Where do Disability and Addiction connect?

Presentation – Disability and/or Addiction: Where do Disability and Addiction connect?

Back in 2012 I wanted to bridge the conversation between addiction and disability. I went to a professional addiction conference to present on how addiction and disability connect.

I was in for a shock.

No one there knew about the social model of disability.

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Instead of talking about how the two fields connect I struggled to introduce the few people who came to the social model. There was a lot of resistance and overall the presentation was a bomb.

It was topped off with a comment by someone who attended say that it sounded like I was trying to make a name for myself.

This frustrated me to no end because it wasn’t about making a name for myself, it was abut thinking about addiction differently.

Needless to say I haven’t been back to a professional addiction conference. It does not seem to be the space to introduce critical approaches to addiction.

I’m pleased to have the space to post the presentation now.  Below I have the abstract and a link to the Prezi. I’ve posted a few of the slides, but it was an hour long presentation so I can’t put them all on here.

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The field of addiction has been slowly removed from mental
health, physical health and society. This has resulted in the
addiction field to be behind in the development of new theory.

Disability Studies is a field that has been attempting to connect
areas that deal with people who struggle to find a place within
society due to discrimination, yet it has had difficulties in finding
a way to bring the people living through different types of

discrimination together. This discussion argues that bringing
addiction from its place of isolation into a more expansive
field, such as disability studies, will assist in developing a focus
on societal changes that has the potential to reduce the harm
experienced as a result of addiction on both a personal and
community level. Dislocation theory, as developed by Bruce
Alexander, will be employed to understand what these two
fields of work have in common. As well, a historical look at
disability activism will highlight how a focus on societal change
opens new venues to manage the harms experienced through
addiction. These discussions will assist participants to consider
what addiction activism could accomplish for people living with
addiction problems and to ponder what benefits would come from
connecting with disability activism.

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