What If I Am Physically Disabled and Want to Get Sober?

Sadly, ableism still has a strong presence in the US, and one of the ways in which it manifests itself is with a lack of resources. Most drug and alcohol treatments offer little, if anything, in the way of accommodation. While the situation does continue to improve, albeit at a slow pace, it does leave disabled people with extra barriers to recovery.

If you have a physical disability and want to get sober, understand that you have the same right to get treatment as everybody else. If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against in your efforts to recover, contact ADA.gov to file a complaint. Also, continue reading to learn more about your options. If you are an addiction treatment professional, read this article and consider whether or not your place of work fully accommodates people with physical disabilities.

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4.7 million adults with disabilities also have a substance use disorder.


Disability and Recovery

Disabled people have a disproportionate risk of developing substance abuse problems compared to the rest of the population. Those with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or mental illnesses have the highest risk. While the disabled community has a higher prevalence of substance abuse disorders, they have to put more effort into finding the right path to recovery than other members of the population. For example, an able-bodied person might select a treatment facility by asking the following questions:

  • Can I afford it? Do they offer scholarships or payment plans? Do they offer a sliding scale payment system?
  • Will I have to travel to get there?
  • What kind of treatment methods will they use?

A disabled person will have to ask all of the above questions plus one or more of the following questions:

  • Will an interpreter be available?
  • Will they have Braille signage and materials?
  • How narrow are the hallways?
  • Will I be able to access every room that I need to access?
  • Will recreational activities come with accommodation?
  • Is transportation accessible?

Invisible Disabilities

Not all disabilities are apparent to the surrounding population. Some disabilities are called “invisible disabilities” because they impact the individual without being apparent on the outside. Such disabilities include chronic fatigue, Lyme disease, digestive disabilities, chronic pain, and many others. People who have invisible disabilities often face judgement and stigma when receiving accommodations because people assume that they don’t need those accommodations. If you have an invisible disability and need accommodation, make sure the staff at your treatment center(s) are ready to meet your needs. If you’re a care provider at a treatment center, be willing to provide accommodations, and avoid making judgements about people with invisible disabilities.

If you need help to recover from a drug or alcohol addiction, call 800-492-QUIT today.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain further complicates drug and alcohol addiction recovery because the treatment of chronic pain often involves opioids, a highly addictive substance. People with chronic pain and addiction will need some level of medication management while they navigate a path to sobriety. Rehabs, detox facilities, and other types of treatment centers should be prepared to manage the needs of people who have chronic pain.

Treatment Options

In addition to rehab (inpatient or outpatient) and detox, disabled people with substance abuse problems have other options to help them get sober. For example, just like a non-disabled person, an addicted person with disabilities can attend individual or group therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is especially helpful for improving outcomes. CBT teaches people with and without disabilities how to recognize and restructure their negative thoughts and destructive behavioral patterns. Whether your triggers are related or unrelated to your disability, CBT can help.

Furthermore, people with disabilities can attend 12 Step groups or other types of recovery groups. Alcoholics Anonymous has resources about accommodation for AA members with disabilities. Many 12 Step and other recovery organizations have groups that are specific to a certain demographic. For example, you may find a recovery group geared toward women specifically or people of certain age groups. Try searching for “12 Step disability group near me” and see if you can find anything. Of course, just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you have to attend a disability-specific group. If you find out where a group holds meetings, you can see if that place is accessible.

How to Find Accessible Resources

If you need accessible resources to help you get sober, let Rehab Info help. We serve our clients by making them aware of their options and helping them make the best choice.

If you need to recover from a drug or alcohol addiction

we’re here to help you no matter your level of ability. Let us know if you need accommodations, and we’ll help you choose from your options. Start by calling 800-492-QUIT today.
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