Substance Use and People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

April 02, 2024, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT
Virtual Event
Blue text on white background. Smith College School for Social Work Professional Education. Go Beyond.

In this webinar, attendees will explore the “dignity of risk” concept as it relates to substance use among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Although substance use and substance use disorders (SUD) are noted in a small percentage of people with IDD, the consequences of having an SUD in this population may be greater than for the general population, in part due to inadequate treatment access. A significant barrier to appropriate treatment is the lack of evidence-informed psychosocial interventions that are validated for this population. Researchers in behavioral health treatment for people with IDD have emphasized the need for specialized, inter-professional accessible services that are based in the community. Targeted to direct practitioners, this workshop reviews both empirical and non-empirical literature on psychosocial interventions aimed at the prevention and treatment of substance use disorder in individuals with IDD.

Increasingly, social workers are faced with challenges in supporting clients with IDD who use alcohol and drugs. Given theoretical differences between disability service systems and addiction treatment systems, it is hard to know how to approach practice with these clients. The "dignity of risk" concept is central to the well-being and human rights of people with IDD. Drawing on documented best practices for the empowerment of the disability communities along with a review of evidence-based practice information from the addiction service sector, social workers will gain practical knowledge and skills targeted to empowering this population. This presentation introduces screening, assessment, prevention and treatment tools adapted for people with IDD. Case studies are used in small breakout rooms to see how the above-described concepts can work in concert with these evidence-based practices that are not often discussed in the social work literature. Participants will be able to apply their learning to short case scenarios and discuss them together in small and large groups.

Notably, people of color are over-represented among people with IDD, making race a salient and visible part of the presentation re: intersectional dynamics. Disability is a social identity that is often overlooked in conversations of diversity, though 27% of the US adult population is disabled. People with IDD often live in poverty, making socioeconomic class an aspect of this intersectional presentation. The proposed presenter uses intersectional lenses in all her work.

2 CEs available.

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