Addiction Treatment for Those with Physical Disabilities

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 out of every 4 adults has a disability. The most common disability is a cognitive limitation, such as difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.1 In addition to cognitive challenges, many Americans experience physical, visual, and auditory disabilities, as well as disabilities related to self-care and independent living.1

This article will focus on the addiction treatment barriers that individuals with disabilities can face, as well as the ways the treatment industry has developed specialized care to address their needs best.

Addiction and Physical Disabilities

Individuals who suffer from physical disabilities may be at a higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse. The National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) reports that around half of those who suffer from disabilities may also abuse substances. This is in comparison to about 10% of the general population. Disabled World reports that people who struggle with mobility disabilities like spinal cord injuries, amputations, vision impairment, orthopedic disability, deafness, arthritis, or multiple sclerosis (MS), may be between 2 and 4 times more likely to  abuse drugs or be heavy alcohol drinkers.3

A genetic history of addiction can also trigger problematic drug and alcohol abuse. Emotional trauma, high-stress levels, and environmental factors all play a role in the onset of addiction.4 Physical disabilities may present additional risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse.5 These include the following:

  • Enabling by family or society: Loved ones may allow the person to “have their vices” as a result of their disability and to remain dependent on substances.
  • Inadequate treatment: Individuals who suffer from physical disabilities may not receive the proper emotional and physical support necessary to learn healthy coping skills.
  • Improper preventative services: Individuals may not be fully educated regarding the dangers of misusing medications, drug, and/or alcohol use and abuse.
  • Self-medication: Individuals may self-medicate untreated pain, mental or physical discomfort, emotional distress, or health issues. They may use substances to escape reality or as stress relief.

Drug and alcohol misuse can complicate treatment for a physical disability by interfering with medications and also with rehabilitation, therapy, and counseling sessions.6 The reverse is also true. A physical disability may disrupt and complicate addiction treatment and recovery. Therefore, alcohol and drug rehab for the disabled should be comprehensive and needs to include specialized services that attend to both the physical and emotional needs of the co-occurring disorders.

Treatment Barriers for Those With Disabilities

Finding addiction treatment for the disabled can be difficult, as there are several additional treatment barriers that they may face. These can include accessibility issues and social stigma surrounding the addiction.

From an accessibility standpoint, many treatment centers do not meet the requirements necessary to accommodate individuals with disabilities. For instance, those in a wheelchair require additional supports, such as ramps, elevators, and hallways/doorways that are wide enough to pass through. Individuals with visual impairments need braille signs and other sensory navigational features. Hearing-impaired individuals often require an interpreter and TTY options over the phone. Unfortunately, not all treatment centers have these accommodations, and they can take time to establish.

In addition to accommodations being unavailable, lack of cultural sensitivity and social stigma can make it difficult for individuals with disabilities to receive proper addiction treatment.8 This means that now more than ever, the presence of staff members and medical providers who are specially trained to care for individuals with both addiction and one or more disabilities is crucial.

Personalized Addiction Treatment for Disabilities

Addiction treatment generally includes detox services, relapse prevention, educational programs, therapy, counseling, and support groups. For someone with a disability, the map of addiction recovery is often structured a little differently.

SAMHSA Treatment Protocol points out that while a facility needs to accommodate a physical disability, it should not enable the individual either.9 Making proper accommodations simply means treatment is provided equally for anyone, including those who have limitations. Maneuvering throughout a facility is important, but so too is learning how to cope with and manage situations that might be mentally difficult. Therapies can be effective in teaching methods for managing daily life concurrent with living with a disability.

Therapy and counseling provided during treatment can help disabled people learn new strategies for becoming more self-reliant, which can breed self-confidence and help minimize drug and alcohol use. Individuals are taught how to draw on their strengths instead of dwelling on any physical inadequacies.

To create the most robust and dynamic treatment plan, the best approach is for medical providers, therapists, counselors, and addiction treatment specialists to work together. This allows for a plan to be created that both support addiction recovery and addresses the management of the patient’s disability. This can include addressing any co-occurring disorders that are present (such as anxiety or depression), implementing holistic practices like yoga and acupuncture, and providing addiction medications in a safe, effective way. When both addiction and disability are treated simultaneously by trained professionals who are all working together, recovery is enhanced.

Accommodations for Disabilities at Greenhouse

Greenhouse Treatment Center is an ADA compliant facility. This means that we prohibit the discrimination of people with disabilities and follow a certain set of detailed criteria to ensure the continued support of those with disabling conditions. This criteria is focused on accomplishing the following goals:

  • Offering reasonable modifications of policies, practices, and procedures when needed
  • Providing effective communication in all forms
  • Ensuring physical accessibility

If you have a disability and addiction to drugs or alcohol, reach out to our inpatient rehab by calling to learn more about the specific ways in which we are prepared to accommodate your needs. 

Accessible Addiction Treatment in Dallas/Ft. Worth

If you or someone you love needs help with a substance use disorder, do not let anything stand in your way. Reach out to our inpatient rehab near Dallas to learn more about the treatment admissions process, insurance coverage, and paying for rehab.

There are several ways to treat addiction, regardless of what challenges you may face. Contact us by calling today and get started on your recovery journey with Greenhouse.

Get a head start and have your insurance verified in minutes by filling out our secure online .

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