Families affected by alcohol-related brain injuries are often navigating and processing dual challenges – the impact that long term alcohol dependency has had on them as a family unit over a number of years plus the newer stress that understanding, managing, and getting support for a brain injury brings.

Families supporting someone with Alcohol-Related Brain Injury need special consideration. They often present with anger, frustration and sadness as a result of witnessing years of alcohol-dependency and progressive deterioration and feeling helpless in being able to intervene. When the suspicion of Alcohol-Related Brain Injury is added in to the mix, this adds another complexity to the emotional picture – they often develop a sense of guilt and a heightened sense of responsibility – their family member may now be very vulnerable and need a lot of support, and this support is often not readily available.

How can they knit together their need for healing from past experiences plus have the strength to provide support for someone who might need their support now more than ever? This is why family support is so vital for them – To help them heal, have spaces to explore the impact of that person’s substance use on them, the help them process feelings of ‘loss’ when a person is changed by their brain injury.

It is important to recognise that while we call for ‘specialised services’ for ARBI – there are many family members, untrained, unpaid, providing round the clock support for people with this condition – this is why continued advocacy for service development around Alcohol-Related Brain Injury remains so crucially important – and why families cannot be invisible within this.

There can be hope within Alcohol-Related Brain Injury. Many can recover if we identify early and provide the right supports – when we get this right, the relief and unburdening of families is very significant. When we see the family, their needs, their experiences, and proactively work to support these, we offer a crucial outlet for them to come to terms with what can be a lifechanging event.

Click on link to view short video ‘A Sister’s Story’