Brain Injuries and Substance Abuse

Posted By: Tony Baratta | September 12th, 2019

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury that may have long-term consequences.   It is invisible.    It can’t be seen on an x-ray.    It can be interpreted as a personality defect by others and as a sense of failure by the victim.   Getting the proper treatment must be a priority in every TBI.

Research has taught us that many people suffering from a substance abuse disorder (i.e. Opioid addiction, alcoholism) have a past history of an inadequately treated traumatic brain injury (i.e. concussion).

Amongst individuals with a substance abuse disorder, it is estimated that 40% have a history of a traumatic brain injury.

People with a history of TBI have risk factors making them susceptible to substance abuse:

  • more frequent headaches
  • more likely to experience chronic pain
  • more likely to be prescribed opioids
  • increased impulsive behavior making it difficult to self-regulate behavior (this is due to the damage to the executive function part of the brain during the TBI)

Substance abuse can then increase the risk of future brain injury due to possible falls, car accidents or, with opioid overdoses, anoxic (loss of oxygen to the brain) events.

It is extremely important therefore that anyone with a diagnosed TBI get the appropriate treatment to avoid greater injury.

About the Author

Anthony J. Baratta (Tony) is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 50 cases to Juries in State and Federal Courts and has litigated thousands of personal injury and medical malpractice cases in his 30-year career. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and an active board member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is also on the board for the Philadelphia VIP and performs pro bono work for the Laurel House, a non-profit for victims of domestic abuse. In addition, Tony is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys, voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers for the past 14 years, and a 2018 recipient of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Award for the Civil Trial Division.

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