What Is an Alcoholic Seizure?

Alcoholic seizures typically include convulsions and blackouts.
Alcoholics who do not have constant access to alcohol may experience withdrawal seizures.
When an individual experiences an alcohol seizure, medical attention is required.
Binge drinking can lead to an alcoholic seizure.
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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2014
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Seizures, a disruption in the way the brain normally works because of central nervous system (CNS) hyperactivity, can be caused by many different things, including alcohol. An alcoholic seizure generally results from the misuse or abuse of alcohol. In rare instances, an allergic reaction to alcohol may also cause a person to have a seizure.

The CNS of the body normally has different neurons firing at various times, and is responsible for relaying messages to the brain. When a seizure is induced, whether it be due to a condition or due to alcohol or drug abuse, all of the neurons in one area fire at one time, causing the seizure. The brain becomes confused, as it receives the wrong messages from the rest of the body or no messages at all.

Binge drinking — which is when a person drinks a lot of alcohol in a short period of time — can lead to an alcoholic seizure. Generally alcohol poisoning also occurs, and this can result in irregular breathing, vomiting, confusion, paleness, seizures, and even death. When an alcoholic seizure that is related to alcohol poisoning occurs, a person will experience convulsions, stiffness, blackouts, and will sometimes not be able to control his bladder or bowels.


Alcoholic allergies can, at times, lead to seizures. Most of the time, an intolerance to alcohol only produces mild symptoms, like nausea, headaches, heartburn, facial flushing, a stuffy nose, or a rapid heart beat. In severe cases, though, some people may experience more intense reactions, including an alcoholic seizure due to the allergy to ethanol or alcohol. Many times, these types of seizures have the same symptoms as one due to alcohol poisoning. A person with a history of allergy might also experience typical allergic reactions, such as rashes or swelling.

Although an alcoholic seizure is often confused with a seizure due to alcohol withdrawal, the two types are different. Regular alcohol-related seizures are induced by the consumption of alcohol, while withdrawal seizures, often referred to as rum fits, are brought on by the cessation of alcohol consumption. These types of seizures generally occur when a person stops drinking after having consumed alcohol regularly, for a long time. Some of the symptoms that occur with withdrawal seizures may be similar to those that occur with other alcohol related seizures, and can include nausea, rapid heart rate, anxiety, and hallucinations.

Alcohol poisoning can lead to death, so immediate medical action is required in such cases. For those with alcohol allergies, any facial swelling can lead to trouble breathing and may cause a person’s throat to swell shut, so emergency care should be sought. Since all seizures are serious, any that occur require a doctor's care, including those that are caused by drinking too much or too little alcohol.


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Post 3

I had a rum fit seizure six months back. I stopped drinking after that. Can I start drinking moderately?

Post 2

I believe your wife may alcoholic. Look up the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) hotline for your wife to call should she wish to recover from the effects of drinking.

I belong to an anonymous group called Al Anon. Our primary purpose is to help people (family and friends) who have been affected by someone else's drinking. We are online and in the phone book.

I will pray for you and your family. Blessings.

Post 1

My wife consumed mass amounts of alcohol (gin and tonic) for many years. For the past five or six years it has been about a quart a day. She began having seizures when she would stop drinking for a day about five years ago. Since then she has had a total of 11 seizures including four in the past six months.

She has put the gin down and averages about six beers and four glasses of wine per week. She had a seizure on Monday and Tuesday after having a couple of beers. Can she not drink at all?

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