Substance use and mild traumatic brain injury risk reduction and prevention: a novel model for treatment

Rehabil Res Pract. 2012;2012:174579. doi: 10.1155/2012/174579. Epub 2012 May 17.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and substance use disorders (SUDs) frequently co-occur. Individuals with histories of alcohol or other drug use are at greater risk for sustaining TBI, and individuals with TBI frequently misuse substances before and after injury. Further, a growing body of literature supports the relationship between comorbid histories of mild TBI (mTBI) and SUDs and negative outcomes. Alcohol and other drug use are strongly associated with risk taking. Disinhibition, impaired executive function, and/or impulsivity as a result of mTBI also contribute to an individual's proclivity towards risk-taking. Risk-taking behavior may therefore, be a direct result of SUD and/or history of mTBI, and risky behaviors may predispose individuals for subsequent injury or continued use of substances. Based on these findings, evaluation of risk-taking behavior associated with the co-occurrence of SUD and mTBI should be a standard clinical practice. Interventions aimed at reducing risky behavior among members of this population may assist in decreasing negative outcomes. A novel intervention (Substance Use and Traumatic Brain Injury Risk Reduction and Prevention (STRRP)) for reducing and preventing risky behaviors among individuals with co-occurring mTBI and SUD is presented. Areas for further research are discussed.