Most rehabilitation specialists will advise against drinking alcohol for at least one to two years after brain injury, or even indefinitely.
The body uses essential vitamins and minerals to break down alcohol, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies when alcohol intake is excessive. There is also a risk of further injury when a person with brain injury is under the influence of alcohol. For those who choose to drink alcohol after a period of time, it should be in moderation. Family members can observe any negative impacts, such as worsening behaviours or other impairments.
Because alcohol and other drugs affect a person’s ability to think clearly and control emotions and behaviour, they can interact badly with the effects of a brain injury.
People who already had a dependence on alcohol or other drugs prior to injury might continue to struggle with this after, and in some cases it can become a bigger problem. While, for others, drug use can become a problem for the first time as they struggle with the many changes that come with a traumatic brain injury or other type of brain disorder. Potential issues include:
- negative interactions with prescribed medications
- higher risk of brain injury from overdose and alcohol poisoning
- worsening of cognitive problems (e.g. memory, concentration)
- reduced social skills
- increased depression, anger and emotional ups and downs
- impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour
- problems with physical coordination
- Increased challenging