After Brain Injury: Alcohol Use

After brain injury, you want to get back to life as it used to be as soon as possible. For most adults, that includes enjoying an alcoholic beverage, at least occasionally. Those who did not drink before a brain injury may turn to alcohol to relieve some of the effects of brain injury, including chronic pain, sleep disorders, and depression. Unfortunately, alcohol use works against you brain’s ability to heal and can make the effects of brain injury even worse.

The Healing Brain

The biggest reason to avoid alcohol after a brain injury is that it can slow down recovery or stop it altogether. People who drink after brain injury heal more slowly and do not recover as fully. This is a catch-22 for many brain injury victims, because it is very common for them to drink to escape the suffering they experience due to their injuries, but brain injury recovery is what they need in order for those symptoms to go away permanently.


Brain injuries greatly increase your likelihood for having seizures. Drinking after brain injury increases the risk of seizure even more. Prolonged seizures can cause further brain injury. People who are at very high risk of having a seizure after brain injury may receive anti-seizure medication. Alcohol keeps this medicine from working properly.

Reacting Differently

Another issue you need to be aware of is that brain injury can change the way you react to alcohol. You have fewer healthy, functioning brain cells, and they are overworked. Brain injury typically lowers tolerance to alcohol, meaning you may get drunk much faster than you are accustomed to. Many people with brain injuries have behavioral problems when intoxicated that they didn’t experience before. This can include aggression and antisocial behavior.