Brain Injury and Substance Abuse - Part 4

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Wednesday - August 21, 2013.

Here's more information presented by instructors in the  Brain Injury training co-sponsored by the Lancaster County RMO and the Brain Injury Association of PA earlier this year.

Facts about Drug and Alcohol Use and Brain Injury: 


  • 1 out of 2 people with a brain injury has some sort of substance abuse.
    • (abuse rate among the general population is 1 in 10)
  • The adverse effects alcohol and drugs have on a healing mind can be devastating to the quality of life for the brain injury survivor.
  • The brain has to re-learn skills and this process can be inhibited by the consumption of alcohol and drugs, slowing the recovery.
  • The brain is more sensitive to alcohol and other drugs after a brain injury.

(SOURCE: ACBIS, The Essential Brain Injury Guide, 2007)

Facts about Brain Injury and Substance Abuse within the Criminal Justice System 

  • Inmates with one or more head injuries have significantly higher levels of alcohol and/or drug use during the year preceding their current incarceration
  • The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that:  

    • 52% of female offenders and 41% of male offenders were under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both at the time of their arrest

    • 64% of male arrestees tested positive for at least one of five illicit drugs (cocaine, opioids, marijuana, methamphetamines, or PCP)
  • More than half of prison inmates have a lifetime history of drug use disorders
  • Fewer than 15% receive substance abuse treatment services while in prison

 (SOURCE: CDC Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Criminal Justice Professionals) 


About the Author

Melanie G. Snyder

Melanie G. Snyder

Melanie G. Snyder serves as the Executive Director of the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO). She was a featured TEDx speaker at the first-ever TEDx event in Lancaster. 

She is an NIC-certified Offender Workforce Development Specialist, a certified Global Career Development Facilitator, and a certified instructor for the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Healing Communities model. She is also a trained restorative justice mediator.

Prior to Melanie's involvement with the RMO, she spent several years researching and writing the book Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of Hope and Humanity (Brethren Press, 2009), which tells the true story of a woman who volunteered in Pennsylvania's state prisons for over 30 years, creating inmate education and reentry programs based on principles of restorative justice. After Grace Goes to Prison was published, Melanie traveled throughout the United States, doing speaking engagements and meeting with other reentry and restorative justice professionals to discuss criminal justice issues and exchange information and ideas.