Physically and Developmentally Disabled

Specialty Program For Physically and Developmentally Disabled Patients

Physically and Developmentally DisabledWVADS, Inc. has partnered with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Center For Independent Living (CIL) to create a specialty treatment and prevention/education component. The clinical staff and prevention/education team of WVADS, Inc. have undergone extensive training and orientation to develop specific competencies in addressing the special needs of physically and developmentally disabled patients who access care at WVADS, Inc. Data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services demonstrates substance use disorders occur more often in persons with disabilities than in the general population. This includes problems with alcoholism, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs.

• Persons with any type of disability experience substance abuse at rates 2 to 4 times greater  than the general population
• Substance abuse prevalence rates approach or exceed 50% for persons with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or mental illness
• Substance abuse is a contributing factor or cause of up to 65% of disabling injuries in the United States

 

Why has Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. and the Northeast Pennsylvania Center for Independent Living developed a special partnership?

Both agencies have a proven track record of being consumer driven and have a reputation of being responsive to the needs of those they serve. Through this unique partnership, the agencies have developed a unique treatment experience for persons with a physical disability who have a drug and alcohol problem. The program, headquartered on-site at WVADS, Inc., will incorporate specific multi-faceted elements of treatment that are unique to a physically disabled population. The program will provide the patient and family with information and education to augment the treatment experience and enhance treatment outcomes. Counselors have undergone specialized training and workshops to enhance their skill sets in working with the developmentally and physically disabled population. Early detection and identification will hopefully lead to a prompt assessment/evaluation of the physically disabled patient and family, thus resulting in a timely intervention and effective treatment experience. The agencies will also work together on insuring for easy access to care by eliminating barriers.

How common is substance abuse in the developmentally and physically disabled population?

Data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services demonstrate substance use disorders occur more often in persons with disabilities than in the general population. This includes problems with alcoholism, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs;

  • Moore (2002) estimates that as many as 1.5 million individuals with disabilities may need treatment for substance use disorders in any given year.
  • Persons with any type of disability experience substance abuse at rates 2 to 4 times greater than the general population
  • Substance abuse prevalence rates approach or exceed 50% for persons with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or mental illness
  • Conditions such as deafness, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis have shown substance abuse rates of at least double general population estimates
  • 40-50% of persons with spinal cord injuries, orthopedic disabilities, vision impairment, and amputations are considered heavy drinkers

Additionally, data indicate that rates of substance abuse vary widely across disabilities…..Spinal cord and traumatic brain injury populations have been found to have substantially higher rates of substance abuse disorders than the general population.

Many persons with disabilities struggle with recurring substance abuse problems, frustrating efforts at rehabilitation, employment, and successful integration into society.

Substance abuse is a contributing factor or cause of up to 65% of disabling injuries in the United States.

What are some of the factors that affect a person’s willingness to accept the realities of their disability?

According to the Center on Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and (Li and Moore, 1998), the following are some of the factors that may be barriers to a person’s willingness to accept their disability:

  • The severity, duration, or specific functional limitations of the disability
  • Societal reaction to and expectations of the person with a disability
  • The developmental stage at time of the disability’s onset
  • Access to resources and societal mobility
  • A history of risk-taking behaviors prior to the onset of the disability
  • A history of having used substances (drugs and alcohol) to cope with a disability
  • Recurring and episodic forms of personal grieving due to disability issues
  • The amount of independence resulting from a person’s lifestyle and personality
  • Age (generally, younger people are more willing to accept their disability)
  • Marital status (married people are more willing to accept disability than single or unattached)
  • Income (the greater someone’s income, the more willing they are to accept their disability)

Do persons with developmental and physical disabilities face multiple risk factors?

Yes! Persons with disabilities often have multiple risk factors that can increase the chances of developing a drug and alcohol problem;

  • Medical and health problems
  • Societal enabling
  • Lack of accessible and appropriate prevention and treatment services
  • Individuals with disabilities may be overprotected and restricted from normal life experiences
  • Some people who develop a disability may proceed to develop new interests, learn new skills, and become active in disability rights/advocacy movements, while other individuals responding to loss, grief, guilt, frustration, low self-esteem, or physical or emotional pain due to a disability, may find that alcohol or drugs provide initial or temporary solace or relief

It should be noted that a pre-existing drug or alcohol problem can hinder an appropriate response to the disability, and an alcohol or drug problem that develops after a disability can impede the development of skills necessary to adjust to the disability, and can cause previously acquired skills to deteriorate. (Koch, Nelipovich, and Sneed, 2002)

In addition to addressing the patient’s drug and alcohol problems, what are some of the specific areas that this unique program
will address?

  • Impulsivity
  • Social Isolation
  • Self-Esteem Issues
  • Anger and Resentments
  • Building Resiliency Skills
  • Panic
  • Fears
  • Goal Setting
  • Problem Solving Techniques
  • Feelings of Hopelessness and Despair
  • Volunteerism
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Depression and stress
  • Strengthening Coping Skills
  • Obstacles To Recovery
  • Relapse Prevention Strategies
  • Empowerment
  • Solution Oriented Thinking
  • Attaining Recovery vs. Maintaining Recovery

Information and Resources