- SELF STUDY MODULES
- 1. Intro to TBI
- 2. Communication
- 3. Skills for independence
- 4. Cognitive changes
- 5. Behaviour changes
- 6. Sexuality
- 7. Case management
- 8. Supervising staff
- 9. Mobility & motor control
- 10. Mental health & TBI:
- 11. Mental health problems
and TBI: diagnosis
- 12. Working with Families
after Traumatic Injury:
- 10.0 Aims
- 10.0A Take the PRE-Test
- 10.1 Mental health & mental illness
- 10.2 Why identify mental health problems after TBI
- 10.3 Why a person might get a mental health problem
- 10.4 The brain and mental health problems
- 10.5 Types of mental health problems after a TBI
- a) Depression
- b) Psychosis
- c) Anxiety
- d) Personality change
- 10.6 Fatigue and problems initiating activities
- 10.7 Issues in using:
- a) Drugs & alcohol
- b) Pain killers
- c) Natural therapies
- 10.8 Treatment challenges
- 10.9 Who to see - services available
- 10.10 Take home messages
- 10.11 Resource
- 10.12 Take the POST-test
10.7a Issues in using drugs and alcohol
Drug and alcohol problems can cause mental health problems
Drug and alcohol problems can cause mental health problems in their own right.
If you drink too much alcohol or if you use marijuana you can get a mental health problem or a mental illness.
A lot of brain injuries are associated with the use of drugs or alcohol.
In some studies alcohol has some role to play in getting a brain injury in up to 70% of people. Either the person was intoxicated and driving or the person was intoxicated, hit by a car while crossing a road, falling, doing something impulsive. Drugs such as Ecstasy or Speed can also change how a person thinks and increase the risk of causing a brain injury.
If you have a drug and alcohol problem and then you have a brain injury sometimes this can be a real challenge in terms of your rehabilitation because you might crave to use the drugs or alcohol to try to deal with your problems from the brain injury itself.
Tolerance of alcohol is reduced
One of the things that does happen after a brain injury is that if you previously could drink six beers and not have a problem, when you have your brain injury you drink one beer and you have a problem because your brain's tolerance to the alcohol is reduced.
What is really difficult is you often do not notice that your tolerance to the alcohol is reduced but other people can see it.
There are cases of people who after one or two drinks have what we call an alcoholic blackout
They do not remember anything that they have done and they can become aggressive or put themselves in situations where they are at the risk of being hurt.
Drugs and alcohol often stops the effects of other treatment
If you have a mental health problem from your brain injury and you try to treat it with drugs and alcohol it often stops the treatment that the doctors or therapists are giving you. It also seems to make the mental health problem worse.
Drug and alcohol and loss of brain cells
When you have had a brain injury often you have lost a number of nerve cells, you have what we call a reduced neuronal reserve. So if you think about it like a pie, you have had a brain injury and you lose a piece of that pie, so you have got less pie left to do what you need it to do. If you then drink alcohol you can damage the brain and so you are going to be losing more and more cells so the problems can be greater.
One of the particular drugs that can cause a problem with this is Ecstasy. Ecstasy is a drug that a lot of young people use in parties, they enjoy the sensation it gives them, but it kills brain cells in its own right. So if you have already lost brain cells from a brain injury you probably do not want to be making it worse by using these drugs as well.
We usually ask people not to use drugs or alcohol after they have had their brain injury because the brain does not deal with it as well as it used to.