Is Alcoholism a Disability?

Is alcoholism a disability? Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the world, with approximately 14.5 million Americans suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder every year. Due to its prevalence, many people wonder: Is alcoholism a disability? It’s important to know the signs of this disorder, whether or not it is a disability, and the treatment options for alcoholism.

Signs of Alcoholism

Change in Appearance

If an individual has lost or gained a significant amount of weight, it is often a sign that alcoholism has developed. Being indifferent towards personal hygiene or grooming is also common among those battling this addiction.


Once an addiction has fully formed, individuals often lose interest in hobbies and relationships they once enjoyed. The addiction eventually becomes the sole interest of the individual.

Financial and Legal Troubles

Those struggling with alcoholism are frequently involved in legal issues, such as arrests or receiving citations. Due to the cost of maintaining an alcohol supply, financial stress is another common indicator of abuse.


Neglecting work, family, or other fundamental responsibilities is a strong indicator of substance abuse. Once an alcohol addiction has developed, the only remaining responsibility in the mind of the user is obtaining more of their drug of choice.

Short-term memory loss

Prolonged drinking leads to brain damage and shrinkage, impacting the memory and cognitive functioning. Because of this, those struggling with alcoholism typically struggle with memory.

Headaches when not drinking

Once the brain becomes used to the constant presence of alcohol, the absence of it has adverse physical effects on the user. Headaches and nausea are the most common signs of withdrawal.


Alcohol affects the brain’s dopamine regulation. Excessive or prolonged drinking consequently prevents the brain from functioning normally, resulting in extreme agitation, anger and dramatic mood swings.

Is Alcohol Addiction Considered a Disability?

Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, alcohol is not considered a disability. Individuals who struggle with this disorder are not able to file for disability benefits or receive financial compensation. However, many professionals within the addiction field consider alcoholism a chronic disease. This disease model of addiction would suggest alcoholism is a disability, yet the federal government has not classified it as such.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

If an individual begins exhibiting signs of alcoholism, such as a desperate need to continue drinking, changes in appearance, or financial problems, seeking drug and alcohol treatment in NJ is necessary. The first step in treating alcohol addiction is detox. Is alcoholism a disability? Chances are if you need detox, it is. Due to possible complications during the detox process, it is highly recommended that the individual seeks medical assistance during this stage. Clinically-supervised detox can guarantee that the individual feels safe and comfortable during the withdrawal process.

Once an individual has successfully completed detox, they will be prepared for additional, more intensive addiction treatment. Therapies such as individual, group, or cognitive-behavioral therapy are all proven to be very effective in treating addiction and are offered in most of treatment programs.

Addiction treatment within a professional center increases the likelihood of staying sober. Most centers offer various services, as well as therapies and workshops. When entering an addiction treatment program, an individual will be embraced by a community of supportive peers and a safe, judgment-free environment. Is alcoholism a disability? The goal of treatment is to move a person past the point where alcoholism interrupts their life as a disability.

We Can Help

Is alcoholism a disability? Not legally, but that doesn’t mean that it is not life-threatening. Getting help for alcoholism is difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are many available options if you or a loved one is struggling with this addiction. The level of treatment you require depends on the severity of the addiction. The following are common addiction treatment services:

  • Inpatient and PHP/IOP Programs– These programs require clients to live within the facility or in sober living where they attend groups during the day. These programs eliminate all outside distraction and temptation, allowing clients to focus only on sobriety.  Clients will participate in various therapies and group sessions during this immersive treatment. Is alcoholism a disability? If it is, then you will probably want to begin with a detox followed by one of these programs.
  • Outpatient Programs– Outpatient programs are suitable for individuals who have already completed some form of addiction treatment. These programs allow clients to transition back into daily life while still benefiting from scheduled treatment sessions. To ensure continued sobriety, clients must be residing within a sober living environment. Is alcoholism a disability? If it is not, then you may be able to get by with outpatient treatment alone, but most people need more.
  • Continuum Care Planning– It is important that a client’s sobriety is supported even after completing an addiction treatment program. Continuum care planning programs provide continued support by facilitating recovery meetings and aftercare planning. Clients will feel secure knowing that they have continued access to a network that supports lifelong recovery. Is alcoholism a disability? Well the hope is that if it was, treatment will move you beyond that point.

If you or a loved one is ready to live the sober life you deserve, the professionals at NJ Rehabs are here for you. The professionals at our center are trained in addiction and eager to assist you on your journey. Don’t fight addiction alone. Call us today and take back your life.