Substance abuse and medical complications following spinal cord injury

Darlene A. Hawkins*, Allen Walter Heinemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations


This study examined relationships between medical complications resulting in hospital stays and alcohol and illicit substance use in 71 persons with recent spinal cord injury (SCI). At 5 intervals after injury, medical records were reviewed for pressure ulcers and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Abstainers with histories of drinking problems before SCI were at greater risk for UTIs from 7 to 12 months after injury and for longer hospital stays. Former drinkers may not have implemented the self-care skills that were a focus during inpatient rehabilitation. Preinjury illicit substance abuse was related to an increased risk of pressure ulcers 30 months after SCI. Clinical implications are clear: Psychologists should inquire about substance use patterns, monitor psychological well-being, and explore the ways in which self-care habits are related to substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-231
Number of pages13
JournalRehabilitation Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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