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An Overview: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) And Addiction

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) And Addiction


Traumatic Brain Injury referred to as a TBI, is a brain injury caused due to a violent force or jolt to the head. This brain injury happens due to a fall from a height, accidents, firearms, and sports injury. This causes damage to the brain where the cells & tissues are bruised and injured. The immediate and delayed symptom of a brain injury includes blurry vision, loss of consciousness, and difficulty in concentrating. Anyone who encounters a head injury should immediately seek medical attention. Because TBI is the major cause of disability and death worldwide.

It has been estimated that about 1.7 million TBI’s occur each year in the united states. Traumatic brain injury often goes hand-in-hand with substance abuse. It has been reported that a wide majority of people who enter the emergency room with a brain injury have been intoxicated. People with substance addiction are at high risk of TBI, due to impaired vision & judgments. Patients taking treatments for addiction have also reported having a previous head injury. However, a history of addiction before a TBI increases the chance of abusing a substance after TBI. Decidedly there is a link between Traumatic brain injury and addiction.

The interlink between these two some times becomes more severe and results in death, this can be treated when they receive appropriate quick medical assistance in that situations, this blog wholly speaks about the connection between TBI and the addiction.

Before And After Effects Of TBI

Before And After Effects Of TBI

This paragraph exactly speaks about what happens to a person during and after their TBI. During the Traumatic Brain Injury, the skull is penetrated, struck due to some kind of accidents, this actually results in brain damage or tearing of any brain tissue. This sometimes develops into severe effects causing internal bleeding, swelling, lack of oxygen level which results in the death of brain cells. According to the severeness of the injury, the damage to the brain also differs, sometimes it can be a small clot, and other times it can diffuse the whole brain.

Some symptoms caused because of TBI are difficulty in thinking, problems with multitasking, and the major functions of the brain like sensory functions were affected because of this, these people have to deal with the emotional challenges too. Many of them will have some psychiatric disorders and this becomes a great hurdle for the counselors to identify the reason and the cause of psychiatric disorders among the patients.

The Effects Of Substance Addiction On A Person With TBI

There is numerous evidence that shows the adverse effects of drug or alcohol addiction after a traumatic brain injury. The addiction recovery process for those with brain injury and substance addiction is quite difficult. The cognitive skills get impaired with a brain injury and it aggravates with substance addiction. Substance addiction after a brain injury has more powerful effects. People with a brain injury will mostly have depression and anxiety, which again triggers the use of alcohol or a drug. Drinking alcohol or abusing drugs after a traumatic brain injury causes a seizure. Addicted persons with brain injury are more likely to have multiple brain injuries.

Who Is At The Risk?

According to fewer studies, it says that those people who get back to abuse alcohol after 2 to 5 years have some fewer effects which periodically leads to a major issue and sooner it will reach the prior levels of alcohol and other drug use. In these situations, if they are guided or taught with the effects of drug and alcohol abuse after TBI, the people might recovery from addiction. This is the case for those who were into some kind of addiction before their injury and the other case is that those people who involve in abusing substances or alcohol after their TBI. Some studies indicated that 10-20% of people with TBI develop their substance abuse or addiction after their injury. So the risk rate for those people who were admitted for TBI to substance abuse is more either this may due to the post ill effects or vulnerabilities. 

The Effects Of Alcohol Abuse And TBI

How alcohol affects the brain and behavior? Apart from substance abuse, alcohol addiction has a connection with TBI. About ⅔ of people who have diagnosed with TBI have an alcohol addiction and about 30-40% of people with TBI, injured when they were under the influence of alcohol. Nearly half of the population who consumes alcohol before TBI cuts off their addiction but some people remain drinking continuously which makes them prone to many negative consequences. Many of them analyzed and understood that their brain becomes more sensitive to alcohol and thereby has a lot of chances to get injured again. Ther might be a severe problem that was dealing with your emotional level and the major cause for your depression.

Evidence Of Alcohol In

Brain Injury Recovery

  • The use of alcohol slows down your sobriety and recovery process and makes you wait for a much longer time to get away from your illness and it may even take years.
  • Avoiding alcoholism is the best way to enhance your healing process and improves the chance of your well being.

Brain Injury And Seizures

  • The chance of getting epilepsy is more common for the survivors.
  • Alcohol places a major role in developing seizures, this will affect your memory.

Risk Of Having Another One

  • The persons who consume alcohol after their TBI have a higher risk rate of about 3 to 8 times prone to another brain injury while compared to though who don’t consume any.
  • Being away from alcohol addiction can reduce the risk of another injury and it is definitely a life-saving one.

Mental effects

  • Alcohol always takes control of your brain and worsens the consequences, it poor the memory power and stability of your thinking.
  • It induces more negativities and magnifies some of your cognitive problems.

Mood Swings

  • Alcohol is a “depressant” drug, commonly the people will be more depressant of the first year when they get injured.
  • This can automatically reduce the effectiveness of anti-depressant medications and it is not advisable for those who take these kinds of medications.

Addiction And TBI Treatment

Addiction And TBI Treatment

Addiction & TBI are horrible combinations. Hence the treatment should be intensive and concurrent. Physical and mental healing for both the ailments takes time and care. If you look for treating both TBI and addiction, then it is imperative to choose a facility that offers programs to improve the cognitive skills that are impaired due to a brain injury.  Here are the treatments provided by the addiction treatment centers.

Rehabilitation: Here an initial medicative treatment is provided to stabilize the patient. The main focus of rehabilitative treatment is to restore the brain’s functions like memory, speech, reading, problem-solving ability, and vocational retraining. Treatments are given to avoid secondary complications which include pneumonia, contractures, and pressure sores.

Therapy: Various therapies are offered by a good facility center to treat patients with TBI and addiction. These therapies improve cognitive skills and improve skills to perform day to day activities. Therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT), occupational therapy, recreational therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.

Motivational interviewing (MI): As the name implies, the treatment is a counseling process that motivates the patient to get healed. Here the counselor provides positive hopes for the patient’s recovery progress. This is a client-centered process where the patient is given the first priority and eliminating their fears & doubts about the recovery.

Counseling: Counseling for substance abuse sometimes called talk therapy is the main ingredient in kind of addiction and TBI treatment. One-to-one counseling with a therapist gives the patient reassurance and the required knowledge to progress towards the recovery. Here the counselor guides the patient in recognizing and resolving ambivalence.

Support groups: Participating in a support group is highly recommended for those with addiction and TBI. Here the patients get an opportunity to meet and communicate with other patients with TBI & addiction. Support groups provide the necessary resources and mentors to guide the patient with knowledge, care, counseling to promote a speedy recovery.

Stats Of Substance Abuse Before Injury:


Stats Of Substance Abuse Before Injury

  • According to the TBI Model Systems National Database, the rate of people with a different kind of addiction before the injury was: alcohol use – 43%, illicit drug use – 29%, and those with the history of either was 48%
  • A study from OSU stats that, the rate was about 54% for alcohol abuse, 34% of other drug abuse, and 58% of using both the things
  • According to the stat by the University of Washington about 58% of people who were at the risk of alcohol abuse, and 39% of them for illicit drug usage, and about 61% of them with the history of both.

The Outlook For Addiction And TBI

The outlook for patients with addiction and TBI is hopeful if the patient receives the right treatment and receive proper aftercare treatments. addiction treatment for patients with TBI will help the patients how to overcome cravings, emotions, anxiety, depression, behavior issues, and prevent a relapse. The recovery doesn’t happen overnight and the time span varies with each individual. Whether it’s for TBI or addiction, not every treatment fits everyone. Therefore it is imperative to choose tailored treatments based on the severity of the ailments.

Last Update : June 25, 2021


Can you leave the rehabilitation center?

You can leave the rehab any time, no one will compel you to stay at the rehab. However, dedication and continued treatment are required to fight addiction and achieve a sober life.

What are the Stages of Addiction?

There are various stages of addictions. The initial stage is the functioning individual with the addiction. The most common scenario is they have a job and their relationships are intact, but their health is depleting slowly because of their dependence.

What are narcotics and why people get it?

Narcotic analgesics (painkillers) are drugs that can reduce pain, cause numbness and/ or induce a state of unconsciousness. They have the tendency to cause tolerance and addiction

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5 thoughts on “An Overview: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) And Addiction

  1. awesome article. It’s helpful about TBI recovery treatments. Thanks for sharing this article Katrina…

  2. Nice article. This article is helpful with guidelines for TBI treatments. Thanks for sharing this article…

  3. thank you for explaining. I hope Doctor’s will know that we who have Concussion, s Verify quite a bit. I see it’s hard to catch in diagnosis right after the accident . But after a week or so everyone who knows the T B I person can See we suffer brain issues.

  4. Each TBI is very different, but there are similarities. My heart goes out to this man because I know his struggles.

  5. Nice article about TBI. Most probably addiction controls our brain and due to this their might be mental illness and other issues! Thanks for sharing this article Katrina.