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Can Drugs Cause Seizures? Signs & Causes

Today we'll explore the relationship between drug addiction and seizures.

March 19, 2023

Can Drugs Cause Seizures?

Seizures are a common neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.

Can Drugs Cause Seizures?

They can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain injury, and certain medications. In this article, we will explore the relationship between drugs and seizures.

What are seizures?

Seizures are a sudden and uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain that can cause changes in behavior, movements, and consciousness.

They can range from mild to severe and can occur in anyone at any age. Seizures can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as epilepsy, or can be triggered by external factors, such as drugs.

Can drugs cause seizures?

Yes, drugs can cause seizures. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and some antibiotics, can lower the seizure threshold and increase the risk of seizures.

Other drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines, and ecstasy, can directly trigger seizures by causing abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

The risk of seizures varies depending on the type of drug, the dose, and the individual's medical history.

People with a history of seizures or epilepsy are at a higher risk of experiencing drug-induced seizures. Additionally, combining drugs or taking them in high doses can increase the risk of seizures.

Symptoms of Drug-Induced Seizures

The symptoms of drug-induced seizures can vary depending on the severity and duration of the seizure. Some common symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle spasms or convulsions
  • Jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Memory loss or temporary amnesia
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms after taking medication or using drugs, seek medical attention immediately.

Drug-Induced Seizures Prevention

The best way to prevent drug-induced seizures is to avoid drugs that can trigger seizures. If you are taking medication, talk to your doctor about the potential side effects and risks of seizures. Follow the recommended dosage and do not combine medications without consulting your doctor.

If you have a history of seizures or epilepsy, it is important to inform your doctor before taking any medication or using drugs. Your doctor may recommend alternative medications or adjust the dosage to reduce the risk of seizures.

Impact of Drug-Induced Seizures On Mental Health

Drug-induced seizures can have a significant impact on a person's mental health and well-being. The experience of having a seizure can be traumatic and may lead to feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression. These emotions can be particularly intense for individuals who have never had a seizure before or those who have experienced other types of trauma.

In some cases, drug-induced seizures can also lead to long-term changes in mood and behavior. For example, some people may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the seizure experience.

This condition can cause symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance behaviors, and hyperarousal.

Additionally, the medications used to treat seizures can also have an impact on mental health. Some anti-seizure medications can cause side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, irritability, or even suicidal thoughts. These side effects can further exacerbate existing mental health conditions or create new ones altogether.

It is important for individuals who have experienced drug-induced seizures to seek support from healthcare professionals and loved ones.

Counseling or therapy may be helpful in addressing any psychological distress caused by the seizure experience. Additionally, it is crucial for individuals taking medication to manage their mental health by reporting any concerning symptoms to their doctor right away.

What Drugs Might Cause A Seizure?

There are many drugs that have been reported to cause seizures, including some prescription medications and illegal substances.

For instance, antidepressants like bupropion and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine and sertraline have been known to lower the seizure threshold in some individuals.

In addition, antipsychotics like clozapine and olanzapine may also increase the risk of seizures.

Illegal drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and ecstasy can also trigger seizures by affecting the brain's electrical activity.

These drugs can cause abnormal changes in the levels of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain. When these levels are disrupted, it can lead to an uncontrolled burst of electrical activity that results in a seizure.

It is important to note that not everyone who takes these drugs will experience a seizure.

However, if you have a history of seizures or epilepsy, it is best to avoid these substances altogether as they can significantly increase your risk of having a seizure. If you are taking medication or using any drugs and experience symptoms such as convulsions or loss of consciousness, seek medical attention right away.

How Drug Abuse & Misuse Can Lead to Epilepsy

Drug abuse and misuse can lead to epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. While epilepsy can have various causes, drug abuse and addiction are among the leading factors that contribute to this condition.

The use of drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids has been linked to an increased risk of developing epilepsy.

These drugs can damage the brain's structures and circuits responsible for regulating electrical activity, which can lead to seizures.

Additionally, many people who abuse drugs or struggle with addiction may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit or reduce their drug use. Withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, especially in individuals who have a history of seizures or epilepsy.

Furthermore, substance abuse can also exacerbate pre-existing epilepsy or increase the frequency and severity of seizures in individuals with this condition. This is because drugs can interfere with the effectiveness of antiepileptic medications used to manage seizures.

Overall, drug abuse and misuse pose significant risks for developing epilepsy and worsening its symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial for people struggling with addiction or substance abuse disorders to seek professional help as soon as possible to prevent further harm to their health.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, drugs can cause seizures, and the risk varies depending on the type of drug, the dose, and the individual's medical history. If you experience any symptoms of a seizure after taking medication or using drugs, seek medical attention immediately. Always talk to your doctor before taking any medication or using drugs, especially if you have a history of seizures or epilepsy.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4767205/
  2. https://www.epilepsy.com/what-is-epilepsy/seizure-triggers/drug-abuse
  3. https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/seizures-substance-use/
  4. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/common-causes-of-drug-induced-seizures
  5. https://fherehab.com/learning/can-drug-seizures-kill-you/
  6. https://n.neurology.org/content/39/8/1037
Dr. Elizabeth Drew
Medical Director

Medical Director Dr. Elizabeth Drew graduated from Hahnemann University School of Medicine and completed her family practice residency at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown PA. In 2005, she opened her family medicine office in Doylestown, and in 2008 she treated her first patient for opiate addiction.

Since then Dr. Drew has attained her board certification in Addiction Medicine, treated more than a thousand patients for addiction to opiates and alcohol, participated in programs to educate the community, traveled to Washington DC to educate our legislators, and served as Medical Director at some of the best addiction treatment programs in Pennsylvania.

She understands that addiction is a chronic disease that no one would choose to have, and her treatment philosophy is based on respect, compassion, and empowerment. She is excited to be the Medical Director of MPower Wellness and work to provide superior addiction treatment in Chester County.

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