Can drug addiction cause seizures? This can be a difficult question to answer, as it depends on the type of substance and other environmental factors, but the good news is that the question can be answered. Drug addiction can lead to many serious health problems including seizures. In this blog post, we will discuss what type of drugs can cause a seizure and how you can tell if your loved one has a problem with drugs.

*Please note that the information on this blog post is general in nature and in no way should be taken as health advice, please consult a medical professional.

What drugs cause seizures when withdrawing?

Unfortunately, there is loads of conflicting information on the internet that creates fear around drug withdrawal. It is true that some substances can cause seizures during withdrawal-like alcohol and benzodiazepines, however with appropriate medical detoxification services all substances can be managed effectively.

Seizures can be caused directly by substance withdrawal, however, it can often be due to several other co-occurring poor health factors. This is again why it is important that you employ harm-minimisation strategies when using drugs and engage medical professionals in the withdrawal process.

The following are the main drugs that cause seizures when withdrawing.


Alcohol becomes dangerous in terms of seizures because alcohol gets into a person’s nervous system, and the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms progressively increases over years of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol affects ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors in the brain which in turn changes the chemical functioning that occurs in your brain and nervous system. Alcohol dependence is created through the repeated process of drinking alcohol causing recurrent effects to the brain. To deal with this, a person’s brain will adapt to these effects which scientists describe as a masking effect.

Seizures occur when a person stops drinking and these adaptive chemical processes stop, which scientists describe as an unmasking effect.

To read more about these chemical processes and what occurs in the brain, we recommend you check out Update on the Neurobiology of Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures” by Michael A Rogawski, MD, PhD.

Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc.)

For high dose or long-term benzodiazepine users, seizures can be a possible complication of withdrawal. It’s incredibly important if you are thinking about withdrawing from benzodiazepines, that you don’t do this cold turkey and you consult with a medical professional and seek assisted withdrawal support.

Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This effect causes your brain to become physically dependent on the substance over time. If you have been regularly taking benzodiazepines and suddenly stop, your brain will suddenly have much less GABA than it is used to. Low levels of GABA are linked with seizures which is why benzodiazepine withdrawal can cause seizures to occur.

Drug-induced seizure symptoms

Most drug‐induced seizures are experienced similarly to people that have epileptic seizures called generalized tonic‐clonic motor activity (grand mal). This comes with dangers and convulsive muscle activity, especially if for an extended period, can lead to hypoxia, hypercarbia, pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents, lactic acidosis, hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis. Febrile seizures can also be drug-induced which are similarly often experienced by young children with high temperatures.

For more information check out the paper, “Treatment of drug‐induced seizures”.

Non-convulsive status epilepticus can also occur as a result of exposure to certain drugs, for example, phenytoin or carbamazepine. These types of seizures can last from seconds to days and can cause serious neurological damage.

If you are worried that you may have had these seizures in the past or experienced symptoms, please contact a medical professional.

Here are some drug-induced seizure symptoms to look out for to prevent you from experiencing a seizure:

  • Shakiness
  • Digestive upset or loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression and irritability

Drug-induced seizure treatment

Look – if you are asking yourself the question, “can drug addiction cause seizures?”, then you are probably at the point in which you need to seek help.

We would encourage you to check out our programs and remember that Connection Based Living offers free consultation sessions in which we can help you discover the best way to support yourself or your loved one. To book a free consultation you can click the link below:

5 Horrifying Dodgy Practices You Must Know Before Checking Into Rehab.

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