Sometimes, life has a way of throwing curveballs that knock you off your happy course for a while. However, while some of us might have the lighter option of suffering from a severe bout of influenza or coping with a sprained ankle, other people are not so lucky. In many cases, in freak accidents, unfortunate people will be victimized by a terrible tragedy called a traumatic brain injury (TBI), in which their heads sustain heavy damage from an impact with a blunt object.
Consider, for a moment, that 2 million people suffer from these terrible injuries every single year in the United States of America, and you will begin to see how huge this problem truly is. So why do so many people suffer from this issue? Simply put, this number stems from the simple fact that, despite being hospitalized and monitored, many victims will return home and suffer from the most severe side effects of the TBI, resulting in damage that cannot be immediately treated by a medical professional.
For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has estimated that 52,000 TBI victims die each year, while 275,000 of these people are hospitalized (with 80% receiving treatment before returning home). Without immediate and long-term care, victims of a TBI will sustain far greater damage than the initial impact.
So why is this so relevant to the field of addiction studies?
Interestingly, medical professionals have confirmed that a significant link exists between traumatic brain injuries and drug abuse/addiction. For example, if a person suffers from a TBI while intoxicated, they will not receive the help they desperately need. In other words, a lack of care and an addiction to a toxic substance form an overwhelmingly dangerous loop. Even worse, it can make the road to rehabilitation treatment much more dangerous than before.
What Exactly Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Simply put, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a person receives a forceful blow to the head or their body. At times, the object that caused the impact can penetrate the skull and damage brain tissue, resulting in heavy swelling and/or bleeding. Although minor forms of this injury only affect the nerve cells for a short period of time, more dangerous TBIs can result in bruises, tissue damage, and additional complications (including death).
Here are the three sets of symptoms for a TBI:
- Physical: loss of consciousness, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, slurred speech
- Sensory: blurred vision, nasty taste, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), lack of smell, photosensitivity
- Mood/Cognitive: memory problems, lack of concentration, mood problems, depression
However, a TBI must not be confused with brain damage. Although both conditions result in the destruction of brain cells, brain injuries do not always result in permanent damage.
Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Generally, there are several types of traumatic brain injuries, which can either be caused by a blunt force or an internal problem. Let’s take a look at them now:
- Closed-head injuries: These take place when a person’s skull is not pierced by an object. One of the most common types is a concussion.
- Open-head injuries: Also labeled as a penetrating injury, this takes place when an object cracks the skull and enters the brain. Examples of open-head injuries include gunshot wounds or wounds from car accidents.
- Acquired injuries: This type of TBI occurs at the cellular level. Two of the most common types include brain tumors and strokes.
- Head injuries: These generally include any trauma to the scalp, skull, or brain. Typically, these are just regular head bumps which require monitoring.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Substance Abuse/Addiction
Interestingly, researchers have confirmed that TBIs and substance abuse/addiction share many dangerous links. For example, if a person uses drugs at the time the TBI was sustained, this individual will face a much longer recovery time (for addiction and medical treatment). Additional research has also proven that substance abusers exhibit a naturally higher risk for TBIs than healthy people. Overall, 1 out of 3 TBI victims also have history of substance abuse or addiction.
Even more interesting, physicians have discovered a link between recovering addicts/abusers and TBI. Based on recent studies, 63% of addicts undergoing rehabilitation treatment had previously sustained one of these detrimental injuries (some being so severe that the victims had to be hospitalized or were rendered unconscious).
Possible Risk of Developing Substance Abuse/Addiction
Although not enough research exists to prove this theory in full, researchers have speculated that TBIs could actually increase the risk for developing substance abuse or addiction down the line. For example, current evidence strongly suggests that a head injury will negatively affect a portion of the brain that supervises self-control and self-regulation. In other words, medical professionals have theorized that victims of this injury can ultimately make more bad choices after recovery.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Are a Wake-up Call?
On the flip side, some doctors believe TBIs can be dangerous wake-up calls for addicts or abusers, as the recovery time in the hospital will serve as the initial stage of detox and withdrawal. For example, here are some reasons why an alcoholic or alcohol abuser may abstain after suffering a TBI:
- Following the head trauma, the patient will not use an intoxicating substance during recovery.
- Patients may become aware of opportunities for healing and addiction recovery while in the hospital.
- The hospital staff might stage an intervention on behalf of the family or recommend programs for detox, rehab, and recovery.
- The patient may realize they have made bad choices and start to reform their life in the hospital.
Seeking Treatment for Drug Addiction and Alcoholism
At The Recover, we fully understand how difficult treatment processes can be for addicts and alcoholics through our daily work to help these individuals overcome this terrible, painful disease. Although many people believe they can overcome their problems without help, residential rehabilitation treatment programs are still an essential step on the road to recovery. Although the path to health and happiness might not be an easy one to take, you can finally enter the threshold to freedom with the help of a loving, supporting team. Additional aspects like counseling and psychological care can ensure you address underlying psychological issues that ultimately led you to become an addict. From here, you can build an infrastructure that will help you live your life with entering relapse, all with the help of a solid residential rehabilitation treatment program.
An unbiased and substance abuse and mental health news provider, The Recover works hard to help victims of drug abuse or addiction discover the right residential rehabilitation treatment programs in their local areas. We also provide detailed information concerning West Virginia Centers for addiction recovery. For more information, contact us today at (888) 510-3898 to learn more about our comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment program.