Can Alcohol Increase Tourette Syndrome Symptoms?

By | December 2, 2008

Dr. Robbins, an advisory board member for ACN Latitudes, answered a reader’s question on Tourette’s and alcohol.

My daughter is 22 and in college. She can control her tics from Tourette syndrome well during the week. Then on the weekend she drinks and parties with her friends and the symptoms get way out of control. Is there a medical connection there?

Yes, there’s a medical explanation for why people with Tourette’s may find that alcohol consumption increases their tics. First, we need to understand that tic symptoms can be triggered by allergic reactions. Second, it has been shown that drinking alcohol can increase most allergic reactions by 50%.

So generally speaking, if one tends to have a minor tic reaction when exposed to a food or allergen, then alcohol consumption could make the allergic reaction and tic symptoms worse. Naturally, if one is over indulging, as appears to be the case here, the reaction can be expected to be even more severe.  Source on alcohol: James C Breneman, Basics of Food Allergy.

See reader responses, below.

Anything to add or ask about this post?

balloon tsa 1AIt’s your turn -- what are your thoughts? Please take a minute share your thoughts in the comment area below or discuss it in our forums. We would love to hear from you.

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About Albert Robbins, DO, MSPH

Dr. Albert Robbins is certified in preventive medicine and occupational-environmental medicine. A fellow of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, he is now retired. Dr. Robbins is an advisory board member for ACN Latitudes.

View all posts by Albert Robbins, DO, MSPH

16 Responses to “Can Alcohol Increase Tourette Syndrome Symptoms?”

  1. Anwen Roberts Says:

    I have a son that has A D H D and Tourette Syndrome ,he’s 17 and will be 18 in April . I find after he’s been drinking that his tics are worse and his A D H D becomes more fierce temper wise .It seems that alcohol cancel’s out his medication .


  2. Sheila Says:

    Thank you for sharing that. No doubt multiple factors are at play that affect the way alcohol influences ADHD and tics in the body.Unfortunately, 17 year olds are not always responsive to making the changes needed to avoid these consequences. (I’m sure you’ve discovered that already.)


  3. Mark Says:

    i have tourettes and want to know if theres anyone who can help? if theres anything i can do to get rid of this i would be VERY happy to know.


  4. Geoff Taylor Says:

    well i live in Canada im 19 and i have a question and if u cant help me out with it please direct me to some 1 who can thank u any way ive had TS since i was 8 the last year and half has been quiet but recently they’ve been coming back i would say every 15 mins then they take a break for about 30 mins its off and on i had it really bad when i was 14 i would yell out racial words towards black people not cool but im just wondering if i will grow out of TS soon some people said 21 it will stop for good but all i want to do is have a normal relationship thanks for your time


  5. sheila Says:

    Hi Geoff–have you had a chance to see our book? (go to home page of It is not expensive and would give you a lot of ideas that might help. Do you have allergies in your background? One thing you could do is try to think what might have changed in your life 1.5 years ago–new home, job, illness, etc.? I would start with the book and also you can check out our forum (see upper right on Latitudes page.) What you want to do is find out what is causing the flare up and return to the state you were before, when symptoms were not a problem. Sheila


  6. alcoholism symptoms Says:

    Yes it can increase tourette syndrome, specially if the person was a dipsomaniac (alcoholic). thanks for this blog.


  7. Liz windsor Says:

    None of Dr. Robbins assertions have any basis in fact. Unfortunatley this site is pure quackery.


  8. sheila Says:

    Your comment is not true, Liz. Environmental factors are documented as playing a significant role in TS.
    These factors can include food, allergens, chemicals, maternal factors before birth, etc.
    It’s a complex issue and we dont claim to have all the answers. But to insist, as you suggest, that there are not factors that can be identified and treated is not helpful.
    Check for research on this and you will find scientists know it goes beyond genetics.Further, Tourette syndrome has been linked to immune issues. There is a higher incidence of allergy with Tourettes and a number of other physical complaints that accompany TS. There is a study on mold triggering movement disorders.
    Toxic chemicals are linked to other movement disorders but have not been explored for TS. It is common sense that they should be avoided when someone has a hyperactive nervous system.
    If people say alcohol makes their tics worse, they should know–maybe it doesnt bother someone else. Just as milk gives someone a stomach ache and is fine for another person. More research needs to be done on the effect of diet, allergens, and chemicals in central nervous system disorders but your comment is way off base.


  9. drug rehab Says:

    Recent studies have shown that alcohol drinking is a risk factor to different kinds of diseases. Some of which are yet to be discovered, while some have been proven to worsen the situation of the illness.


  10. Sober living california Says:

    Probably, it can cause tourette syndrome, more over if the person was an alcoholic the possibility was high.


  11. jan klein Says:

    I have a 21 year old male client with TS and he finds that when he drinks the symptoms decrease.


  12. Sheila Rogers Says:

    I’ve heard that from a couple of people, that alcohol seems to relax them and thereby reduce their stress and inclination to tic. Most report the opposite, but apparently reactions can vary. Thanks for posting.


  13. sober living houses Says:

    Well it all depends on ones body how they react with alcohol, some may experience an increase in symptoms of TS while the others have an adverse effect.
    by: Dave


  14. braden Says:

    Can these reaction ever subside? for the past 2 weeks my ticks have flared out of control. I’ve also drank a lot in the past 2 weekends


  15. zack Says:

    can you grow out of ts


  16. Leanne Says:

    I just attended a get together and as I was not drinking noticed some unusual behaviour from my brother in law who got absolutely smashed. He is about 35 and is not known to have any illnesses and yet after excessive alcohol he was definitely experiencing reoccurrent tics – rythmic body and head movements and facial expressions. I was very suprised and worried. Does this mean he could have mild tourrettes and just doesn’t know it, or is it just a symptom of excessive alcohol?


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