Substance use disorders in people with intellectual disability

Robert Didden, Joanne VanDerNagel, Monique Delforterie, Neomi van Duijvenbode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To provide an overview of studies on substance use and substance use disorder (SUD) in individuals with mild intellectual disability or borderline intellectual functioning (MID-BIF).

RECENT FINDINGS: Many individuals with MID-BIF use tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. On average, rates of substance use and SUD are similar to or even higher than those in peers with average intelligence. Individuals with MID-BIF are overrepresented in (forensic) addiction care. Several instruments are now available for the assessment of SUD and its risk factors in this target group. Prevention and intervention programs have been shown feasible and with promising outcomes, although the evidence base is still small. Professionals in addiction care and intellectual disability care facilities show deficiencies in skills in addressing SUD in clients with MID-BIF.

SUMMARY: Research in this area is still in its infancy, though an increasing number of studies show promising outcomes regarding case identification, assessment, and treatment of SUD in intellectual disability. Policy and practice should be adapted to the characteristics of individuals with MID-BIF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-129
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date16 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • assessment
  • intellectual disability
  • prevalence
  • substance use
  • treatment


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