The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that while both people with and without disabilities often experience barriers to treatment but the disabled face additional barriers. The American Association of Health and Disability reported that more than 50% of substance use treatment facilities had to turn away patients with traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries because the facilities were not wheelchair accessible. This was the case whether or not the facilities were public or privately owned, or were residential, outpatient, or hospital-based.
Data shows that the need for more access to substance use treatment for people with physical disabilities is crucial because they are at high risk for developing a SUD:
- More than 50 percent of people with a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury and mental illness abuse drugs or alcohol.
- People with disabilities like deafness, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis have substance abuse rates that are double those of the general population.
- About half of the people with spinal cord injury, amputation, blindness, or degenerative diseases who drink alcohol meet the classification of a heavy drinker.
Those with mental disabilities may also need to find addiction treatment facilities with special accommodations as they may not be able to take in or process the information regarding their substance use disorder the same way as someone without a mental disability. To prevent them from getting discouraged and leaving treatment, they should identify facilities that have staff trained in creating recovery plans to address their specific needs so they are more likely to complete treatment.