March is National Disability Awareness Month

Woman resting in wheelchair against brick wall

March is National Disability Awareness Month!

On February 26, 1987, President Ronald Reagan first established the month of March as National Disability Awareness Month (originally National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month).

It was established to increase public awareness about the needs and potential of people with disabilities, as well as to advocate for, encourage, and provide opportunities for them. Did you know that as many as one in four people in the United States have some form of disability, including mobility, cognitive, hearing, vision, inability to live independently, and more?

And if you’re not disabled now, you may experience a disability in the future. One in four people in the United States will face at least a short-term disability before they turn 65.

Disability + Addiction

Some people with disabilities turn to substance use to cope with pain, isolation, stigma, or other factors associated with their disability. For others, their substance use led to a disability or worsened a disability. And then there are those who struggle with substance use, and just so happen to also be disabled.

Whichever of these is the case, people with disabilities account for a fifth of those who have Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Additionally, people with disabilities are more likely to have SUD than the general population.

Recovery from a substance use disorder is already difficult, but people with disabilities often face additional barriers to recovery.

According to SAHMSA, these may include “social, environmental, economic, or psychological” barriers. There are also barriers at many treatment facilities themselves, such as physical inaccessibility of outdoor and indoor spaces, lack of resources for the visually impaired (such as braille or large-print reading materials), and lack of technology to communicate with people who are deaf. Staff may not recognize those who have invisible disabilities, making accommodations and treatment more difficult.

SAHMSA’s guide discusses ways treatment facilities can work to improve conditions for people with disabilities, including:

  • Accessibility
  • Admissions/Intake Procedures
  • Individualized planning/care
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Specialized services
  • Pain-coping strategies

There are also resources for peer recovery groups. LifeRing Secular Recovery offers a virtual weekly support group meeting for people with disabilities, called Disaddicted. You don’t have to qualify your disability, or even disclose you have one. Your disability may be physical, developmental, cognitive, behavioral/emotional, invisible, and more – all are welcome.

Join us here on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Pacific. Contact Jenni at if you have an accessibility need that you would like to discuss.

Recovery is possible for people who have both a disability and SUD. At Disaddicted, you can join your peers and recover together.

— Jenni G., LifeRing Convenor and Advocate

LifeRing is currently recruiting new convenors and co-convenors to support our growing recovery community. You can learn more about the requirements and the rewards of being a LifeRing convenor on the LifeRing Start a Meeting webpage. Other ways you can support LifeRing are listed on our Engagement Opportunities webpage.