Brain injury and substance abuse go together too often

July 20, 2022, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

The relationship between brain injury and substance abuse was established long ago. Whether the choice of the patient is to use alcohol, prescription drugs, or non-prescription drugs, many find some relief in numbing themselves against their symptoms. 


Sadly, the misuse of substances cooccurring with acquired brain injury (ABI) is associated with serious long-term complications, alterations to the brain, addiction, personality disorders, and other issues leading to a poor quality of life for patients.


The Psychiatric Times has recently published an article titled “Substance Misuse and Acquired Brain Injury”, Gary S. Seale, Ph.D., LPA, LCDC, CBIS-T. He examines the intersection between substance misuse and ABI to assist clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring conditions.


The relationship between alcohol misuse and ABI is strong; more than 50% of patients treated for TBI were intoxicated at the time of injury. Alcoholism is associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart arrhythmia, blood clotting disorders, hypertension and diabetes.


Opioid and other street drug misuse is also closely linked to ABI. Their use can lead to brain damage from anoxic and hypoxic brain injury, or through damage associated with elevated heart rate and blood pressure. You can read more about brain injury and substance use on the Brain Injury Canada Website.


When healthcare providers are treating patients, they must understand the relationship between drug/alcohol misuse and the ABI to effectively treat patients and their conditions. According to Dr. Seale, many patients who suffer an ABI resume drug/alcohol use within the first few days following the injury and are at a higher risk for reinjury, developing mood disorders, death, and a decreased quality of life.


Once a complete assessment is made of patients with ABI their healthcare providers can go on to develop comprehensive treatment plans that included education and brief interventions to slow future substance use.


The inclusion of patient families is important. Arming them with information about the negative implications of continued substance misuse should focus on:

  • The suppression of cognitive recovery
  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Possible interactions of substances/alcohol and prescribed medications
  • Increased risk of a subsequent TBI
  • Focussing on complete abstinence for at least a full year following injury


If you or a loved one has suffered a serious brain injury due to someone else’s negligence you should contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation.

We will help you settle your case and secure your future.


Posted under Automobile Accident Benefits, Brain Injury, traumatic brain injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us at 1-519-742-7774.

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