Among the many causes of addiction, the one that is least discussed may be one of the most common—traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some experts believe that TBIs may be found in nearly 60% of substance abusers.
The exact role TBIs play in fueling substance abuse has proven difficult for scientists to pin down. However, some studies have shown that TBIs hinder cognitive performance, which is necessary for taking the mental steps necessary to make progress in substance abuse.
For patients to be successful in substance abuse treatment, they have to be able to weigh the benefits of their actions against the consequences. This type of abstract thinking is handled by the frontal cortex in the brain. During a traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, this region is damaged. A person with one or more TBIs will not only be more likely to slip into addiction, they will also have a harder time recovering.
If discussions about TBI sound familiar, it may be because this type of injury is central to the argument against contact sports like hockey, boxing, and most recently, football. Many former athletes of these sports have developed:
Not only do experts suspect that TBIs may lead to substance abuse, they have also found that substance abuse increases the negative effects of TBI. A treatment advisory called “Treating Clients with Traumatic Brain Injury” from the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration warns doctors, “A substance abuse history is associated with worse outcomes from TBI including greater likelihood of mortality, complications, and poorer hospital or emergency department discharge status, as well as ongoing disability and non-productivity a year or more after brain injury.”
The advisory goes on to explain of the 20% of TBIs that result in hospitalization, between 30%–80% of patients being treated for TBI have a history of substance abuse and 75% of patients have a measurable amount of alcohol in their system when they are admitted.
Currently, diagnosing TBI in the course of substance abuse treatment can be difficult and expensive. Injuries that are serious enough to cause cognitive problems may not even show up on MRIs and other scans.
Some experts are in the process of designing questionnaires that can help substance abuse treatment professionals know if TBI may be hindering client progress, but this subject has a long way to go before it will be fully understood.
Whether or not you suspect that you suffer from TBI, if you know your substance abuse is out of control, you should seek professional help. Drug and alcohol rehab is the best treatment for substance abuse. Banyan Treatment Center offers high-level, medical drug and alcohol rehab at a competitive price. Contact Banyan today to talk to a substance abuse counselor and begin the admission process.