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Can a brain injury lead to substance abuse?

A person who suffers from a traumatic brain injury is likely to suffer from various life effects. Some people might not realize how far reaching those effects can be. It is possible that a person who suffers from a traumatic brain injury might be more likely to have a problem with substance abuse.

What might lead to substance abuse after a TBI?

There are a host of issues that could lead to substance abuse after a TBI. The emotional trauma that is associated with the injury, as well as the realization that the person might not be able to do the things he or she used to do, can lead to substance abuse issues. These issues don't necessarily come up right after the injury. Instead, substance abuse, particularly alcohol use, is at the highest from two to five years after the injury occurs.

Are there any warning signs that substance abuse is likely?

People who had a substance abuse issue before the TBI are more likely to have the same problem after the injury. In some cases, the substance abuse becomes worse after the injury occurs. Having to be hospitalized because of the TBI is another warning sign that a person is more likely to suffer from a substance abuse issue after the injury. Around 10 to 20 percent of TBI patients will develop a problem with substance abuse for the first time after the injury.

The issue of substance abuse after a TBI might require the person to seek professional help for the substance abuse. The cost for treatment programs can be staggering. With that in mind, TBI patients might choose to seek compensation for their injury if it was caused by another person's recklessness, negligence, or purposeful actions.

Source:, "Substance Abuse and Traumatic Brain Injury," accessed Aug. 30, 2016

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