Addiction treatment for people with disabilities

How is addiction treatment customized for people with disability? We explore here and invite your questions about addiction treatment at the end.

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Living with a disability can also be very stressful, painful, and disheartening.. Because of this, substance abuse among the disabled population is typically much higher than the general population. In fact, drug abuse or addiction can be as much as four times more prevalent for people experiencing disability.

Traditional addiction treatment is not always the best option for people with disabilities. So how can addiction treatment serve the needs of this population?  We review here. Then, we invite your questions about addiction treatment at the end.

People with disabilities and addiction treatment barriers

Obstacles are often a way of life for people with disabilities, and addiction treatment barriers are not uncommon. Not surprisingly, disabled people face several barriers both before and during addiction treatment. Some of these barriers may include:

  • communication difficulties
  • feelings of being “different” while in treatment
  • inability to find a suitable treatment program
  • physical limitations
  • shame and stigma surrounding addiction

People with disabilities and addiction treatment

In order to be successful, addiction treatment for people with disabilities must be accessible. The services that an addiction treatment for people with disabilities can vary depending on the clients specific disabilities, but can include:

  • accessible amenities, such as large bathroom and shower stalls
  • intensive addiction treatment
  • medical staff
  • mental health services
  • non-verbal communication
  • professionals who understand disabled individuals and is sympathetic to their challenges
  • substance abuse education
  • wheelchair accessible entrances

People with disabilities drug addiction treatment

For people with disabilities, drug addiction treatment is comprised of a few important steps.

1. An assessment must first be conducted by a qualified addiction specialist. This helps give the addiction specialist a clear picture of how severe the addiction is, what special needs a person may have, and what type of treatment may be best.

2. Detox should be completed before people enter addiction treatment. This typically involves going through withdrawal in a safe, secure, and controlled environment. Typically, medical professionals will supervise disabled individuals during this step to ensure that they are not in danger.

3. Addiction treatment is a multi-faceted process. It often involves individual behavior therapy, peer-to-peer group therapy, family counseling, and treatment for any underlying mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety.

4. Aftercare is an important step in addiction treatment. After completing an addiction program, most recovering addicts will need to continue attending outpatient therapy sessions. Some disabled individuals recovering from addiction may also need to live in a transitional living facility, or halfway house, which gives them a safe and drug-free place to stay until they can get on their feet.

Addicted people with disabilities

Addicted people with disabilities should never be afraid to ask for help if they need it. But where can you find help for addiction?

  1. A family doctor-One place to start would be their primary care physician, who can usually screen them for addiction and refer them to a suitable treatment program.
  2. Seek referrals-Clinics and hospitals will also usually be able to refer disabled individuals to a treatment program as well.
  3. Government programs-Government agencies are also great resources for addicted people with disabilities. For instance, the facility locator on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) website can be used to find local addiction treatment programs that offer special services for disabled people. Addicted people with disabilities can also contact their local or state Office on Disability for more information on addiction treatment for the disabled.

People with disabilities addiction questions

Are you or your loved one disabled and in need of addiction treatment? Well, we’re here to help. If you have any additional questions about addiction treatment for the disabled, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to answer them in a timely manner and help you or your loved overcome addiction.

Reference Sources: The New York Times: Addiction Programs Opening Up For Disabled
U.S.D. Health & Human Services: Office on Disability-Substance Abuse and Disability
U.S.D. Health & Human Services: Substance Abuse and Disability
NCBI: The treatment of disabled persons with alcohol and drug problems: results of a survey of addiction services
Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. My dad has aphasia because of a stroke. He also has schizophrenia. He is an alcoholic and addicted to marijuana. I want to know if there is a rehab facility that would be able to accommodate him in the us.

    1. Hi Chelsea. Call the number you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find a suitable treatment program for your father. The helpline is free, confidential, and available any time of the day and the night. Also, download our free e-book ‘The Definitive Guide to Rehab’ that can help you choose the best rehab program for your father, here:

  2. Why you have a “trusted Helpline” on the disabled addicted page is confusing. The helpline is no resource for us. So far I have found 0 rehabs in Canada to take a quadriplegic, and over 400 rehabs in the US that do not have the facilities to take my son.
    The helpline is no help whatsoever. She suggests that I call each rehab and ask them. So far I have been doing this for 12 months. Maybe someone could add wheelchair accessibility to search for rehabs? Man what a concept!!!

    1. Hi Tammy. I am also aware that addiction treatment programs’ staff (nurses) usually have no experience in caring for a person with spinal cord injury, and thus cannot provide intensive nursing care. I would suggest that you contact both the local ILC ( and Mental Health Association for assistance in this. Also, you may need to provide your own personal care in inpatient programs due to the lack of sufficient nursing care available.

  3. My sister finally asked for help with her addition to pills. She is disabled and homebound has a rare illness that requires her to be in a air conditioned room 24/7 even in the winter months. Is there something I can do to help her get over this addition with this type of disability I don’t know of any place to take her. Thank you

    1. Hey Elizabeth. Your sister needs your support! If you are looking for an addiction treatment, I suggest you call the helpline number displayed on our site to get in touch with our trusted treatment providers who can help you find adequate treatment program for your sister.

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