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Keywords:

  • amphetamines;
  • cocaine;
  • epidemiology;
  • epilepsy;
  • epileptic seizures;
  • illicit drugs;
  • marijuana

Background and purpose

This study aimed to assess the prevalence of illicit drug use among epilepsy patients and its effects on the disease.

Methods

We systematically interviewed epilepsy outpatients at a tertiary epilepsy clinic. Predictors for active cannabis use were analysed with a logistic regression model.

Results

Overall, 310 subjects were enrolled; 63 (20.3%) reported consuming cannabis after epilepsy was diagnosed, and 16 (5.2%) used other illicit drugs. Active cannabis use was predicted by sex (male) [odds ratio (OR) 5.342, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.416–20.153] and age (OR 0.956, 95% CI 0.919–0.994). Cannabis consumption mostly did not affect epilepsy (84.1%). Seizure worsening was observed with frequent illicit (non-cannabis) drug use in 80% of cases.

Conclusions

Cannabis use does not seem to affect epilepsy; however, frequent use of other drugs increases seizure risk.