Substance Use Disorders and People with Developmental Disabilities

In this image, there are four circles, each containing an individual, as well as black clip art depicting a microphone. Moving from left to right, the initial circle showcases the host, Erica Dennison. She is characterized by shoulder-length brown hair and is adorned in a black sleeveless collared shirt, set against a vibrant background adorned with colorful flowers. In the following circle, the guest Ann Noonan from Noonan Consultants is presented. She stands confidently with crossed arms, sporting short sandy brown hair and a white collared shirt. The third circle features Dr. Chad Johnson from Urban Peaks Rehab. He is depicted with a shaved head and is dressed in a grey and red tie, collared white shirt, and a black suit jacket. The final image spotlights Erika Spraker from Lifelong Inc. She is recognized by her long black hair and wears black-rimmed glasses, creating a distinctive and professional appearance. The last circle is Senator Danfna Michaelson Colorado State Senator with a blueish grey background with her peppered hair pulled back neatly from her face with a black shirt and necklace.
Substance Use – PODVOD Posts – Announcement

Substance Use Disorders (SUD) have reached a crisis-level in the United States, and the intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) population is no exception. Unfortunately, individuals with IDD face addiction-related issues at rates ranging from 7 to 26%. This can include prescription medications with addictive properties or non-prescription “street drugs”. In this TRAINING series, Substance Use Disorders and People with Developmental Disabilities, we talk with experts in SUD treatment to understand the reasons behind this high prevalence, address prevention strategies, and discuss barriers to treatment and recovery.

Why you should tune in

Break the stigma around discussing Substance Use Disorders when it comes to supporting people with IDD! The first step in prevention, seeking support, and attaining effective treatment is discussing these issues and knowing how to talk about them with individuals with IDD and the supports in their lives.

Learn all the ins and outs by watching a vodcast (video) or listening to podcast (audio) episodes 75-77.

Episode 1: A Primer on Substance Use Disorders (SUD) – Featuring Ann C. Noonan MA, CAS, LPC, from Noonan Consults, LLC


  • 2:35 – What is Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
  • 4:05 – The factors behind substance abuse becoming a disorder
  • 5:20 – Why certain substances are more addictive than others
  • 8:55 – The intellectual/developmental disability (IDD) population and drug exposure
  • 10:40 – The line between recreational use and substance abuse
  • 13:45 – Treatment options and intervention plans for people with IDD
  • 19:20 – Risk-levels of developing a SUD
  • 20:30 – Tips for people with IDD’s “circle of supports”
Listen to “TRAININGS E75: Primer on Substance Abuse” on Spreaker.

Episode 2: Prevalence of Substance Abuse among People with IDD – Featuring Erika Spraker, LSW, ACA, Program Director of Lifelong Inc


  • 3:20 – Data around SUD and people with IDD
  • 3:30 – Addiction Center Statistics
  • 7:00 – Reasons for SUD prevalence in the disability population
  • 9:45 – Deciding on, managing, and monitoring prescription medications with addictive properties
  • 15:20 – Signs of SUD for people with IDD’s “circle of supports” to look out for
Listen to “TRAININGS E76: Prevalence of Substance Abuse among People with IDD” on Spreaker.

Episode 3: Treatment, Recovery, and the Barriers – Featuring Dr. Chad Johnston, Medical Director of Urban Peaks Rehab


  • 1:45 – The meaning of “recovery”
  • 3:00 – Treatment for people with disabilities
  • 5:45 – Harm Reduction
  • 8:35 – Narcan – harm reduction tool
  • 10:30 – Overview of harm reduction
  • 11:40 – Communication between the disability and addiction services systems
  • 14:15 – Improving access to treatment services
  • 18:15 – Negative attitudes and biases around substance abuse and IDD
Listen to “TRAININGS E77: Treatment, Recovery, and the Barriers” on Spreaker.

Bonus Episode: Systemic Gaps & Policy Solutions with Senator Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Colorado State Senator representing District 21


  • 2:30 – Treatment gaps for people with co-occurring disorders and disabilities
  • 3:40 – Harm Reduction policy in Colorado
  • 6:50 – Lived experiences and data needed to reduce stigma and improve policy
  • 9:55 – If you have a lived experience around substance use and disability, your voice is needed to make policy change! You can testify at the state capitol, either in person or virtually from where ever you are! Follow the legislative session, hear what bills are introduced, and learn more about participation in legislative hearings.
  • 11:35 – Policy change needed to address barriers and discrimination in treatment services
  • 13:05 – Reach out to your legislators to tell them the barriers you or someone you know is facing when it comes to substance use and having a disability. Find your Colorado legislator’s contact info at:
Listen to “TRAININGS E78: Systemic Gaps and Policy Solutions in Substance Use Treatment for People with IDD” on Spreaker.

This series was made possible through support from CDDC, Developmental Pathways, Arc Thrift, and The Arc of Aurora