The Importance of Preventing an Alcohol Withdrawal Seizure

The Importance of Preventing an Alcohol Withdrawal Seizure


Yes, it is very possible that you or someone you know who is detoxing might have an alcohol withdrawal seizure.  The first thing you need to understand is that you can have a seizure due to alcohol withdrawal even if you have never had a seizure before in your life.

I work in an alcohol detox unit and I see seizures happen from time to time.  They do not happen every day but they probably happen at least once a month.  What blows me away is how naive people are when it comes to the possibility.

I will go to give a detoxing alcoholic patient their medication for the day and they will say “What is this?”  And I’ll say “that is your medication.”

“For what?”

“It helps prevents seizures.”

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“Oh, I don’t need that.  I don’t have seizures.”

I hear this over and over again.  People think seizures are a lifelong condition like asthma or something.  Oh, I don’t need that inhaler, I don’t have asthma.  But saying that you don’t have seizures is just plain ignorant. Anyone can have a seizure.  Anyone who is detoxing from alcohol has an increased likelihood of having an seizure.  It’s not like everyone is going to have one or anything–don’t get me wrong.  But the chances are multiplied by the alcohol withdrawal.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: ToniProtto

Figure this in too: many of the people who have seizures due to alcohol withdrawal were taking strong medications to help prevent the seizures.  That is pretty serious when you think about it….that most of the seizures I see in the alcohol detox are from people who are already taking the proper medication to try and prevent the seizures.  So this is a very real threat that you need to take seriously, especially if you are detoxing at home and do not have the proper medication on hand (most people normally would not, as it is prescription only).

If your hands tend to shake whenever you go for too long without a drink, then you are probably a more likely candidate for someone who would have a seizure during alcohol withdrawal. The solution in this case is to try to go to treatment in order to stop drinking.  This is really the safest route you can go, because detoxing at home can lead to dangerous situations and decrease your chances of staying sober at all.  If you can get into a detox unit then you will be much safer and your odds of staying sober will increase.


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