DURHAM – For years, Laurie Branchaud lived in fear of a phone call.
“I was scared every day,” she says. Her son Ryan was struggling with opioid addiction and she dreaded a call from authorities telling her he had overdosed and died.
“I always used to say he would turn around or he would die. There were two options. I never thought of the middle option.”
While Ryan Branchaud did eventually overdose, he survived due to medical intervention but sustained a severe brain injury.
His story and others are featured in the upcoming New Hampshire PBS documentary ROADS TO RECOVERY: OVERDOSE AND BRAIN INJURY that will premiere Thursday, Sept. 5 at 8 p.m.
The latest in a series of programs on substance misuse and recovery in New Hampshire, this installment investigates how brain injury can result from an overdose and how it can complicate addiction treatment.
A recent increase in brain injuries among overdose survivors is partially a result of improved medical treatment of overdoses. While the injuries are not always severe, they can complicate the treatment and recovery process.
“Brain injury symptoms can be misinterpreted as ‘they’re not really trying,’” says Lindy Keller, a Treatment and Recovery Specialist with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. “If this person has had multiple overdoses they may be trying as hard as they can, but they’re limited in their capacity.”
John Corrigan, a psychologist at Ohio State University, concurs, “One of my missions is to help substance use professionals to understand the importance of knowing what the brain injury history is of the person across from them.” Corrigan notes that an individual with a brain injury often requires greater support, over a longer period of time, from providers, friends and family. “When you think treatment is over, it’s not.”
ROADS TO RECOVERY: OVERDOSE AND BRAIN INJURY will premiere Thursday, September 5th at 8pm on New Hampshire PBS. More information and recovery resources are available atnhpbs.org/recovery.
Funding for ROADS TO RECOVERY: OVERDOSE AND BRAIN INJURY is provided by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health and the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire.
About New Hampshire PBS: New Hampshire PBS inspires one million Granite Staters each month with engaging and trusted local and national programs and services on-air, online, via mobile, in classrooms and in communities. Beyond its award-winning television programs, New Hampshire PBS is a leader in education and community engagement. www.nhpbs.org