Substance Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options For Individuals With Physical Disabilities

Individuals with physical disabilities who are also struggling with substance abuse can benefit greatly from an individualized inpatient treatment program that takes both conditions into account. Not all addiction treatment programs were designed for individuals with physical disabilities so it is important to find a disability-friendly treatment center.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment Programs For Individuals With Physical Disabilities

Substance abuse and addiction are major issues within the physically disabled community, so it is important to understand that addiction treatment for this group of people may require a more individualized approach.

Physically disabled individuals struggling with addiction may be concerned with finding a inpatient treatment program that would be would work best for them.  inpatient facilities that accommodate physical disabilities do exist.

It is possible that the main issue for disabled individuals seeking substance abuse treatment, is the lack of education among healthcare professionals about these conditions. The less that is understood about physical disability, the less likely those with such conditions will receive the proper addiction treatment.

Substance Abuse Among The Physically Disabled Population

People with disabilities, such as a spinal cord injury, vision or hearing impairment, amputation or orthopedic replacement, arthritis or multiple sclerosis (MS), may be between two and four times more likely to abuse drugs or consume excessive amounts of alcohol, Disabled World reports. It is difficult to identify the exact reason as to why substance abuse is so prevalent among physically disabled individuals.

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Plymouth, Massachusetts

Opioids, also known as opiates or painkillers, are the most commonly abused substances among the physically disabled. These include prescription opioid medications such as Vicodin and OxyContin. Alcohol, heroin, and marijuana are also abused, but not as regularly as opioids.

Risk factors that contribute to increased drug use among the disabled can include:

  • severe physical pain
  • mental and hormonal imbalance
  • increased likelihood of depression and anxiety
  • isolation from social activities due to physical limitations
  • enabling caregivers, family members, and communities
  • increased rates of unemployment
  • family history of addiction

Many of these risk factors can be hard to manage because they are a part of being physically disabled. For example, individuals with physical impairments may suffer from chronic pain and are given potentially-addictive prescription pain medications to manage that pain. This  may help improve their quality of life while putting them at risk for an opioid use disorder.

Other issues such as unemployment and social isolation may be more more easily addressed by contacting a temp-agency or local support group. In the end though, the best and most reliable way for a physically disabled person to stop abusing substances is to enroll in an inpatient rehab program.

Inpatient addiction treatment programs can help individuals identify the root of their substance abuse and teach them various ways to manage it, so that they may happily participate in day-to-day life once more.

Drug And Alcohol Rehab Programs For The Physically Disabled

A lack of cultural sensitivity and negative social stigma can make it hard for the physically disabled to find drug and alcohol rehab programs. A staff of medical providers who are trained to care for individuals with co-occurring disorders can make all the difference to a physically disabled person going through substance abuse recovery.

The options for individuals with these conditions may seem limited. For example, in 2009, there were only five inpatient programs that provided services that could accommodate someone with a hearing disability. However, today services such as Telehealth Treatment can be provided to hearing impaired individuals seeking addiction treatment. This service can connect them with specially trained treatment providers, support groups, and recovery services all over the country.

The inability to physically access all the areas of a treatment center, whether due to lack of wheelchair access or another disability, can also mean the difference between disabled individuals receiving appropriate addiction treatment or not.

Drug and alcohol abuse may complicate the treatment of a physical disability in any given individual. Substance abuse may interfere with specific medications they are taking for their disability and the overall physical rehabilitation process.

The opposite is also true, physical disabilities may complicate addiction treatment and recovery. This is why drug and alcohol rehab programs for the physically disabled should comprehensively look at both co-occurring disorders.

Possible Treatment Barriers For Physically Disabled Individuals

While substance abuse can be an issue for all virtually anyone, people with physical disabilities may face additional barriers to getting proper addiction treatment. There are also specific concerns that must be taken into consideration for different types of physical disabilities when substance abuse is involved.

Most barriers are caused by misunderstandings of physically debilitating conditions, and it is possible that some barriers may not be experienced until someone is attending formal treatment.

The following are possible barriers someone with a physical disability may face:

  • discrimination
  • trouble communicating
  • physical barriers


The social stigma around physical disabilities may be why some individuals feel that they are not able to enroll in addiction treatment. Although they may feel it necessary, it is possible for their primary doctor to disagree. This can cause a myriad of problems including how they will pay for treatment and what services they will be eligible for when they get there.

Trouble Communicating

Individuals with vision or hearing impairments are more likely to experience issues with communication while trying to get help for substance abuse. Services such as an interpreter for the deaf or braille signage for the blind may be limited. These conditions may also cause limitations for reaching out in the first place if someone is unable to physically get to a rehab center.

Physical Barriers

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Ashby, Massachusetts

As mentioned earlier, rehab centers that are not designed to accommodate wheelchairs or people with limited mobility can discourage the physically impaired from treatment. While more and more rehab centers are in the process of fixing these issues, many still lack things such as elevators, ramps, and easy-open door knobs.

Getting around these barriers requires much individualized attention and treatment methods. Though it may seem challenging, it is possible to find inpatient rehab centers that provide the physically disabled with the help they need to start living a life free of addiction.

Find The Right Treatment Program Today

All individuals who abuse substances face the disability of addiction. When someone has the added burden of a physical disability, it can make finding an inpatient rehab center takes both conditions into account seem unlikely.

There is hope, and there are treatment programs out there that can help physically disabled individuals recover from their substance abuse disorder.

For more information on inpatient rehab centers for individuals with physical disabilities, contact us today.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC: 53 million adults in the US live with a disability

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Substance Use Disorders In People With Physical And Sensory Disabilities


Canton, Massachusetts

Bedrock Recovery Center


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Plymouth, Massachusetts

Ohio Recovery Center


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