Posted on March 14, 2013 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 23 of 36 in the series Zachary

TBI Relationship Gap: Zach Part Twenty Three 

Zach and I discussed the TBI relationship Gap and how alcohol didn’t not replace his girlfriend.  Alcohol did not mend the gap for Zach.

When you break up, now you’re a sophomore, beginning of your sophomore year. 


Do you try to replace her in your life, try to fill the TBI relationship gap or do you just go on with whatever?

Yeah, I do.  I try to replace her with alcohol.  I started drinking.

And would that have been before school started again?

I broke up with her right when school started and then I started to drink a little bit, you know.

So tell me about that.

Well, I just went on a tear for like two months. I was drinking and doing stuff, doing dumb stuff again.  Then where it all kind of stops, like me realizing that drinking’s not okay:

I went to D.C., Washington, D.C. to see my friend, my friend in college.  Were there, I get really, really, really drunk. I just, I fall down some stairs going outside and land on the concrete.  But luckily I hit the railing with my ear so it kind of broke my fall from landing right on my head.  So I cut the inside of my ear, so the blood coming all..  My friend had to wrap his shirt around my head and walked back, it was bad.

And his girlfriend was like yelling at me, like why are you doing this to yourself, you know?  And this is one of my good friends from high school and all this stuff. I’m like:  “Drinking’s the only time I’m happy.  I got all this stuff.”  And she’s like: “Look at yourself. Are you really happy?”

When she said that and I’m like: “You’re right.” That just clicked for me.  I’m like, “no more.”

The obvious, you fell down. From alcohol trying to fill the TBI relationship gap .  Did you have other exaggerations of symptoms or behavior issues while you were drinking? 

No.  Not really.  No.

To view:

The dangers of alcohol after TBI are legion.  One neuropsychologist I know calls it the “six pack” effect. Two beers equals a six pack.  The brain is more susceptible to the intoxication because it works for much less efficiently. The balance system in most cases is more compromised than may be documented.  The motor system is likely also subtlety compromised.  As Zach’s doctor had warned him when initially discharged from rehab, “Drink and you will forget how to walk.”  Zach apparently forgot at least how to go down stairs.

Then there are the behavioral amplifications, that can be even more dangerous.  Anger, disinhibition, mistakes in judgment occur far more frequently after a brain injury. Alcohol will amplify all of those problems rather than fill the TBI relationship gap .  Then add those elements into the kind of environment where Zach was drinking, and the chances of a fight, even a beating go up exponentially.

Zach got it.  Zach got that drinking was not going to fill the TBI relationship gap.  But probably just in time.

Next in Part Twenty Four –

Dating and Social Life After Severe TBI


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447