Research Reports - Examining the relationship between traumatic brain injury and substance use outcomes

Subst Use Misuse. 2016 Aug 2:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]

Allen S(1), Stewart SH(1,)(2), Cusimano M(3), Asbridge M(1).

BACKGROUND: The literature has opposing views regarding the magnitude of the
association between substance use and TBI. Most studies have examined clinical
samples which are not representative of the entire head injured population.
Clinical samples provide very limited insight into TBI patients whom do not seek
OBJECTIVES: This paper examines the associations between TBI and substance
use/misuse. Its primary aim is to test whether or not individuals with a
past-year TBI have higher rates of substance use/misuse than Canadians without a
TBI or back and/or spine injury controls drawing on self-report population level
METHODS: Using the 2009-2010 Canadian Community Health Survey, a nationally
representative cross-sectional survey of Canadians 12 years and older, this paper
assessed substance use (i.e., illicit drug use; drinking and binge drinking;
current smoking) among those with a TBI, as compared to two control groups: (1)
individuals with a back or spinal injury (BSI); and (2) healthy noninjured
controls. Multivariate regressions (logistic and multinomial), both unadjusted
and adjusting for a range of injury and sociodemographic covariates, were used in
hypothesis testing.
RESULTS: Those with a past-year TBI demonstrated significantly elevated rates of
illicit drug use relative to non-injured Canadians. Relative to the BSI group
those with a TBI were less likely to drink alcohol, did not differ in binge
drinking, cigarette smoking and illicit drug use.
CONCLUSION: Health care professionals working with the TBI population should
integrate screening, brief intervention, and referral programming as a means to
reduce future harm related to substance misuse. 

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