|Scope of the Problem
If you know someone who has problems related to drinking alcohol or
other drug use, you're not alone. Each of the more than 12 million problem
drinkers and alcoholics in this country have people in their lives who
are personally affected by alcohol or other drug abuse. Because addiction
touches so many lives, it's important to educate yourself about substance
TBI & Substance Abuse
People with TBI have a very high incidence of alcoholism and chemical
dependence issues (this does not mean that all, or even most, TBI survivors
have these issues). There are several reasons for this. For many, the substance
use may have contributed to their TBI, and they are at risk for subsequent
injury if use continues. For others, substances offer an ‘excuse’ for behavior;
one can blame lack of attention or memory, slurred speech, altered emotions,
or unusual behaviors on the fact that s/he is ‘high’.
Also, most people with TBI are in the age range where experimentation
with substances is common. And, for many, drugs and alcohol offer a temporary
escape from the nightmare of the “loss of self’’ that was caused by brain
injury. At least for a time one can forget the catastrophe that has taken
over one’s life. Many individuals with TBI turn to substance abuse as a
means of coping with their losses.
One major problem for people with TBI who use or abuse substances is the
danger involved. Even if one isn’t on anti-seizure medication where alcohol
or other substance use can bring on or exacerbate seizures, substance intoxication
puts one in danger of accidents, and accidents can result in further brain
injury. There is also the complication of people with TBI not fully realizing
the impact their injury has had on them and therefore not acting safely
when using mind altering substances. And, lastly there is the problem of
some people with TBI not remembering their ‘limits’ and then overdoing
their substance use.
Substances include alcohol and other mind altering drugs
Abuse involves continued use despite the consequences or recurrent use
in situations when use is dangerous.
Dependence involves impaired control of the use of the substance and the
continued use despite the consequences.
As is true with many of the other agencies and facilities listed in
this resource guide, one type of program may work better than another for
an individual. Many people, for example, have gained much from the 12-Step
model (Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, etc.), while others benefit
little from it. So be prepared if your client/self/friend doesn’t benefit
from the first facility or organization s/he goes to.
Substance dependence is treatable, although not always quickly and easily.
With all that in mind, below are listed many of the organizations and facilities
that offer some help in dealing with psychoactive substance abuse. Also
included are references to articles addressing how alcohol affects recovery.
Other resources prepare families to talk with the survivor about substance
for Addiction Resources:
Regional Clearinghouses and Information centers in Washington State
Regional Support Networks (RSNs) Services Information
Help Lines and Support Groups
Publications on issues relating to Traumatic Brain Injury and addiction