Kindling refers to a neurological condition that occurs after repeated sedative, benzodiazepine, or opiate use and subsequent drug withdrawal. After each bout of substance use and withdrawal, the user becomes more prone to withdrawal and less of the substance is needed to produce withdrawal symptoms. Often, the withdrawal itself is made more intense.
Sedative substances that are GABAergic are often used in a recreational manner, as seen with benzodiazepines (etizolam, alprazolam , etc.) and alcohol often cause physical dependency and addiction in the user. When quit suddenly, the withdrawal from these substances causes a sudden change in the GABA system of the brain that involves acute GABA under activity as well as glutamate over activity. These two combined neurological effects lead to the increased risk of seizures and death upon withdrawal as each subsequent withdrawal becomes more intense.
Benzodiazepines can cause kindling in a severe and predictable manner due to their effects on the GABA neurological system. Kindling from this class of drugs and the subsequent increased withdrawal effects can lead to an increased risk of seizures and death from withdrawal.
Alcohol is known to be both physically and mentally addicting and also acts on the GABA system, among many other neurological systems in the brain. Binge drinking, or periods of increased alcohol consumption over a short period of time followed by abstinence, can lead to increased hangover symptoms and withdrawal symptoms. The increasing severity of withdrawal symptoms can increase the risk of seizures due to withdrawals.
Opiates also present kindling with both the acceleration of withdrawal symptom development and the worsening of withdrawals over binge using periods. Once opiate addiction has been achieved with one substance, any other opiate will present kindling symptoms. This is true even with potent opiates like heroin and the subsequent use of less potent opiates like codeine. Once an individual has developed a physical dependency on opiates any opiate will produce kindling effects.