Should alcohol withdrawal seizures be treated with anti-epileptic drugs?

Acta Neurol Scand. 1984 Jan;69(1):39-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1984.tb07778.x.


Seizures and delirium tremens were recorded among 292 randomly selected patients admitted to an in-patient alcoholism program. Despite the almost routine prophylactic use of anticonvulsant and sedative drugs the incidence of seizures and delirium tremens during detoxification in hospital was 3%. However, as most alcohol withdrawal seizures occurred immediately before admission, the overall seizure incidence was higher (10%). Those patients who developed seizures during detoxification admitted previous abuse of benzodiazepines or erratic use of phenytoin. The results suggest that prescribing of anticonvulsants to alcoholics may increase their seizure problems, because they are prone to erratic drug taking, and because of drug-alcohol interactions, increased drug metabolism and abuse of the sedative anticonvulsants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / drug therapy*
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Carbamazepine / therapeutic use
  • Chlormethiazole / analogs & derivatives
  • Chlormethiazole / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxazepam / therapeutic use
  • Pentobarbital / therapeutic use
  • Phenytoin / therapeutic use
  • Psychoses, Alcoholic / drug therapy*
  • Seizures / drug therapy*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Chlormethiazole
  • clomethiazole edisylate
  • Carbamazepine
  • Phenytoin
  • Oxazepam
  • Pentobarbital