Brain injury and alcohol

Recently GrogWatch received this correspondence from Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer, Brain Injury Australia.

Acquired brain injury can be caused by stroke, by trauma, by infection, by neurological diseases like Parkinson’s or Huntington’s. And by alcohol and other drug abuse.

I think it’s fair to say that advocates like myself have done a lousy job – really, no job at all – when it comes to raising awareness about alcohol and other drug-related brain injury in adults.

Few people would dispute Australians’ vexed relationship with alcohol and other drugs. Nearly half of all alcohol is consumed at levels that pose risks to long-term health, inclusive of brain injury. But when it comes to raising awareness about brain injury with the wider community, our poster children of choice have tended to be the young man, the motor vehicle accident, the workplace accident.

Brain Injury Australia has recently revised its definition of acquired brain injury – any damage to the brain that occurs after birth – to include Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

We did this for two reasons.

Firstly, it just didn’t make any diagnostic common sense for an organisation like Brain Injury Australia to advocate for adults whose brain injury is the result of alcohol abuse but then exclude the passive drinking of the unborn.

Secondly, Brain Injury Australia will “use” the neurotoxic effects of alcohol in children to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol over-consumption more broadly.

Starting with Brain Injury Australia’s third annual fundraiser – held during the month formerly known as September – Sidetember”. Men are invited to grow and shape their sideburns during the month of September to raise vital funds to support the work of Brain Injury Australia. Their sisters, wives, mothers, girlfriends and partners are urged to (financially) back them and (artistically) groom them.