Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs because of sudden damage to the brain. The American Association of Neurological Surgery explains that TBI “is a disruption in the normal functioning of the brain that can be caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head, the head suddenly and violently hitting an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.” The aftermath and symptoms that present because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. For some, a TBI may only affect the exact location on the brain where the injury occurred, while for others a TBI could also affect surrounding tissues and cause damage to one’s brain in other areas apart from the initial site. Symptoms that present with TBIs can range in severity and duration. The nature of the symptoms can shift as some TBI symptoms may appear immediately and dissipate rather quickly, while others could present several days or weeks later, and some experienced symptoms may evolve over time. TBI can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning. The recovery process must account for the shifting symptoms and will be unique to each person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains “ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.” As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. After an individual consumes alcohol, it is absorbed from the small intestine and stomach into his or her bloodstream and is then metabolized in the liver. The liver, however, is only able to metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, which leaves excess alcohol to circulate throughout one’s body via the bloodstream. There is no universal length of time an individual should abstain from drinking alcohol after a TBI. However, it is important to note that after TBI one’s brain is more sensitive to alcohol. According to information from various studies compiled by Vanderbilt University Medical Center up to two-thirds of people with TBI have a history of alcohol abuse or precarious drinking. Between 30 – 50% of people with TBI were injured while they were drunk. Approximately half of those who have a TBI reduce their alcohol intake or stop altogether after injury, but some people with TBI continue to drink heavily, which exponentially increases their risk of having adverse and in some cases life-threatening outcomes.
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If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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