Lamictal and Alcohol

by on May 16, 2012

Patients taking Lamictal (Lamotrigine) are generally advised to avoid drinking alcohol. As with other central nervous system drugs, possible side effects are enhanced when taken together with alcohol. Theoretically, combining alcohol and Lamictal may result in impairment of thinking, judgment and psychomotor skills, although there are no controlled studies to prove these potential drug interactions.

Side Effects

Patients who have consumed alcohol while taking Lamictal may experience side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness. Alcohol use is also thought to increase the risk of seizure, especially for patients with history of seizure or epilepsy. Both alcohol and Lamictal can enhance each other’s effects. In addition, alcohol can make the patient more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. As with other seizure medications, Lamictal can significantly lower the patient’s alcohol tolerance, therefore, these patients may not be able to safely drink their usual or average alcohol dose.

Patients who have taken alcohol and Lamictal may display alcohol-specific side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, poor coordination and blurred vision which can lead to inability to perform certain functions. Because of this effect, these patients are advised to avoid performing activities that require focus and concentration such as driving or operating machinery, as well as other hazardous activities.

Furthermore, since seizure medications, including Lamictal, can significantly lower the patient’s alcohol tolerance, the rate of intoxication is far more common in these patients. Rapid intoxication is a serious health concern that can present as the side effects of Lamictal. It can be quite difficult to distinguish simple Lamictal side effect with acute symptoms of alcohol intoxication. To be safe, patients taking Lamictal should avoid drinking any form of alcohol throughout the treatment regimen.

Increased Risk for Seizures

Usually, Lamictal (Lamotrigine) is prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy, bipolar disorder and seizures. It is important to note that alcohol can precipitate seizure episodes in these patients. It is for this reason why many healthcare providers constantly warn patients against alcohol drinking. Although drinking small amounts of alcohol is not likely to cause serious consequences, excessive drinking and alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures and even status epilepticus, a severe and potentially life-threatening condition. Studies suggest that it is actually the state of alcohol withdrawal that worsens seizure, and not alcohol itself.

In some patients, moderate drinking does not increase seizure activity nor affect the amounts of Lamictal blood levels. But not all patients react to alcohol and drugs in the same way. Some patients are more sensitive to this interaction; even moderate amounts of alcohol can cause adverse side effects. These patients are advised not to drink alcohol at anytime in the treatment.

Preventing Potential Interactions

Since patients react differently to alcohol, it is recommended that each patient consult their healthcare provider about their alcohol consumption. Your physician can give you appropriate recommendations regarding alcohol. If you are taking Lamictal and experience any untoward symptom after drinking alcohol, contact your healthcare provider right away.