Traumatic Brain Injury In Childhood Linked To Increased Risk of Future Alcohol Abuse
A new analytic study of past research found that traumatic brain injuries in childhood increase the risk of alcohol misuse later in life.
According to the authors, children who experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are less likely to finish school and have difficulties holding down a job. They also have a greater chance of being diagnosed with a mental illness or neurological condition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2009 to 2010, children under four years of age had the highest rate of brain injuries for all age groups. Yearly, children under the age of 14 visit the emergency room nearly 500,000 times for causes related to a TBI.
Brain Injuries in Childhood And Adult Alcohol Misuse
Evidence revealing a correlation between alcohol consumption and incurring a brain injury is well-established; that is, around half of all TBIs are alcohol-related. However, little research has been done to investigate if there is a heightened risk for alcohol misuse later in life for those who suffer from a childhood TBI.
For the study, researchers examined past research and discovered a strong association between a childhood TBI event and future substance abuse. Indeed, children under five years of age who suffer from a TBI are more than three times as likely as others to engage in substance abuse in their teens.
Why Do TBIs Increase The Risk Of Substance Abuse?
Study authors suggest that the negative consequences of a TBI, including difficulties with school, employment, and relationships are risk factors alcohol misuse. Also, a TBI may alter the brain – for example, many sufferers become more impulsive.
Chemical changes in the brain could also be impacted by a traumatic brain injury, such as fluctuations in dopamine levels and other critical neurotransmitters. Finally, research has also found that TBI can cause brain inflammation. Alcohol can also contribute to inflammation, and some animal studies have revealed that inflammation can fuel problem drinking.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology