Adolescence and Risk

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Whether you’re a parent of a child with epilepsy, or a young person with epilepsy; at some point, concerns about the risks of seizures and medications will arise.

Adolescence is often a time of taking more risks, exploring, resisting and experimenting. This can be especially worrying for parents of children with epilepsy. A common issue that arises during this time is parties and alcohol. Alcohol and seizures don’t mix well so it is wise to be informed about some risks related to alcohol.

People with epilepsy find that alcohol, particularly in large amounts can trigger seizures. If you have a seizure control, then an unexpected seizure can change your lifestyle dramatically – for example; losing your driving license. It may seem like a fun thing to do at the time, but the consequences might not be worth it. Some reasons behind why alcohol (and drugs) can cause seizures.

  • They affect the antiepileptic medication levels in the bloodstream
  • They are often associated with late nights and sleep deprivation
  • Stimulant drugs are known to cause seizures
  • Withdrawal seizures may happen when alcohol levels drop
  • People often forget to take regular medication they party hard

But knowing about these risks can help plan for the night ahead so alcohol intake doesn’t get out of control. It’s important to think seriously before making any decisions about taking drugs or binge drinking.

Moving from Paediatric to Adult services?

Developing independence as you get older is important, and living with epilepsy can make it harder to feel like others in your social group. Moving from paediatric (children’s) to adult epilepsy services happens at the same time as many other changes linked to being a young adult.

It is important to know how to balance gaining independence with managing risk, so you can make informed choices to help you stay safer:

  • Medication: taking your epilepsy medication regularly as prescribed can help seizure control and help reduce risks.
  • Medication side effects: be open with your doctor to help find a balance between seizure control and any side effects.
  • Driving a vehicle: to do this seizure control is necessary, and taking positive steps to self-manage your epilepsy is the first step.
  • Alcohol and substance use: can affect your epilepsy and how your medication works; which could have serious consequences.
  • Sex and Contraception: can be discussed with your doctor. Contraception and hormones can affect seizures in women and epilepsy medications can affect sex drive. It’s important you feel able to speak openly with them and ask any questions you have, to help you make informed choices about your epilepsy.

For more comprehensive information, eQuip is a resource developed by young people to share their experiences and questions to help you make informed choices. Click here to access eQuip.