TBI Survivors and Addiction Risk

Pictured above: Angela Haas, author of blog post

You have likely dealt with substance abuse before, whether it’s in your family, a friend of a friend, or someone you are working with now. If so, you know that substance abuse has an effect on everyone, but that effect is especially dangerous for those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. For brain injury survivors, alcohol and drugs can increase the likelihood of seizures, and can also have dangerous interactions with individuals’ prescribed medications. In addition, alcohol and drugs affect our brains differently, and can have a much more powerful effect on someone with a brain injury. Just as importantly, alcohol and drug use may increase the likelihood of re-injury, as survivors under the influence are more likely to engage in behaviors such as impaired driving, or suffer difficulties with balance or impulsive decision making. Some of the most bothersome cognitive impacts of TBI include issues with decision-making (mentioned above), as well as problem solving, short-term memory, low inhibition, and decreased awareness. Alcohol and drugs can exacerbate all of these symptoms, unquestionably impacting recovery -- which is why complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs is the healthiest and safest choice to aid in brain injury recovery and sustainability.

Risk Factors for Addiction

  • Alcohol/Drug use or dependence prior to obtaining their brain injury
  • History of mood disorders
  • Current depressive disorder or symptoms of depression
  • Addiction to tobacco
  • Family history of addiction
  • Poor social skills
  • Poverty
  • Early use in adolescence
  • Stress at home
  • Unhelpful support group or lack of natural supports
  • Lack of health insurance or access to health care

Questions to ask if you fear that you or someone you love may have an addiction and need support

  • Do they go through withdrawals if/when they stop using?
  • Do they have to take larger amounts or over a longer time period than intended?
  • Has their use resulted in a failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home?
  • Have they continued to use despite continuous problems with using?
  • Have they made unsuccessful attempts to cut down?
  • Do they have cravings, or a strong desire to use?
  • Have they given up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of use?
  • Do they continue to use in situations where it is physically hazardous?
  • Do they continue to use despite knowledge of having physical/psychological dependence?
  • Do they spend a great deal of their time obtaining, using, or recovering from its effects?

Want help?

There are many avenues to find support, whether one has commercial insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or no insurance at all. You can call your local Behavioral Health Authority, and talk to someone who can immediately assess your need for treatment and link you to the appropriate resources. Treatment can involve medical supervision, individual or group therapy, peer support, 12 step recovery, case management, family therapy, and psychiatric services.

Below are several links depending on your need:

If any of these apply to someone you know, show that person that you care, are concerned, and are there to support them! Understand that there are likely reasons they do what they do:

  • Self-medicate for severe/chronic pain from their injuries
  • Cope with the trauma that they have endured
  • Try to combat their symptoms of depression due to a loss they have experienced in their life
  • Escape from their new reality
  • Use due to an underlying mental health condition

You can use the resources above, or contact a professional who can help you get connected. You can also contact the BIAMI staff to help you connect with helpful resources. Stay strong, supportive, and realize that they may be doing the best they can, in this moment, to get through whatever difficulties they may be facing.

Angela M. Haas, LMSW CAADC is a licensed master’s level social worker with her certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor certification. She works with Special Tree Rehabilitation Systems in their outpatient clinic in Midland and Saginaw.

Urge Your Legislator to Vote No on HB 5013

Last Thursday, HB 5013 passed out of committee and now sits on the House floor for a vote. This bill will likely be brought up on the floor for a house vote this week, with a second reading on Wednesday and vote on Thursday. Mayor Duggan, a number prominent Detroit Business men and corporations, and members from the Michigan Chamber are working hard to advance this bill. Additionally, HB 5013 will increase the amount of Medicaid spending by $80 million in ten years.

IT IS TIME TO TAKE ACTION AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

We strongly encourage you to join us at the Capitol and oppose this legislation, which would:

  • Authorize unprecedented dollar cap limitations on no-fault benefits
  • Give insurance companies greater control over patients’ medical care
  • Greatly increases the power of the insurance companies while taking legal rights away from patients
  • Only offers temporary premium rate reductions, if any at all

A strong showing of folks opposing this bill outside the house floor both days is important. Anticipate two long afternoons especially on Thursday. Session on Thursday starts at noon.

We will meet, receive a short update, gather materials and have lunch across the street from the House Office Building at the Central Methodist Church basement, 215 North Capitol from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Wednesday and from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Thursday. Salad, pizza, and beverages will be provided on Wednesday at about 11:45 AM. Lunch on Thursday will be ready about 11:00 AM prior to the start of a noon House session.

We need your help if we are going to make sure this bill is defeated. If able, we strongly encourage you to join us. If you are unable, there are still ways you can help and make your voice heard.

  1. Email your legislators. We’ve provided a pre-written form letter, but feel free to make changes or write your own letter and send it. If you write your own, be sure they know your situation and what you stand to lose if this passes.
  2. Call your legislators. We’ve provided talking points, but feel free to make changes or include your own. Be sure they know your situation and what you stand to lose if this passes.
  3. Use social media to share your position and stories regarding your health care situation and be sure to use the hashtags #ProtectNoFault and #NO5013. Tell your story and let people know that the care being received would be impossible under the Duggan-Leonard plan.

Help us protect defend the system of care critical to so many Michiganders who have been, and unfortunately will be, auto accident survivors and their families.

Urgent Action Needed: No Repeal Without Replacement

We are asking you to contact your federal lawmakers and urge them not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a comprehensive replacement plan. Congress is currently putting forth legislation to repeal the ACA. This is not about political affiliations, but about healthcare coverage continuity for millions of Americans. Any repeal of the ACA without a plan to take its place will negatively affect hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents and millions of Americans. It’s wrong for America and it’s wrong for Michigan.

Here’s why:

  • An immediate repeal would affect roughly 1-in-10 people in Michigan, disproportionately impacting less well-off districts. Without agreement on an immediate replacement, repeal could leave those dependent on ACA for health coverage completely uninsured.
  • ACA repeal without a robust replacement plan could also increase the cost of coverage as younger and healthier Michigan residents opt out of health insurance, further burdening the State to cover those older or with chronic conditions. Furthermore, ACA repeal without a substantive replacement means those with pre-existing conditions will either be denied coverage or face far higher costs for basic coverage. This would affect around 28% of Michigan residents. Michigan citizens should not be forced to choose between their health and bankruptcy.
  • Because the ACA allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they reach age 26, repeal could eliminate coverage for nearly 73,000 young adults in Michigan age 18-26.
  • In Michigan, the Medicaid expansion has had a positive effect on the state’s economy and more than paid for itself. According to a study published by the University of Michigan in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 30,000 new jobs were created every year with 85% of them in the private sector and one-third in a healthcare field. Repealing the ACA without a replacement plan in place would undo all of this and could cost Michigan over 100,000 jobs.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities rely on Medicaid for long-term services an d Cuts, block grants, or per capita cap proposals would hurt these people, who have no other means of paying for the care they need.

Call your U.S. Representative at: (202)225-3121 Call Senator Stabenow at: (202) 224-4822

Call Senator Peters at: (202) 224-6221

Use Engage to email your lawmakers using the sample message:

  1. Go to our Engage site (http://cqrcengage.com/biami/home)
  2. Send the featured letter that’s posted by pressing Take Action
  3. Fill in your information, and add personal details if you would like

Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.

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Eisenhower Center
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