Disabilities and Recovery
What barriers to recovery do disabled people face?
Disabled people are more likely than the general population to develop substance use disorders. If you are a disabled person in recovery, you may have used alcohol and/or drugs to escape the pain, isolation, guilt, and frustration resulting from your disability. Unfortunately, disabled people may also face several obstacles to recovery, including physical barriers, learning needs, and possible family issues.
For example, if you are physically disabled you will need to find a recovery facility that’s accessible to you. You may need an entry ramp, elevators that can accommodate a wheelchair, doors that open automatically, and adequate space and parking for wheelchair access. Those who are blind may need learning materials in braille and a teacher who gives verbal cues. Those who are deaf may need a teacher or sponsor who can sign, an interpreter to attend meetings with them, or videos with closed captioning.
You may need to arrange transportation to and from Twelve Step meetings as well. Don’t let your disability stop you from going to meetings and working with your sponsor and recovery support group.
If you rely heavily on your family members for care, take a close look at those relationships. Could those members inhibit your recovery by enabling you to keep drinking and/or using?
It may also be beneficial for treatment programs to address employment issues. Many disabled people are underemployed or without a job, which may have led to substance use disorders in the first place. Learning skills needed for employment and independent living can aid the recovery process.
National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability (NAADD)
The NAADD website provides links to websites on substance use and disabilities, as well as articles about the progress toward improving the availability of treatment services for those with disabilities.