Mind, body and dependency. Drug abuse. Alcohol abuse. Disability. Conditional


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Mind, body and dependency. Drug abuse. Alcohol abuse. Disability. Conditional

Disability and addiction are a tragically common pair. Persons with disabilities are substantially more likely to suffer from substance use disorders than the general population, and they are also less likely to receive treatment for them. Conversely, persons with addictions are more likely to become disabled, either through accidental injury or through long-term side effects of substance abuse.

People with physical disabilities experience substance use disorders at 2 to 4 times the rate of the general population. A disability and lack of support can easily discourage someone’s happiness and sense of purpose in life, creating depressing states. Co-occurring disorders, like depression, anxiety, and unhealed trauma, are especially common among disabled Americans, leading many to seek a false sense of comfort with harmful substances.

            • Individuals with mental and physical disabilities battle unique stressors, such as social perspectives of seeing them as outsiders, an inability to qualify for certain careers, access to certain benefits, and an inability to participate in a number of activities to the extent they would like. Individuals with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed; disabled adults 25 and older are less likely to have completed high school and more likely to live in poverty. They are more likely to be victims of violent crimes and suffer health conditions like obesity and smoking. All of these factors contribute to high rates of substance use seen in the disabled community.

Disabilities are perceived impairments on an individual’s body, emotions, and mind. Disabilities are defined as “conditions that affect a person’s physical or mental capacity or mobility.” A disability can be either short-term or long-term, and in many cases lifelong. Disabilities can be physical, mental, developmental, emotional, behavioral, or social and can occur at birth or develop later in life. Common disabilities include:

Paralysis

Spina bifida

Cerebral palsy

Cystic fibrosis

Multiple sclerosis

Deafness

Blindness

Muscular dystrophy

Developmental disorders

Prader-Willi Syndrome

Down Syndrome

Autism

Arthritis

Parkinson’s disease

Dwarfism

              • Amputation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16.1% of adults have difficulties physically functioning, while 39.5 million adults struggle with physical disabilities. Individuals with disabilities often develop substance use disorders to offset emotional and mental disorders, anxiety, low moods, and physical pain accompanying physical disabilities. In the United States, 54 million people experience some form of a disability, of which roughly 9% (a total of 4.7 million adults) have both a substance use disorder and a co-existing disability.

  • Those suffering with intellectual disabilities in particular suffer from staggering rates of addiciton. 7%-26% of individuals with intellectual disabilities have addiction-related issues, depending on the exact condition. These rates are heavily influenced by the effects of some mental conditions combined with the frustrations of dealing with them and the need to cope.

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