Community Forum

Alcohol hangover and medication

Hi. I have had two grand mal seizures in my life. One when I was 18 and another, a year ago, when I was 22.  Now I am 23. Both of these seizures happened after a night of very heavy drinking. Those two times were the worst hangovers I have ever suffered in my life. After the first one when I was 18, I had an EEG done and it showed no abnormalities. I continued partying and drinking heavily on the weekends for over four years and nothing bad happened until last year when I had my second seizure. I had an EEG done again and this time it showed abnormalities. My doctor sayd that i should go on medication. But i refused and told her that we should see what happens in the next months. Now almost a year has passed and I have had no seizures. I do not consider myself an epileptic. Rather a low seizure threshold maybe? For a long time I did not drink a drop of alcohol, but during the last few months I have started to drink again... I have tried to avoid hangovers by drinking a lot of water and taking magnesium and multivitamins and getting a good long sleep after drinking alcohol. But still, even when I feel almost no hangover the next day, I still take xanax or diazepam a couple of times during the day but they work like tranquillizers and make me feel very sleepy and tired for the whole day. My question is: what AED would be good for me to take during the next day after drinking? What would be a good choice to take for just one day since i don't need medication normally, I am not having any seizures. But for the hangovers... I need some drug to make me feel safe. I know... i probably shoud not drink, but with my personality, the neuroticism and anxiety, I sometimes NEED to get drunk on a weekend...

So, what drug would you recommend for that kind of occasional use? I have been doing some reading and it seems that pregabalin would be good to raise GABA levels in the brain after drinking. I am quite sure that hangover seizures are a result of low GABA levels after drinking (that is why I take xanax or diazepam, to raise my gaba levels, to feel safe and not be afraid of a seizure).

English is not my native language, I hope everything I wrote is understandable.


Darlin', the best thing you can do for yourself is to stop drinking any alcohol at all.


Alcohol damages the brain.  Add it to daily drug intake and you're self-destructing, like C-3P0 short circuiting.

 Shit. Xanaz and diazepam.  Get help, Darlin'. Get help.  You will do SO MUCH BETTER when you get off that shit.

 Wishing you the best!

 from the Heart of Texas

Seems like I didn't express myself clearly. I am not "on diazepam". I only take xanax or diazepam a couple of times a month, the day after drinking to raise GABA levels in my brain so I could feel safe and not be afraid of a seizure. My question was: what kind of an antiepileptic drug would be good for such occasional use? My guess was maybe pregabalin? I would be very thankful if someone would give me a good suggestion.

What I hear you saying is that you are always afraid of seizures , particulary when drinking, so you try and control a possible seizure after drinking by doing more drugs. Why do you drink in the first place, you say neurotic..what is that, it is an old catch all label for something that is not recognized in the medical field today. So it is probably at term that is a catch all in the public sector. Sounds like an excuse to drink, there are other ways to lessen your "neurotic" smptoms that are used as a reson to drink. There is no magic drug like you want and the alcohol is more destructive and addictive, than more simplistic ways to treat anxiety or fear as it is really called.  Your dealing with what will or will not make you in the future.  Rely on Neurologist not your biased, irrational thinking., as all of your drugs are addictive.  Ask someone who has comes off of diazepam after years of use.... not a pretty sight or experience.   Fix your anxiety response

It sounds like you are using Xanax or Diazepam recreationally almost. To take a drug that powerful and mix it with alcohol, no matter how long it's been since you've drank, is a death sentence. It truly is.

I won't say that I don't drink because I do. However a glass of wine with dinner or a drink with friends doesn't make me afraid of a seizure in the morning. I've learned that heavy drinking is never good. Alcohol is also a depressant or tranquilizer.

How do you get Xanax or Diazepam? It's not like they're an over the counter drug. You need a prescription for that stuff. Self diagnosing is never good so talk to your doctor. Or try, please try to lower your alcohol intake.

I take xanax the next day AFTER drinking, when I have a hangover, not when I am drunk. I take it to calm down my brain and raise GABA levels, to avoid seizures. But I dont like taking it because it makes me tired and sleepy. So I am looking for some other options to calm my brain chemistry after drinking. I was thinking about gabapentin. Gabapentin kind of seems the right kind of thing for this. And I am getting xanax with a prescription from a doctor. And I am not self diagnosing either. I am just trying to be safe, I want to avoid hangover seizures. I know that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and that one should not mix two or more different depressants because it could be dangerous. Also, I am not drinking a lot, not even every week. It's just that I sometimes want to get drunk on a friday and need some gabaergic drug for safety during the next day.

Hey there.

I hate to break it to you, but seizures are a well-known side effect of Xanax in some people (it's listed on any drugs information page for Xanax side effects). So you're not necessarily helping yourself out by taking Xanax to "neutralize" your hangovers. 

Also, if you have epileptiform spikes and such on your EEG, I wouldn't be surprised if you have "partial seizures" more than you realize. I did so for years (without knowing what they were; i just thought I was losing my marbles) before I finally had a grand mal seizure and got diagnosed.

Look up the symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and see if they sound familiar to you. Sometimes TLE auras and partial seizures are experienced as fear or anxiety...It could be that if you lay off the anti anxiety junk and treat your epilepsy instead, that might solve your problems.  Give yourself time to adjust to the drugs; increase the dose gradually  and make sure your doctor knows you're concerned about side effects.

Good luck!


I completely understand where you are coming from.  I am 28 years old and I like to go have a good time.  I don't drink every weekend but I like to go out and party which includes getting drunk.  I find that if I drink liquor I feel worse as far as my epilepsy.  Everyone says don't drink..don't do this or that...I live my life and have fun when I want to.  I make sure that I take my meds on time and everyday.  It might be a good idea to start a medication just to stabilize you.  Popping a pill is not that dramatic.  As far as the Xanax..I would never touch that stuff.  Took one once for anxiety and it was a horrible feeling.  Just know when to stop the drinking and someone is aware of you having seizures.

Using a drug to fix the effects of another drug is not "normal" thinking. I know-I'm not normal either! I used to tell myself that the reason I drank too much sometimes was because I was too stressed over how much I drank (still with me?), and if I just let myself drink as much as I wanted, then the stress would go away and I could drink "normally". uh, yeah. That is very twisted logic. You said " I need some drug to make me feel safe. I know... i probably shoud not drink, but with my personality, the neuroticism and anxiety, I sometimes NEED to get drunk on a weekend..." No one needs to drink; if you think you need to drink, maybe your best bet would be to look at that issue first. Alcoholism was recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association in 1956. If you can't control the amount you drink once you start, or if you find (as I did) that you cannot stop completely when you want to, then maybe this would be a good area for you look at. If you think you have a problem, you do.

I drank because I was ready to slit my wrists - anxiety, restlessness, fear - and I didn't know how to change that feeling. Wine, scotch, vodka, whatever, helped. What I discovered is that those nasty feelings are intensified by alcohol, not relieved. When I stopped drinking (through a 12-step program), my life began to improve. Today I have real, honest to god friends, not drinking buddies, and 95% of the time, I'm content and happy. I had a grand mal and heart failure in June, totally out of the blue, and continue to deal with these issues. Life still is life, but how I react to it is totally different now that I am sober.

So, didn't mean to turn this into a lecture, it's just that I can so identify with you, what you are thinking and feeling. That was me many years ago. Rather than complicate the issue with another drug, please think about what might be the real root of your problems. Good luck!

PS: While you are worrying about seizures, don't forget about esophageal hemorrhage, cirrhosis of the liver, and other diseases related to the disease of alcoholism. Including malnutrition.

I have to ask the question. Does it seem unusual that you want to drink so bad that you feel you must take other drugs to make drinking possible? Many epileptics avoid drinking altogether because alcohol is just one more complication in in our attempts to cope with our illness.

I quit drinking on October 26, 1995. Yes, I know the exact date. I'm a recovering alcoholic. My seizures started in 2004, and are unrelated to drinking. They have been a painful and difficult part of my life since they started. But they are not nearly as problematic as my drinking was.

I wish you the absolute best as you try to solve your difficulties. I hope you will have a wonderful and seizure-free life. I can't say whether or not alcohol creates difficulty with your seizures, and I certainly don't know if you are addicted to anything, including alcohol. I can only say that my life is better, regardless of epilepsy, since I sought help from a power greater than myself.

Hi I have the same problem. I have epilepsy and it affects me the most when I am hungover. I am 21 and in college so when people tell me to simply "not drink" or that I have a drinking problem I get really annoyed because they do not understand. I am in college.

I've never had a seizure before but when I am hungover I always feel like I could possibly have one and I've come very close to having seizure. When I'm hungover I usually lay in bed all day because I am afraid of having a seizure in public. My heart usually races and it is hard for me to fall asleep so I just lay down for the whole day. When I try to socialize with my 5 other roommates it is hard because I simply feel "out of it".

This morning my "hangover" was really bad and my roommate gave me one of her anxiety medications. It's called Ativan. I looked it up online and I saw that it is taken by people who have epilepsy. I took it a few hours ago and I feel completely fine now. I am considering asking my doctor to prescribe me Ativan but I'm not sure if he will. I would only take it on rare occasions for when my hangover is unbearable like it was today. I really felt like I was going to have a seizure this morning and I'm not sure what would have happened if I didn't take that Ativan. I think I should be able to be prescribed it for emergency situations like this. Does anyone think a doctor would prescribe me Ativan?

Talk to your doctor first about seizures and alcohol. Usually, the withdrawal effect of alcohol on the brain is what makes people susceptible to more seizures after drinking. The answer for many is to not drink to excess and get hungover! Sure that's hard when a person is young and wants to do everything their friends are doing, but people need to get informed and weigh risks versus benefits. And that means learning the risks associated with seizures.

Ativan is used to help stop seizures, but it is not to be used on a regular basis. Also, people need to be careful mixing alcohol with medications such as ativan or any seizure medicine as the side effects will add up. Ativan is not a harmless drug and shouldn't be used unless specifically prescribed for a person. Just an fyi!

Not drinking to excess is not as bad as you think. People may be surprised at how well they feel and how many people don't like to drink. Try it.. you may just find the benefits outweigh the risks. You may think I am boring, but think of the big picture..

Resource Specialist

Couldn't help but respond to your comments. It was in college that I had to have a massive brain tumor removed (1970); epilepsy followed after that. But I do know that while in college I did become much more involved in was the thing to do. Even though after the sugery and diagnosed epilepsy,I contniued to drink. I did not even need any excuses to drink. My seizures became much more frequent. Alcohol does indeed reduce their tolerance. Alcohol eventually made me more depressed and affected my sleep...more seizures. The medicines do not react well with alcohol either; don't use them as you would to reduce a hangover. When I stopped drinking my seizures were reduced. I rarely drink now and just a little. Why rely on so much alcohol to make you feel better? There are other ways. We all need to take care of ourselves.


Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

24/7 helpline