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  • Taking Keppra (the brand name for levetiracetam) and alcohol together is never recommended because of how intense the side effects can be. The effects can range from dizziness and headaches to suicidal thoughts and hallucinations.

    What Is Keppra?

    Keppra is an anticonvulsant prescription drug that’s used to treat people with seizure disorders like epilepsy, tonic-clonic seizures, partial-onset seizures, and myoclonic seizures. Occasionally, it is also used to treat alcohol withdrawal seizures.

    Keppra is also known under the brand names Elepsia and Spritam. The medication is available as oral tablets and as a clear liquid.

    How Keppra Works

    Anticonvulsants or antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) like Keppra work by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the central nervous system. 

    The more GABA, the less activity there is in neurons in the brain. Less activity in neurons can lead to fewer seizures.

    These types of medications also stop the release of calcium in the neurons which reduces their activity as well and makes many types of seizure disorders more manageable.

    Low Potential For Abuse

    Despite how the seizure medication may be misused, Keppra does not have a huge potential for abuse and the body generally does not develop a physical dependence on it.

    Effects Of Mixing Keppra & Alcohol

    The most common side effects of combining Keppra and alcohol include:

    • drowsiness
    • decreased energy
    • appetite loss
    • difficulty with motor coordination
    • dizziness
    • headache
    • mood swings
    • muscle weakness
    • numbness
    • irritability
    • aggression
    • congestion
    • depression
    • suicidal thoughts
    • hallucinations
    • swelling
    • infection
    • difficulty breathing

    If you experience any of these side effects, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

    Risks Of Mixing Keppra & Alcohol

    Combining Keppra and alcoholic drinks exacerbates the side effects of each substance. The increase in the intensity of those side effects can lead to even more serious issues including:

    Increased Suicidal Thoughts

    One of the most serious risks of drinking alcohol while on Keppra is an increase in suicidal thoughts. 

    It’s important to keep an eye on your mood when prescribed Keppra. Suicidal thoughts are a side effect of taking the drug on its own. But it can become even worse when mixing it with alcohol

    Liver Damage

    While liver damage when on Keppra alone is a very rare side effect, when combined with alcohol, especially excessive alcohol consumption, the risk increases significantly. 

    If liver damage isn’t treated and alcohol use continues, the damage to the liver can become life-threatening.

    Injuries & Accidents

    Alcohol and Keppra can also cause impaired judgment along with extreme dizziness and issues with concentration. These effects can increase the risk of risky behaviors, injuries, and problems with motor skills. 

    It also doesn’t help that Keppra may lower alcohol tolerance. One or two drinks could get you drunk before you realize it and partake in something risky you normally wouldn’t do.

    Efficacy Of Keppra

    Alcohol can be a trigger for seizures. When Keppra is mixed with alcohol, it can make the medication less effective at treating seizure disorders. 

    While alcohol in moderation likely won’t lead to a seizure, heavy drinking or binge drinking can increase the risk of a seizure whether you’re taking an anticonvulsant medication or not.

    Treatment For Alcohol Abuse 

    While Keppra doesn’t have much of a potential for abuse or dependency, alcohol does. There are many different types of treatment available for those struggling with alcohol use disorder and addiction.

    While in treatment, you will likely receive therapy, participate in support groups, learn about alcohol use disorder, and discover coping skills for relapse prevention.

    To learn about our treatment options, please connect with us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Epilepsy Foundation - Alcohol
    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Keppra
    New Zealand Ministry of Health - Keppra

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 30, 2022
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