Addiction Resources for Families of People with IDD

Resources for addiction

Helping a loved one through an addiction is never an easy thing to do. Families are a huge part of a person’s recovery. It can be even more daunting for a family of a person with a physical or intellectual disability to find the right resources for a loved one who is struggling with an addiction. There may have been the misconception that people with IDD do not use alcohol or drugs, but that myth has been dispelled. While the rate of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are using illicit drugs may be lower, the rates are similar to the general population for alcohol use (35.5 to 47 percent for the general population). The rates for cigarette smoking are about the same, at 20.5 percent.

Finding the right services

Whether it is a teen, adult child, or even a sibling you support, finding appropriate and accessible services can be challenging, but it can be done. Depending on your community, various addiction services may be available. You will want to consider different aspects of each service to see what will work best for your family.

Here are some factors to consider when you are looking for services for addiction and ways to support your family members:

  • Does the provider have experience/training working with people with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities, IDD? Do they understand the person’s disability and its potential impact on their substance use disorder recovery?
  • Your Care Manager is a strong advocate for your loved one. Include them in looking for resources and treatment services. They can ensure that all of the person’s services will support them through their recovery from drug or alcohol use. They will know many services and help you navigate the linkage between treatment providers and the person’s current services.
  • Is the provider using techniques that the person will benefit from? Role-playing or expressive therapy is helpful for people with IDD. Do they understand how treatment discussions will need to be concrete with examples of ideas and principles? Are they using terms and concepts that your loved one will understand?
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA can help. This national helpline is a confidential, 24/7 treatment and referral information service for families and individuals seeking treatment services. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

You are not alone

Know that there is help. Several groups can support family members of a loved one with addiction issues before and during recovery. They offer opportunities to be in person or participate virtually.

Al-Anon A group for families and individuals providing support for someone with an alcohol addiction.

Alateen A group for adolescents who are affected by the alcohol addiction of a family member.

Nar-Anon A 12-step program for family and friends of people who are addicted to drugs.

PAL A Christian-based non-profit that provides support to parents who have children addicted to drugs or alcohol

Families Anonymous A 12-step program for family members of people addicted to drugs or alcohol or have related behavioral health conditions.

SMART Recovery Family and Friends A secular alternative to Al-Anon and similar spirituality-based interventions is a science-based program for family members of people living with addiction.

GRASP This group is designed to support families and loved ones who have lost someone they love to addiction and overdose.

NAMI Family Support Group  The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a broad support group for adult family members of anyone who has experienced the symptoms of a mental health condition.

Find more resources available on the Community Resource Tool.