Substance Abuse and Its Relation to Traumatic Brain Injuries

Nov 25 11:55 2007 Peter Kent Print This Article

Often patients who have been hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) leave the hospital still in pain or with depression. To combat these feelings, patients repeatedly turn to substances such as alcohol and drugs. However, when a patient is in the hospital with a substance abuse problem, the symptoms of that are so similar to the symptoms of a brain injury that the brain injury can be overlooked.

Doctors have consistently affirmed that substance abuse has a roll in many cases where patients are being treated from brain injuries. The injury may be a result of doing an activity while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,Guest Posting or the patient may have already been treated for a brain injury and to combat the pain, get involved in substance abuse. Many questions can be asked in these cases such as: What can be done when someone who is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol is also suffering from a brain injury? What part can substance abuse play in a traumatic brain injury?

Who Is At Risk For Traumatic Brain Injury?

Alcohol abuse plays a major role in traumatic brain injury, with many incidents occurring in relation to automobile crashes or heavy equipment used while under the influence. The medical community recognizes that young males are the most likely to suffer from alcohol-related TBI. These incidents may be isolated, but many fall within a context of broader substance abuse: for example, a longitudinal study at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio has found that nearly 60 percent of their patient sample had prior histories of drug and alcohol abuse.

Those with prior histories of serious substance abuse can have an even harder time while hospitalized than those with no prior history. This is due to the fact that many patients are both recovering from their brain injuries and dealing with the frustrating physical and emotional effects of detoxification. The presence of drug or alcohol abuse can also complicate diagnoses, as many of the symptoms of overdose (respiratory depression, lethargy, confusion, apathy, and disorientation) are similar to those of traumatic brain injury. Thus, TBI is sometimes overlooked, leading to complications and ongoing symptoms related to insufficient care.

After Discharge: Substance Abuse A Risk For TBI Patients

The struggles with substance abuse do not necessarily end when a traumatic brain injury patient is released from the hospital and discharged to his or her home and community. In fact, they are sometimes just beginning: Victims of TBIs often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional disturbances or changes in personality that might be a result of a brain injury. The brain injury patient may not even be able to disclose his or her own problems with substances due to after effects of the injury such as speech issues or memory loss; similarly, they may already exhibit external symptoms some would associate with intoxication and may feel that it doesn't matter if they actually indulge in those substances since their physical symptoms already make them seem as if they do.

What Can Families Do About Substance Abuse and Traumatic Brain Injury?

Families can play a large role in both recognizing and intervening in substance abuse in a traumatic brain injury survivor. Families who take care of the brain injured patient are often the first to notice that the person they are caring for is developing a substance addiction. Families can help inform health care providers of these issues, encourage their loved one to seek rehabilitation, and refuse to enable the addictive behaviors of a traumatic brain injury victim with a substance abuse problem. A drug-free surrounding that is supportive provided by the families can be another way to help the substance abuser and brain injury victim towards rehabilitation and regaining all functions. However, substance abuse can have an enormous negative impact on family members who suffer emotionally as their loved one slides into dangerous habits. It is essential that families of traumatic brain injury survivors with associated substance abuse issues seek out their own support, either through a professional counselor or a local Al-Anon group, in order to cope with the ravages of substance abuse.

Some families may wish to hire an experienced brain injury attorney to help them address not only medical care for substance abuse treatment, but the myriad of other issues related to traumatic brain injury. TBI is stressful on families and individuals; a savvy brain injury lawyer can help navigate the system, obtain necessary services, and even seek financial compensation for expenses such as lost wages, future medical care, medication and hospital costs, and pain and suffering.

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Peter Kent
Peter Kent

Your source for everything legal on the web is located at You can find LegalView at and access a complete legal database and also make use of the free attorney referral service. Utilizing this service, users can find attorneys dealing with a variety of legal services such as a construction accident lawyer or mesothelioma lawyers. Visitors can also find a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) lawyer at

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