BRAIN WAVES

Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

Addressing Substance Misuse and Addiction in Disability Community

Online toolbox is a resource for Arizona families, survivors, and professionals

“Our purpose is three-fold,” said Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Board Chair and integrative health professional Julie Rake, “The Brain Injury Alliance aims to raise awareness, to prevent future brain injuries from substance misuse, and to help those who struggle with addiction after brain injury to find recovery.”

Addressing Substance Misuse and Addiction in Disability Community

Online toolbox is a resource for Arizona families, survivors, and professionals

While the news remains dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, another scourge continues to quietly claim lives and wreak havoc on families from the shadows. The Opioid Overdose Crisis was declared a public emergency in 2017 and seems to have been fueled by the financial upheaval, isolation, and disconnected feeling that social unrest and the Coronavirus Pandemic have brought in 2020. Past attempts to address substance misuse or what was formerly called “addiction” have painted broad strokes that left out large portions of the population, including the disability community.

There is hope and help on the way. For the first time, thanks to a partnership between Mercy Care and the Brain Injury Alliance, the disability community—and specifically those with cognitive impairment—are receiving appropriately tailored messages, training, and screenings. With resources, training, support groups, professional workgroups and online tools designed by the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, the statewide nonprofit has set their sights on the intersection between brain injury and substance misuse. “Our purpose is three-fold,” said Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Board Chair and integrative health professional Julie Rake, “The Brain Injury Alliance aims to raise awareness, to prevent future brain injuries from substance misuse, and to help those who struggle with addiction after brain injury to find recovery.”

“Our purpose is three-fold,” said Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Board Chair and integrative health professional Julie Rake, “The Brain Injury Alliance aims to raise awareness, to prevent future brain injuries from substance misuse, and to help those who struggle with addiction after brain injury to find recovery.”

 In the past healthcare professionals, such as Rake, and families were at an impasse on how to assist survivors of cognitive impairment and substance misuse issues. “Now we can say to substance misuse survivors and families that there are wrap around services where someone understands the uniqueness of these two worlds,” Rake said.  She often works with veterans, first responders, and those who have survived trauma and has seen first-hand how recovery needs a customized approach and tools.

A key element of this effort is the creation of a brand new “Brain Injury and Substance Misuse” online toolbox on the BIAAZ.org website. This landing page is created with the intention to provide information and access to resources for anyone affected by opioid or other addictions, and the professionals who work with them. The page includes informative statistics, related articles, and a calendar with relevant upcoming BIAAZ events.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona wants this new landing page to become a major hub of information and resources for all of Arizona.  “In designing it, what we had in mind was to improve the lives of survivors and those at-risk in our state,” said Liz Bradley, the family and recovery support specialist for the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona.  Her position was one added by the partnership with Mercy Care through the state Medicaid system.  “This is uncharted territory here. I’m very proud of our work here, but this is only the beginning,” Bradley said.

The team aims for the page to be an ever-evolving living document and the centerpiece of a community of people working together for a better future for everyone affected by brain injury or addiction. Liz Bradley also runs a statewide workgroup on addiction and brain injury for professionals that examines and advances best practices in screening and treatment.  “The Venn diagram of these two populations, when you look at where it overlaps, it is huge but overlooked,” said Bradley. “I think this is a giant leap toward progress, and the team is just getting started!”

The new landing page also takes a deep dive into more specific information and populations vulnerable to substance use disorder, including:

  • People struggling with substance use
  • Brain injury survivors who have an opioid prescription
  • Those who have survived an opioid overdose in the past
  • Family members and friends of people struggling with addiction
  • Substance misuse and recovery professionals
  • Military and veteran-specific opioid information.

The page includes information, resources, downloadable materials, and relevant videos. Site visitors will also find request forms for free counseling sessions with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who understands brain injury and substance misuse, transportation passes, medication lock boxes, Naloxone overdose rescue kits and firearm safety locks. “We wanted to get tools into people’s hands to immediately produce better outcomes for their family,” said Rake. “To those who are struggling in the shadow, please reach out.”

Anyone in Arizona who is affected by brain injury, substance misuse, or both is encouraged to reach out directly to
info@BIAAZ.org to learn about free resources and support

ABOUT BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF ARIZONA

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness and education. BIAAZ also houses the Arizona Brain Health Resource Center, a collection of educational information and neuro-specific resources for brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members and professionals.

What began in 1983 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with all types of brain trauma at no charge.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona:

  • Works with Congressional Brain Injury Task Force
  • Houses Arizona Brain Health Resource Center
  • Hosts Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Workgroup
  • Has Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Response team with peer support, training, and family wraparound services
  • Facilitates Brain Health Advisory Council
  • Manages statewide Neuro Info-Line: 888-500-9165

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