5 Factors Affecting Alcohol Use After Spinal Cord Injury

Alcoholism is a major problem among those who have suffered a spinal cord injury. It is best that the following factors are quickly determined before the problem becomes worse. In the case of alcohol dependency, the families of the patient can turn to treatment centers for help.

Causes of alcohol dependency after spine injury

The causes of alcohol dependency after a spinal cord injury can be subdivided into two: physiological and psychological.

Physiological Causes

1. Pain

After the treatment of spinal cord injury, patients often suffer from an excess amount of pain. While in the hospital, they are given medication to manage their pain. But as they transition to their home environment, they are slowly weaned out of those painkillers. But not everyone recovers as quickly as those who do. Often times, they still experience residual pain the moment they are discharged.

In some cases, the pain can be managed with less extreme painkillers. But in certain cases, the pain might become too unbearable leading patients to seek different methods of alleviating from the pain, often involving alcohol.

2. Drug dependency

As mentioned previously, after a severe spinal cord injury, the pain felt is often extreme and quite excruciating to the patient. Strong painkillers are used to manage the pain but these drugs have an associated risk of dependency. In order to avoid this, the dosage is carefully monitored by nurses and doctors.

But in some cases, the patient becomes dependent on the painkiller. If proper weaning off of these medications is not followed, patients might not manage their dependency well enough which leads them to seek a replacement. Spinal cord injury patients turn to the most accessible drug as a form of replacement which is alcohol.

Psychological Causes

3. Depression

A spinal cord injury is a serious injury. It can cause a lot of pain to the patient even after treatment. The recovery is long and hard. It often means the patient might have to stop working and take out huge loans in order to continue with their treatment. All these factors contribute to the development of depression among SCI patients.

Once in a depressive mood, they are prone to turn to substance abuse to feel better about themselves or to get rid of the feeling of negativity and doom. The most common substance they turn to is alcohol.

4. Lower satisfaction in life

Imagine a hard-working dad who experienced an injury at work. He had to stop working for his treatment and is totally reliant on his family members for his needs.

Having worked all his adult life, the transition from being the breadwinner to being a patient will surely make him feel like he is not contributing. To suppress such feelings, he may turn to alcohol.

5. Boredom

When you suffer from a spinal cord injury, you are advised to limit your movement. You are either sitting or laying down the whole day, especially in the first few months of recovery.

This can cause a lot of free time that you’re not doing anything. Coupled with the other ailments, the temptation for alcohol and drug abuse is very strong.


Author Bio: Sarah Brooks is an avid blogger. She writes about a variety of topics including health, science, and literature. She is currently working with The Beaches Addiction Treatment Center, a fully accredited & licensed Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center.


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