Going out, clubbing and drinking can be a large part of university and college social life for some people. Having epilepsy may mean that you have some questions about this – even if you’ve already worked out the answers, there are still some important details you should be aware of:
I’ve got epilepsy, can I go clubbing?Having epilepsy does not automatically mean you can’t go clubbing. If your seizures are triggered by flashing lights (photosensitive epilepsy- which affects less than 5% of people with epilepsy), this may make things slightly more complicated. You may want to check with clubs and music venues as to what kind of lighting they have and whether they use flashing lights.
It is a flicker rate of between 5-30 times a second that is most likely to cause a problem but everyone is different.
Will drinking alcohol mean I have more seizures?Whether to drink alcohol or not is your personal choice but there are two key factors to consider:
- Is it safe to drink with my medication?
- What are the potential risks of drinking too much?
Can I drink alcohol while on my medication?The medical advice for drinking alcohol will vary depending on your medication, so check with your doctor. For more information, visit the NHS website and search under the drug name.
How much alcohol can I drink?If you have epilepsy, it is recommended you drink no more than 2 units of alcohol a day. (How much is 2 units?)
It is important to remember that for some people with epilepsy alcohol can increase the likelihood of seizures occurring. Having epilepsy does not necessarily mean that you cannot have a drink, it just means that you need to be a bit more careful.
Some things to consider are…
- Alcohol disrupts sleep – Good sleep habits are intrinsic to epilepsy management and being overtired is a common trigger for seizures.
- Antiepileptic medication can increase the effect that alcohol has on your body, conversely, it can also worsen the side effects of some AEDs.
- Alcohol itself can be a seizure trigger for some people. This can be when they are actually drinking, but more often it is the next day when their brain and body are dehydrated.
- It is not uncommon for people to overdo it on a night out, remember though, if you end up being sick it may reduce the level of medication in your system, which could in turn affect your seizures.
- If you do end up getting back late from a night out, try to give yourself plenty of time to recover and catch up on sleep the next day.<.li>
- Try speaking to your GP or Pharmacist to find out more about how your medication reacts with alcohol.
- Make sure that you drink lots of water in between alcoholic drinks and before you go to bed.
- Know your limits!
Will drugs affect my seizures?Odds are that you have no interest in taking recreational drugs (such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and marijuana), but that does not mean that you will not be exposed to them at one time or another. You may already know quite a lot about drugs, the risks involved in taking them or what you will do if you are offered them.
It is no surprise that taking recreational drugs can increase the risks of having a seizure and it is also worth noting that mixing some antiepileptic medications with other drugs can have serious health implications.
Some antiepileptic medications are controlled substances, which means that it is illegal for anyone to be in possession of them other than the person they have been prescribed too.
Only ever take medication that is prescribed to you and never give your prescriptions to anyone else.
If you want to talk to someone about drugs or you are worried about a friend, Frank has a lot of useful information.