Avoiding Substance Abuse After Brain Injury?


Is there a "best treatment" for a person to avoid using alcohol and drugs after a brain injury, or does it just depend on the individual?


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The question is whether there's one best treatment for an individual who has an alcohol or other drug problem and they've had a brain injury. In my mind, no, there's not one best treatment. It's very important for, in substance abuse treatment as well as other kinds of behavioral problems and other kinds of medical problems, that the treatment approach be something that is one, effective, but also that the individual finds acceptable. And that's really what we need is the combination of effective and acceptable, because you can have a great treatment approach, but if the individual says, "Oh, this isn't really for me--I don't--I'm not willing to take that medication. I'm not willing to be involved in that group," then the effectiveness stops and it's not going to be effective for that person. So I consider part of the role of the professional is to figure out both what's effective and what works--what's going to be acceptable to this individual. And sometimes that might mean spending some time helping them understand why--you know--this treatment approach is based on their wants and desires and might be the best one for them. But in the end, if the individual doesn't agree and doesn't see it that way, it's not going to be effective. I don't care what it is. As a result, there are multiple ways to address substance abuse problems, and each individual might take a little different path. Personally, frankly, and professionally, one of my desires is that no matter the path the person might choose to address their substance abuse problem, that that path will know about traumatic brain injury, be able to recognize it in the folks they're working with as well as its consequences, and be able to adjust their treatment so that it is the most effective it can be when the person who's chosen that treatment also has a traumatic brain injury.
Posted on BrainLine August 30, 2011.

About the author: John Corrigan, PhD

Dr. John Corrigan is a professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Ohio State University, and director of the Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation. He is the project director for the Ohio Regional Traumatic Brain Injury Model System.

John Corrigan