of alcohol within this given 2 hour period, the person is binge drinking. Binge drinking is particularly dangerous because it can result in alcohol poisoning, which is caused by the body’s inability to detox the alcohol fast enough. This could lead to the body slowing down or malfunctioning, both of which can cause serious or fatal health conditions in the drinker.

The Dangers and Side Effects of Alcohol Seizures and Withdrawal

Binge drinking and alcohol withdrawal can even lead to status epilepticus, which is a serious, even life-threatening problem. Furthermore, studies have shown that alcoholism, or chronic alcohol abuse, is associated with the development of epilepsy in certain people. 

While binge drinking can certainly result in dangerous seizure episodes, seizure symptoms are most typically experienced during the period of time in which someone who chronically abuses alcohol withdrawals from the substance. When someone who is addicted to alcohol withdrawals they may experience intense, uncomfortable symptoms like: 

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nightmares
  • Tremors

Although some people will experience withdrawal symptoms for a fairly short amount of time, some people will have withdrawal side-effects for weeks or more. One side-effect that some people may experience, especially if they have been abusing alcohol and decide to stop drinking cold turkey, is delirium tremens. This is particularly dangerous, even fatal, causing symptoms like: 

  • Disturbances and changes in mental function and mood
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Deep sleep for a day or even more
  • Intense sensitivity to touch, sound, or light
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia, anxiety, irritability, agitation
  • Intense and sudden confusion

Seizures most typically occur between the 24-48 hour mark after the last drink. It is vital that if one experiences any of the previously mentioned symptoms that they seek medical professional help immediately.

What To Do if You Have Alcohol Seizures 

If you struggle with abusing alcohol or alcoholism, it is essential to your safety and well-being that you get the help you deserve and need, especially before it turns into a seizure or any of the other serious health conditions just mentioned. One of the safest and most effective ways to detox off alcohol and walk on the path to long-term sobriety is to attend an inpatient drug rehab. Inpatient rehabs are particularly helpful as they remove all outside distractions and temptations to return to alcohol abuse, especially during the early stages of detox when cravings can be the most intense. Furthermore, with 24/7 monitoring, one detoxing off alcohol can rest assured knowing that any health condition that may arise will be well cared for and attended to. 

Getting help now before it turns into something more serious or life-threatening is essential to your health and recovery. Reach out today if you struggle with alcohol abuse or addiction so that you can start walking on the path of fulfillment and recovery immediately.