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Keppra and Alcohol

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What is Keppra?

Keppra is a type of prescription medication that is used to treat the symptoms of seizures.4 These include partial onset seizures, myoclonic seizures, and tonic-clonic seizures. It is an antiepileptic drug. The medication is available as 250 mg, 500 mg, 750 mg, and 1000 mg oral tablets and as a clear liquid (100 mg/mL).5

Keppra

Keppra is a brand name for the drug, Levetiracetam.6 Other brands include Elepsia and Spritam.

Keppra is generally prescribed to patients who have epilepsy.3 It belongs to a class of drugs called anticonvulsants.4 Keppra may also be used in conjunction with some other medications.

What are the Short-Term Effects of Taking Keppra?

Like all drugs, Keppra may have some side effects. Short-term side effects of taking Keppra include, but are not limited to: 4

  • Exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Congestion
  • Infection

What are the Long-Term Effects of Taking Keppra?

Long-term effects of taking Keppra can include seizures that worsen or change over time. Swelling of the face and throat, as well as difficulty breathing and swallowing, are also concerns.

Is Keppra Habit-Forming?

No, Keppra is not considered a habit-forming medication. While some people may misuse Keppra, they do not become addicted to this drug.

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Can I Combine Keppra and Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol in excess while taking Keppra can be dangerous. 

While mixing Keppra and alcohol is not ideal, it is generally considered safe to drink in moderation. Moderate consumption should not cause harm.

What Happens When You Drink on Keppra

It is important to note that it will take fewer drinks to feel a ‘drunk’ effect while taking Keppra. So be mindful of the number of drinks consumed if you are on Levetiracetam or other medications to treat the symptoms of seizures.

This means that, while taking Keppra, just one drink may cause you to feel the effects of alcohol while on antiepileptic drugs. In other words, binge drinking is even more dangerous.

Seizure Risk

Also, note that withdrawal seizures may happen while drinking a lot. They may occur within 7 to 72 hours of stopping drinking. This is why it is important not to stop taking your Keppra medication in the same way it was prescribed just to drink alcohol.

You are more likely to have a seizure from missing your medication than from drinking alcohol. Always remember to drink alcohol in moderation. And, talk to your doctor about the risks of drinking alcohol while on Levetiracetam or other prescription medications for epilepsy. 

If you are struggling with alcohol misuse, consult your doctor before taking Keppra. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) can worsen your condition, and alcohol withdrawal can also cause dangerous seizures. 

Side Effects & Dangers of Mixing Keppra and Alcohol 

There are certain risk factors when combining any prescription drug with alcohol. Prescription medicine for seizure disorders, like Keppra and other drugs, may cause dizziness and drowsiness. Because alcohol has similar effects, you risk feeling the side effects a lot more.

Heavy drinking can cause seizures in anyone, even in people who do not have epilepsy.1 Therefore, drinking too much can be especially dangerous for someone who is taking Keppra to control seizures. 

Abusing alcohol may also result in increased mood swings, depression, and suicidal thoughts. It may also affect motor coordination.8

How Long After Taking Keppra Can I Drink Alcohol?

Generally speaking, you can drink alcohol after Levetiracetam is administered. But it is best to avoid taking them together and to avoid drinking too much alcohol if you do choose to drink.

Whatever you do, do not stop taking your medication as prescribed throughout the treatment phase. Again, skipping your antiepileptic drugs to drink alcohol is more likely to trigger a seizure (not alcohol itself). But remember that binge drinking can cause seizures, even in people who do not have epilepsy.1

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What Else Should I Avoid While Taking Keppra?

Avoiding others drugs that may have similar side effects is wise while taking Keppra. For example, sleep medications that make you drowsy may worsen the side effects of Keppra. 

Consult your doctor about any dangerous drug interactions. Some medications, such as macrogol (a laxative); other epilepsy medicines like oxcarbazepine, carbamazepine, phenytoin, lamotrigine, and phenobarbital; and methotrexate (for arthritis) may be dangerous.7

Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol misuse, professional help is available. You are not alone.

In 2019, 25.8 percent of people ages 18 and older reported engaging in binge drinking in the past month.2 Meanwhile, 6.3 percent reported engaging in heavy alcohol use in the past month.2

Worse, an estimated 14.5 million people ages 12 and older suffer from alcohol use disorder. This includes 9 million men and 5.5 million women.2

If you believe that you have a drinking problem, consult a medical professional before it gets worse. If you are questioning if you need help, it is likely that you do.

Symptoms of Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

Common signs of a drinking problem include: 2

  • Constantly thinking about alcohol
  • Inability to limit or cut alcohol intake
  • Mood swings when not drinking alcohol
  • Temptation to drink alcohol alone to feel alcohol's natural effects, rather than drinking to enhance social situations
  • Lying about alcohol consumption
  • Allowing alcohol to get in the way of responsibilities and obligations
  • Allowing alcohol to come before passions and hobbies

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) can take a serious toll on both your physical and mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of alcohol misuse and addiction, reach out for help immediately.

Alcohol use disorder can be fatal.

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Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

There are many treatment options available for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction, including:

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center.

These programs provide 24/7 comprehensive, structured care. You'll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring. 

The first step of an inpatient program is detoxification. Then behavioral therapy and other services are introduced. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer.

Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) provide similar services to inpatient programs.

Services include:

  • Medical care
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Support groups
  • Other customized therapies

However, in a PHP program, you return home to sleep. Some services provide food and transportation, but services vary by program.

PHPs accept new patients, and people who have completed an inpatient program and require additional intensive treatment.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient treatment or partial hospitalization programs. They are best for people who have a high motivation to recover, but cannot leave their responsibilities at home, work, or school.

These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule. The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment.

Outpatient programs are often part of aftercare programs once you complete an inpatient or PHP program. It is important for people undergoing treatment to have a stable and supportive home environment without access to drugs and alcohol.

Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)

Sometimes medications may be used in alcohol addiction treatment. These medicines can help reduce the negative side effects of detoxification and withdrawal. Others can help you reduce cravings and normalize body functions.

Disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral), and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat AUD. 

When combined with other evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), MAT can help prevent relapse and increase your chance of recovery.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) are open to anyone with a substance use disorder.

They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober. Support groups can be the first step towards recovery or part of a long-term aftercare plan.

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Updated on March 26, 2022
8 sources cited
  1. Alcohol and Epilepsy.” Epilepsy, The Epilepsy Centre.
  2. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  3. Effects of Levetiracetam (Keppra) on Alcohol Consumption - Full Text View.” Full Text View - ClinicalTrials.gov.
  4. Keppra (Levetiracetam): Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Interactions, Warning.” RxList, RxList, 20 Oct. 2020.
  5. Levetiracetam.” Epilepsy Foundation.
  6. Levetiracetam: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  7. Levetiracetam.” NHS Choices, NHS.
  8. Alcohol and Keppra: Is It a Safe Combination?: Delphi.” Delphi Behavioral Health Group, Delphi Behavioral Health Group, 19 May 2021.

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