When people think of
disability, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Someone with a white
cane… a hearing aid… a limp? How about none of the above? What if someone has
no visibly defining characteristics of having a disability? Invisible
disabilities are working their way into the public consciousness. A disability
is now something that can be seen, observed, communicated and/or yes, even
felt. More specifically, addiction, as a permanent invisible disability, is
part of the disability definition.
We at Champions define a
disability as any barrier which restricts the ability to perform one or more
areas of daily living. Addictions definitely fit within this description.
are strong appetites. Addicts are people who have a strong appetite. Appetites
generate desires, and the satisfaction of these desires generally provides
pleasure. A drug addict has strong appetites for some drug, and, indeed, a
person with a strong appetite for Internet use is an Internet addict.” - Relating Addiction to Disease,
Disability, Autonomy, and the Good Life: Bennett Foddy, Julian Savulescu.
Some hold the
misconception that when an individual is ‘clean, sober, or controls their
addiction’, there are no longer restrictions on life. In fact, an addiction has
permanent effects on each individual. Through support the addiction doesn’t
disappear, but rather is controlled. That control can only be maintained with
Someone living with an
addiction to alcohol may need to accommodate by not exposing themselves to
alcohol. This may prevent them from eating in certain restaurants and therefore
restricts one or more areas of daily life. Similarly, a work addict may need to
accommodate by having strict behaviors and limitations between their work and
personal lives. This may be in the form of rituals to transfer attention from
home to work, or segregating clothing to limit work and personal attire.
Although it may be highly
stigmatized, perceived by some as temporary, or dismissed all together, don’t
be mistaken, addiction is a disability. Although an addict my not be giving in
to their appetite, the effects the appetite has, are permanent and constant.