National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Comorbidity of mental disorders and substance use: a brief guide for the primary care clinician

12.6 Does brain injury impact on treatment approaches to mental disorders and substance use?

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12.6.1 Approaches to substance use

Every brain injury affects individuals in different ways. It is difficult to predict the full extent of the injury and the effects it may have on different neurotransmitter and metabolic systems. The effect of continued substance use following brain injury is also difficult to predict. However, there is evidence that levels of dysfunction are worse in those who have had a history of pre-brain injury substance-use disorders, (for instance alcohol), who relapse following brain injury(508).

In addition, a level of substance use that may be regarded as ‘low risk’ in the general population may carry a significantly higher risk for a person who has experienced a brain injury:
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12.6.2 Approaches to mental disorders

Available evidence on the treatment of mental disorders following brain injury is scarce. Studies are generally uncontrolled and have mixed results. An overlap between brain injury sequelae and the features of mental disorder will inevitably have implications for diagnosis and treatment planning.

Treatment is usually based on what works best from clinical experience(522).
For further information please consult:

Alcohol related brain injury: A guide for general practitioners and other health workers(528)

Clinical practice guidelines for the care of people living with traumatic brain injury in the community(529):

Brain Injury Australia:

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