Veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be be plagued with problems when they come home and try to adjust to life back in the states. Researchers have discovered one possible reason for that.
A recent study of military members found that those who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at a higher risk for addiction-related disorders, according to Medical Research News.
At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, researcher Casserly Whitehead and his team determined that mild TBI led to a greater risk for alcohol dependence up to 180 days after the injury, “and an increased risk for nondependent abuse of drugs or alcohol, and nicotine dependence with the first 30 days,” Medical Research News wrote.
The findings we re published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Medical Research News quoted the authors of the study.
“Given the increasing emphasis and awareness of mild TBI in both military and civilian populations, these findings may have far-reaching clinical and military readiness implications,” the authors wrote.
The study involved more than 5,000 active-duty airmen who had suffered mild TBI that had left them unconscious, confused, disoriented and with memory loss for a period of time. They were compared to 44,733 airmen who had suffered other kinds off injuries, Medical Research News reported.
The bottom line is that those with the mild TBI had an increased risk for alcohol dependence at the first 30; 31 to 179; and 180 days after being diagnosed than those in the comparison group, according to Medical Research News.
“Any alcohol or drug use after TBI is concerning given the potential for reduction in spontaneous healing, risk of seizure or repeat TBI, and exacerbation of residual cognitive, emotional and behavioral impairments,” the study’s authors wrote, said Medical Research News.
“Screening for addiction-related disorders should be considered as part of routine care for mild TBI and might best capture the first 30 days post-mild TBI, with repeat alcohol screening thereafter for at least six months following the injury,” the research authors wrote.