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Phenytoin and alcohol

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Chronic heavy alcohol consumption of more than 30 units per day has been shown to reduce serum levels of phenytoin by about 1/3. In patients with only moderate or low alcohol consumption, no effect has been shown in serum phenytoin levels.

Phenytoin potentiates the effects of alcohol.

Patient advice (3)

  • It is recommended that you limit yourself to one or two units of alcohol per day. Half a pint of standard strength beer (4%) is 1 unit, one 175ml glass of wine (12%) is 2% and one single pub measure of spirits (40%) is 1 unit. Drinking may put you at risk of a seizure


  • Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin (1996), Drugs and alcohol: harmful cocktails?, 34 (5), 36-8.
  • Hoppener RJ et al (1983), Epilepsy and alcohol: the influence of social intake on seizures and treatment in epilepsy, Epilepsia, 24, 459-71.
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (Accesed 4/5/2014). Phenytoin - Information for adults with epilepsy

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