Do drugs cause seizures? Not certainly. However, specific drugs and medications can cause an adverse reaction that can result in epileptic seizures. The specific drugs associated with drug-induced seizures may vary globally and can also change over time. There are some common drugs that are most likely to cause seizures, if not taken under professional guidance.
Recurrent and prolonged seizures can lead to severe complications. Therefore, this condition requires supportive care and anticonvulsant drugs. In addition to this, it is important to understand which medications or drug overdose can lead to this condition. Are there any signs and symptoms of drug induced seizures? And so on.
The right knowledge helps you take the right steps at the right time. Therefore, in this blog, we will dive deeper into this topic to help you understand what epilepsy is, its causes, and the drugs that may cause seizures. In addition to this, we will also discuss what drugs cause seizures? So that you can take precautions before experiencing any symptoms of this condition.
Epilepsy and Drug-induced Seizures – What’s The Difference
Epilepsy and drug induced seizures are different yet interconnected phenomena, but both involve abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
Epilepsy refers to a chronic neurological disorder. It is characterized by recurrent and unprovoked seizures. It is one of the most common disorders associated with the nervous system. As we know the brain controls and regulates all involuntary and voluntary movements or responses in the body. It consists of the nerve cells that are connected and communicate with each other through electrical activity.
If the brain receives a burst of electrical signals abnormally, it temporarily interrupts the normal electrical functioning of the brain. This leads to seizures. But, can drugs cause epilepsy? Let’s discuss this in the following sections.
This type of seizure occurs as a result of exposure to certain drugs or substances. It can include both prescription medications, as well as illicit drugs. Seizures from drugs are triggered by the presence of that specific drug in the individual’s body. However, it is not necessary that each individual who uses these substances would experience seizures. But people with certain conditions and risk factors, are more likely to suffer from seizures due to drugs.
Some drugs directly affect the electrical activity of the brain, while others can increase the risk of seizures by causing metabolic imbalances. However, not all drugs cause seizures, but can overdose cause seizures? Yes. Overdose of certain medications like antidepressants or illicit substances can cause seizures.
Who is more susceptible to drug-induced seizures?
People with a history of neurological disease are more likely to get seizures from drugs. Apart from them, elderly people are also susceptible to the side effects of certain medications. However, the impact of medications can vary significantly from person to person. Let’s discuss a few of the key factors that contribute to susceptibility to drug-induced seizures: –
Personal Medical History
People with a history of seizures are usually more susceptible to drug-induced seizures. The presence of neurological conditions increases the risk.
Underlying Medical Conditions
People with certain medical conditions, especially those that affect the central nervous system are more vulnerable. This includes people with brain tumors, infections in the central nervous system, or brain injuries.
Do drugs cause seizures or not, also depends on the genetics of the individual. Some people may have genetic variations that make them more prone to seizures triggered by specific medications.
Dose and Duration
Dosage and duration of the drug usage is other critical factor. Prolonged and high doses of certain medications can lower the seizure threshold and increase the risk of seizures.
Combining multiple substances that affect the central nervous system can also increase the risk of seizures. It can include both prescription medications and illicit drugs.
Variability in drug metabolism from person to person can also affect susceptibility. Factors like liver function and enzyme activity can influence how the body processes and clears drugs.
Interactions with Other Medications
Drug interactions can also increase the risk of drug induced seizures. If you combine drugs that affect the nervous system it can be risky. Therefore, one should avoid mixing medications on their own. Always connect with your healthcare providers to consider the potential effects of the drugs.
How Do Drugs and Substances Cause Seizures?
Drug-induced seizures are a complex and multifaceted issue. There are various substances and medications that are capable of triggering seizures under specific circumstances. However, the effects of these recreational drugs may vary greatly. Sometimes, they may directly affect the brain or they can interact with the seizure medications the person is already consuming.
Let’s discuss how and when alcohol and drugs can cause seizures from different types of usage: –
Seizures Due To Prescribed Medications
All drug induced seizures are not necessarily associated with the usage of the recreational drugs. Moreover, the increasing number of prescriptions the average American takes, shows that senior citizens are at a higher risk of seizures as a side effect of the combination of medications they take.
Here it is important to note how crucial it is to be aware of the drugs you decide to put into your system. A wrong combination of medications can lead to severe circumstances. Therefore, you should never take any medicine if it is not prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Recreational Drugs and Seizures
Sometimes, people are unaware of the underlying neurological disorders they may have. Recreational drugs can trigger or activate these disorders. For instance, cocaine has the ability to lower the seizure threshold for people suffering from epilepsy. Therefore, people who have never had a seizure before may experience it if they put cocaine in their system. Apart from cocaine, heroin and a spice called K2 (also known as synthetic marijuana, synthetic weed, fake weed, or mojo drug) can potentially cause seizures and strokes.
Seizures Due To Drug Overdose
Can overdose cause seizures? Too much substance use is a risk factor for seizures. Stimulants, like cocaine, amphetamines, and various prescription medications medicines can also cause seizures.
According to the NCBI, Antidepressants, tramadol, diphenhydramine, and isoniazid have the potential of causing or triggering seizures.
Seizures From Addiction Withdrawal
The brain of a person who has been drinking alcohol for a prolonged period to keep their domain levels elevated stops producing dopamine naturally. Alcohol molecules bind to GABA receptors that are responsible for sparking the production of dopamine. When the person stops drinking alcohol, the chemical balance in his/her brain is altered drastically. This leads to severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures.
Apart from alcohol, Benzodiazepines also affect the brain. These depressant medications are used in the treatment of seizure disorders. They are used to slow down the electrical impulses in the brain. When the person stops using these drugs, the brain does not know how to respond and the natural electrical system of the brain goes out of balance. This can cause seizures.
Seizures From Marijuana
According to Epilepsy Foundation, studies in animals suggest that THC – tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient in marijuana), and CBD, a substance in marijuana, can help seizures as well as trigger them. However, enough information is not available about which and how much of the ingredient can help or harm people with seizures.
Marijuana also has many side effects and stopping its intake suddenly after using it for too long, increases the risk of seizures.
Seizures From Heroin
Heroin and other related narcotics are derived from opium. Although these drugs do not affect the possibility of seizures in an individual with epilepsy, taking large amounts of these narcotics can cause a severe lack of oxygen to the brain. This can lead to seizures.
List of Drugs That Can Cause Seizures
As we have discussed, drug abuse or misuse of a drug can affect people differently. However, there are a variety of medications that are more likely to have side effects on the brain or central nervous system. Here, we have given a list of drugs that can cause seizures: –
Research also indicates long-lasting damage to the brain due to some types of stimulants. One such stimulant is amphetamines. It has the potential to cause severe tonic-clonic seizures, heart attacks, and death.
This is an illegal drug that sends your body into overdrive. Federal drug data which was exclusively provided to NPR shows that seizures of meth have spiked drastically.
MDMA is an illegal synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant to the nervous system. A high dosage of MDMA can cause hallucinations, seizures, vomiting, and floating sensations.
Opioids can lower the seizure threshold. Moreover, taking large amounts of narcotics can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain which can cause seizures.
According to a study conducted in 2020, researchers found that individuals taking a commercial CBD product had a 70% increase in seizures. However, the group of patients who were taking prescription CBD had a 39% reduction.
Constantly high doses of caffeine can be a trigger to epilepsy. It can increase the seizure susceptibility.
As per the NCBI, in a study on seizures caused by e-cigarettes, researchers found that 62% of people reported seizures within 30 minutes of vaping. It suggests that seizures can be caused by nicotine.
What are the warning signs of Seizures?
Seizures from drugs can be triggered differently in different people. However, there are a few common signs of seizures a person may exhibit: –
- Losing consciousness
- Frequent muscle spasms
- Staring off into space
- Excessive and rapid blinking
- Experiencing a strange smell or taste
- Inability to respond to stimuli for several minutes
- Crying out
- Appearing confused
- Nodding the head rhythmically
- Stiffening of the body
- Experiencing difficulty in breathing
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
So, do drugs cause seizures? We hope that after going through the topics discussed above, you can understand the potential risks and effects of certain medications. It is crucial to connect with a healthcare professional before taking any drugs or medications. We also mentioned the common symptoms of seizures. If you or your loved one experiences any of those symptoms, get in touch with your doctor immediately.