Brain Injury and Addiction

Understanding the connection between brain injury and addiction

Brain Injury and Addiction

One out of two people living with a brain injury suffers from some form of substance abuse issue, according to the Office on Disability.

Unfortunately, brain injury and drugs and alcohol often go hand in hand. People who abuse drugs and alcohol have a higher incidence of sustaining a brain injury — from falling or driving while intoxicated, for example. And the effects of alcohol and drugs only get worse for people after a brain injury.

After sustaining a brain injury, many people experience devastating physical, emotional, and behavioral changes. People with brain injuries often struggle with depression, poor impulse control, and short-term memory problems, which are just a few of the reasons for the increased incidence of substance abuse among this population.

Mixing Alcohol and Drugs with a Brain Injury

There are many reasons why using drugs and alcohol after a brain injury is not recommended. Here are a few of the key reasons:

  • Alcohol and other drugs impair a brain’s ability to heal after an injury, slowing recovery.
  • Brain injuries cause problems with balance, walking, or talking that get worse when a person uses alcohol or other drugs.
  • Brain injuries cause problems with concentration and memory, and using alcohol or other drugs makes these problems worse.
  • After a brain injury, drinking alcohol or using other drugs can cause a seizure.
  • People who have had a brain injury are more likely to have times that they feel low or depressed, and drinking alcohol and abusing drugs makes this worse.

Finding Treatment

Too often, people living with brain injuries are not successful in conventional drug and alcohol treatment programs because the programs do not accommodate their cognitive deficits and learning styles. Treatment programs that are familiar with the common behaviors associated with brain injuries offer the most successful treatment outcomes for individuals living with a brain injury and a substance abuse issue.

Since 1990, Vinland Center has met the complex needs of individuals with disabilities seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. We are well-known for our specialized and highly-successful treatment model tailored to adults with cognitive impairments, including brain injuries.