Alcohol, Seizures, and Epilepsy

Authors

  • W. Allen Hauser,

    Corresponding author
    1. *Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York, U.S.A.
    2. †Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York, U.S.A.
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  • Stephen K. C. Ng,

    1. †Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York, U.S.A.
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  • John C. M. Brust

    1. *Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York, U.S.A.
    2. ‡Harlem Hospital Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York, U.S.A.
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Neurological Institute, 710 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, U.S.A.

Abstract

Summary: Seizures, epilepsy, and alcohol are complexly interrelated. Although it is commonly perceived that patients with epilepsy experience problems with seizure control if they use alcohol, this is not confirmed by the few experimental studies that have tested the hypothesis. The last 30 years have emphasized the role of withdrawal from alcohol as a mechanism of seizure production. However, this is but one of many potential mechanisms by which seizures and epilepsy may be related to alcohol use and abuse. The rare but clear situations in which alcohol can act as a convulsant drug need further study, and mechanisms by which the long-term neurotoxic effects of alcohol lead to chronic epilepsy also need further elucidation.

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