There are options available to survivors who struggle with problematic substance use.
Meeting with a counsellor
Counselling is a positive step towards overcoming problematic substance use. They can provide one-on-one help and give concrete advice and practical tips towards change. Counselling is also beneficial for individuals with a brain injury who are learning to cope with the changes in their lives.
Many cities have local help groups for substance use. These groups are designed to offer a supportive environment for people with a living experience of substance use. Local healthcare professionals should be able to provide you with more information about support in your specific area and whether or not they can support your specific needs post-injury.
For those who need a different environment, residential rehabilitation centres are available. There are both private and public addiction centres in Canada. While public centres are free, they have long wait times. Private centres involve out-of-pocket expenses.
Please remember: not every centre will be equipped to meet the needs of a person with problematic substance use and brain injury. It’s important to work with a medical team to find the best course of treatment and create a support plan.
Supervised consumption sites
Problematic drug use is a complex issue with no easy solution. Many people struggle to stop. This is where supervised consumption sites can be useful. They are a place for people looking to stop or reduce their drug use, and research shows they are effective at improving health and saving lives.
Along with offering a safe place for consumption, supervised consumption sites have screening services to catch potential contaminants, access to emergency services, testing for diseases/infections, and referrals/information on treatment (Source: Government of Canada).
Everyone is affected when a loved one experiences an opioid overdose. Caregivers want to help but often don’t know how best to do it. This leads to feelings of guilt, grief, anxiety, and even resentment. This can be damaging to their mental health and their relationship with the survivor.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has published a guide on addiction that includes chapters on addiction and caregivers/families. These chapters cover tips for helping your loved one, taking care of your own health and well-being, and maintaining your relationship.
For more information on brain injury and caregiving, visit the following pages.
- About brain injury – causes and symptoms
- Mental health and brain injury
- Caring for the caregiver – taking care of yourself while taking care of others
- From Canada.ca: a complete list of substance use support services available by province/territory.
- Learn about opioids and health risks from Canada.ca
- Awareness resources about opioids from the Government of Canada
- How to discuss substance use – a guide by Canada.ca
- The Acquired Brain Injury Partnership Project has an informative video on substance use and brain injury.
- Addiction – An Information Guide provided by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for people with substance use problems and their families/friends.
- Find a branch of the Canada Mental Health Association
- HelpGuide.org’s practical tips for overcoming addiction
- The Substance Use and Brain Injury Project
- You and Substance Use Workbook by HeretoHelp BC
- Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit Please note this is Ontario specific, but the information is applicable Canada-wide.
Disclaimer: There is no shortage of web-based online medical diagnostic tools, self-help or support groups, or sites that make unsubstantiated claims around diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Please note these sources may not be evidence-based, regulated or moderated properly and it is encouraged for individuals to seek advice and recommendations regarding diagnosis, treatment, and symptom management from a regulated healthcare professional such as a physician or nurse practitioner. Individuals should be cautioned about sites that make any of the following statements or claims that:
- The product or service promises a quick fix
- Sound too good to be true
- Are dramatic or sweeping and are not supported by reputable medical and scientific organizations.
- Use of terminology such as “research is currently underway” or “preliminary research results” which indicate there is no current research.
- The results or recommendations of a product or treatment are based on a single or small number of case studies and has not been peer-reviewed by external experts
- Use of testimonials from celebrities or previous clients/patients that are anecdotal and not evidence-based
Always proceed with caution and with the advice of your medical team.