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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



Drunk or brain injury? Can you tell the difference?

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There are more people living with brain injuries than the public realise. This invisible disability is therefore not really understood which can make survivors lives more difficult. Just as those with conditions such as dyslexia used to be labelled as stupid, until it’s existence was better recognised. Some survivors who are trying to lead a normal life are being mistaken for being drunk. This can result in them being asked to leave pubs/bars, or even being arrested. But whilst we wait for public understanding to catch up, there could be a simple solution…..

Why brain injury survivors are being mistaken for being drunk.

Staff in the hospitality sector have seen all too often the affects of intoxication. And they are left with the responsibility of trying to manage customers and stop serving them alcohol before it affects their behaviour too badly. Unfortunately, frequently this is without having the opportunity to get to know the individual. So mistakes happen. Even the police can make the same errors. There have been cases of brain injury survivors being arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

The problem is, as with other medical conditions, having a brain injury can mimic drunk behaviour.

Too often brain injury survivors are mistaken as drunk & discriminated against. But why does this happen? This could be the answer to avoid it ....

Too often brain injury survivors are mistaken as drunk and discriminated against. But why does this happen? This could be the answer to avoid it .....

Recently Former Royal Marine Tom Birch, was interviewed about how he has been arrested several times in various countries. He sustained a brain injury whilst serving in Afghanistan back in 2006. But through a lack of awareness and understanding, he has been detained for being drunk and disorderly. His injury means he can become frustrated easily, and so when staff refuse to serve him the situation can quickly escalate.

Whilst the card can not explain everything, it is a tool to help that could make the difference for some individuals. Click here to watch Toms interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.

If you live in the UK, you are over 18 with a verifiable brain injury,  I recommend you apply for the card. You can add your photograph and have a couple to lines to describe some of the symptoms. It’s a good idea to pick symptoms they might be confusing for intoxication or anti-social behaviour. You can’t list everything, so this snapshot might help them recognise your condition. To apply for the Brain injury identification card click here.

I don’t blame staff as it is confusing.

As drugs or alcohol temporary affect the way the brain is working, it’s understandable that people can mistake survivors behaviour for intoxication. The majority of the time, that is probably what they are witnessing. In many countries they are held responsible for the safety of patrons, by refusing to serve anyone they suspect has had enough. They are trying to look after the welfare of the many, and they shouldn’t ever be discouraged from doing so. As this is an invisible disability, lets help them by using these sorts of tools.  Everyone benefits. We can decrease the likelihood of feeling discriminated against, staff can remain vigilant, and fellow customers can know staff will be able to act when necessary.

What tools do you use to show it's your brain injury, not that you are drunk? Are there other suggestions you have that could help?


10 replies on “Drunk or brain injury? Can you tell the difference?”

Later in the day I am rather slurry….At least when I get the initial strange look from admitting I have an ABI, I tell them I’m not inebriated, I just sound slurry. I’ve found drunk people don’t use words like inebriated. Cheers,H

It has happened to me a few times. I think speech requires a lot of brain power because I only slur my words when my brain feels totally exhausted

I was slurring all the time to begin with, but now I’m like you, it’s just when I’m tired.

A number of years ago I got pulled over coming home from a party, and they thought I was drunk, so went to doctor and got a card made up, well a doctors note that I laminated sayin, ” Rick D has TBI, he can appear intoxicated with slurred speech and gait instability. He is registered with the state of NJ as having TBI, there is no time frame that this letter will be invalid.
This was after I got brought to the station, and had to blow and the such, but I only had very little, so it ended up showing like a point .000000000001. But they thought I was done, drunk?

That must have been awkward for you. Hope the card has helped avoid something like that happening again.

I have a medical alert bracelet that has my name, Brain injury, and brief description of my deficits. When I have difficulty speaking and stumble, I show the bracelet and people are aware of my situation.

Thanks Pat, yes I think that is a good place to start. I have heard of situations where people think some (especially young men) just where them to excuse their behaviour seeing as they are easy to get hold of. This card gives that extra bit of security.

My TBI impacted child has a bracelet that says:
Child name
Traum Brain Injury
Mom (phone#)
Dad (phone#)
because it’s not always easy to explain and if someone has to look at the medical bracelet then I want to know she may need help. I didn’t write TBI because I felt it needed to be clearer that there is a history of brain injury – and traum ia abbreviated because there are only so many characters available on the bracelet. Even as an adult, I think she may keep my number on it as it’s just much easier on her when she’s already dealing with symptoms causing concern and is in a state unable to explain herself easily.

There are more elegant bracelet designs now than just the standard medical bracelet so she has one for general use and another for fancier occasions.

That is a responsible and supportive thing to do for your child. You’re absolutely right that it will help strangers assess the situation better if a situation occurs.

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