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Substance Abuse and Disability: Understanding the Link

Substance Abuse and Disability: Understanding the Link

Disabilities and substance abuse unfortunately often seem to go hand in hand. To an outside observer, it can often be difficult to determine which came first. 

While it may seem sadly understandable why someone dealing with a disability may become inadvertently addicted to substances, it’s also sometimes difficult to diagnose.

People with some disabilities may have addictions that are harder to recognize, which can leave them needing treatment for longer periods. And people with physical disabilities may face legitimate suffering, so traditional detox protocols may seem cruel or even dangerous. 

Take a moment as Dr. Judy E. Vansiea of Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services, PC, in Uniondale, New York, explains more about the link between disabilities and substance abuse.

How well-meaning doctors can create addictions

Many people with physical disabilities live with debilitating pain. Well-meaning doctors want to alleviate their patients’ pain, so they may prescribe medications like opioids, anti-anxiety drugs, or muscle relaxers. 

However, before prescribing these medications, responsible doctors should consider their patients’ mental health and personal risk of addiction. This often does not happen as often as it should. 

Patients can become addicted to these medications in a relatively short period of time. This can leave the providers in a difficult situation, since withdrawing the patient from the substance could further exacerbate their pain.

Substance abuse is prevalent among people with disabilities

The number of people who abuse substances is far higher among people with disabilities as compared to the general population. The substance abuse rate for people with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or mental illnesses exceeds 50 percent, compared with about 10 percent among the general population.

Having one of these disabilities doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to have to suffer forever–but it does mean that you may need some help. When you get therapy, you can learn coping strategies to deal with these life-changing disabilities in a healthy way.

Drug addiction itself is a disability

Did you know that being addicted to drugs is in itself considered a disability? The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that drug addiction is a disability because it may cause significant impairment, may limit your activities, and/or restrict your participation in activities.

There’s not anything wrong with you if you’re suffering from substance use disorder. But you do need help from a professional to stop using the substances. The caring therapy services of Dr. Vansiea can help you conquer this disorder.

How do you determine what treatment is needed?

Dr. Vansiea can help you determine what treatment level is best for you based on her assessment of the acuity of care needed due to the use history and how it is affecting one’s life. Some patients may need an outpatient or inpatient treatment. To truly recover, your rehabilitation needs to incorporate mental and often spiritual factors, as well as some physical components. 

You can treat the addiction to substance use by seeking counseling. Start your journey toward ultimate wellness when you contact Dr. Judy E. Vansiea at Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services, PC, or request an appointment online.

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