September is Recovery Month, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), increasing awareness of mental and substance use disorders and celebrating the people who are traveling the Road to Recovery. That road can be a challenge for people who have a disability in addition to a substance use disorder. Many people with psychiatric and behavioral disabilities may experience substance use disorders, using drugs or alcohol along with or in place of medications to treat their disabilities. People with other disabilities may be just as vulnerable to substance use and addiction, from individuals trying to manage chronic pain to people with brain injuries and co-occurring substance use.
There is help, however. Members of the NIDILRR community have developed resources for individuals, families, and professionals which may offer support for that road to recovery
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Pathways to Positive Futures dedicated an entire issue of Focal Point to the issue of co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders in young people.
Deaf Off Drugs and Alcohol is a project to improve alcohol and drug treatment services for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Learn about the project, how they can help your local provider to meet the needs of Deaf and hard of hearing people in recovery, and how to participate in their online support services.
The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) has information targeted to people with traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), and burn injury:
- Up to 2/3 of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) have a history of alcohol abuse or similar risky behavior, and some continue to use alcohol after their injury. MSKTC covers the facts about TBI and alcohol, and the impact it can have on recovery.
- Managing pain after SCI and burn injury present many challenges when it comes to substance use.
The Ohio Regional Model Traumatic Brain Injury System focuses part of its research activities on reducing alcohol use after TBI, and offers several information resources on substance use and TBI for use by individuals, families, and professionals.
For people with psychiatric disabilities who are striving toward wellness, visit the suite of tools at the Center for Integrated Health Care and Self-Directed Recovery, from the RRTC on Psychiatric Disabilities and Co-Occurring Medical Conditions (also supported by SAMHSA).
Outside the NIDILRR community, there are also resources to help:
- SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Locator allows users to narrow their search to centers that support both substance use and mental health disorders.
- The American Chronic Pain Association offers tools and resources to help with pain management and opiod use.
- The National Institute on Aging offers specific resources for older adults and alcohol.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness can connect you to local mental health services, including counseling and support groups.
- For people with intellectual or developmental disabilities as well as mental or behavioral disorders, the National Association for Dual Diagnosis offers information for individuals, families, and professionals.
The NARIC library includes a rich collection of research on disability and substance use. We covered the topic in a 2011 issue of our reSearch literature review, Substance Abuse and Individuals with Disabilities. You can also review more than 400 abstracts from NIDILRR-funded projects as well as more than 2,000 abstracts from the greater disability and rehabilitation research community, including international research, indexed in our REHABDATA database.
We hope the information provided here is helpful to you and your community. You may share, repost, or reprint this article in its entirety as part of your own Recovery Month activities.