Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it slows down nervous system activity in the brain. When that depressant is removed, you may feel a sudden lack of its rewarding effects, leading to nervousness, insomnia, and anxiety. 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.

Nevertheless, the 2015 United States Department of Veterans Affairs Practice Guideline recommended the drug for off-label use to treat moderate to severe cases of alcohol dependency. Researchers do not currently know exactly how topiramate works in alcohol use disorder cases. Nevertheless, the medication may effectively reduce cravings in people who are dependent on alcohol. Therefore, even seemingly non-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms require medical attention.

Don’t Abuse Alcohol

These patients, as well as a substantial number of other people who stop drinking without seeking professional treatment, experience alcohol withdrawal (AW). AW is a clinical syndrome that affects people accustomed to regular alcohol intake who either decrease their alcohol consumption or stop drinking completely. Consequently, when the alcohol level is suddenly why does alcohol withdrawal cause seizures lowered, the brain remains in a hyperactive, or hyperexcited, state, causing withdrawal syndrome. Alcohol withdrawal seizures occur when alcohol consumption is significantly reduced or cut off. Alcohol increases the levels of the chemical GABA, which reduces brain activity while decreasing the actions of glutamate and then excites the nervous system.

why does alcohol withdrawal cause seizures

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. Originally prescribed for epileptic seizures, topiramate may also help people who are alcohol-dependent to abstain from consuming alcohol. Topiramate has not received FDA approval for use in the treatment of alcohol use disorder.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal: Timeline and Signs of Danger

This process temporarily restores homeostasis, or chemical balance, in an effort to counteract the impact of long-term alcohol use on the brain. Additionally, if a seizure cannot be stopped or multiple seizures occur in rapid succession, it could result in permanent injury or prove fatal. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, seizures by themselves typically are not fatal. However, they may cause people to fall and sustain potentially serious injuries, such as head injuries. Alcohol seizures may share symptoms with seizures that are not linked to alcohol. Alcohol works in the brain by influencing a chemical called GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid.

why does alcohol withdrawal cause seizures

Residential treatment programs offer the advantage of removing the client from his or her everyday environment and triggers. The treatment center environment offers structured activities, security, and supervision that clients need to help them avoid relapse. People who are new to alcohol treatment are more likely to be referred to a residential treatment program. Figure ​Figure22 illustrates how to proceed in the clinical setting of suspected AWS to confirm the diagnosis and to start sufficient therapy. Read on to learn about the symptoms of AWS, as well as how it can be treated or prevented.

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