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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can you drink alcohol if you suffer from a brain injury?                  

    I suffered from a brain injury after a car accident a year ago and would like to know if i am able to consume alcohol?
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  • 1

    Thanks

    Gail Rogers

    Speech Pathologist

    Gail's passionate interest in working in the area of voice, communication & swallowing challenges developed after working as Speech and Language Pathologist with many different clientele in various … View Profile

    Most doctors recommend clients with acquired brain injuries to have 12 months alcohol free post-trauma.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Dr Nicholas Bradfield

    Clinical Neuropsychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Bradfield is a Clinical Neuropsychologist working in private practice and in the public health system in Melbourne, Australia. He has clinical experience conducting neuropsychological … View Profile

    Alcohol in the early stages after a brain injury can slow down spontanteous recovery of neurons (brain cells).  This may reduce the amount of cognitive recovery after the brain injury.

    Given that the asker of the question is 12 months post injury, most of the spontaneous healing of your brain has probably occurred.  I would recommend not consuming alcohol at all until you consult with a medical doctor.  

    While considering this, please note the following points below: 

    People with an acquired brain injury can be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.  That is, they may require less alcohol to become intoxicated or may become more intoxicated with the same amount of alcohol they would previously drink.  If you are determined to consume alcohol now that you are 12 months after your accident, start very slowly with minimal amounts such as a single standard drink under the supervision of a sobre and responsible person.  Depending on the severity of your initial injury, you may experience an exaggerated response to even a couple of standard drinks of alcohol such as slurred speech, unsteady walking and balance, black outs and disinhibition. 

    Alcohol consumption can cause cognitive impairment and brain injury by itself and can worsen cognition in a person who already has an acquired brain injury.  The Australian Goverment guidelines for the general population recommended no more than two standard drinks on any one occasion and at least two alcohol-free days per week.   There are no formal guidelines for people with an acquired brain injury. 

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