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Drug Rehab for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (HOH)

Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are at a higher risk of struggling with substance abuse, due to challenges they may face including social isolation and communication difficulties. There are specialized substance abuse programs available to cater to their unique needs and help them effectively address addiction.

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Addiction Rehabilitation Centers for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals

Substance abuse is more prevalent among people who are disabled than the general population, including people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

In fact, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may be hit especially hard by drug addiction and substance abuse because of barriers they face in their everyday lives, such as social isolation and troubles with communication.

Fortunately, specialized programs throughout the United States offer accessible substance abuse treatment for people who are deaf, HOH, or otherwise disabled.

These programs allow hearing-impaired people to address their addiction while also feeling comfortable meeting their unique needs and challenges.

Addiction in People Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

Addiction in deaf and hard-of-hearing people is a significant concern, as they face unique challenges and barriers in accessing information, support, and treatment.

Communication difficulties, social isolation, and inadequate specialized services further increase their vulnerability to substance use disorders.

Additionally, mental health issues, cultural factors, and experiences of stigma and discrimination can further worsen the risk of addiction in deaf or hard-of-hearing people.

To address these needs, accessible and tailored resources are crucial for prevention, intervention, and recovery.

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Scope of Substance Abuse for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People

The deaf and hard-of-hearing community faces a greater risk for substance abuse than the general population, highlighting the need for specialized treatment and support services tailored to their unique needs.

Statistics related to substance abuse and people who are deaf or hard of hearing include:

  • Nearly 15% of deaf people in the United States also have a co-occurring alcohol or substance use disorder, 43% higher than the general population.
  • Around 13% of adults aged 18 and over report some hearing impairment or difficulty.
  • Substances that the deaf and hearing population are most likely to abuse include alcohol, marijuana, and prescription opioids.
  • Men are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than women, and they are also more likely to battle substance abuse than women.
  • People with hearing loss wait seven years, on average, before seeking help for their hearing loss.

Risk Factors for Addiction in People Who Are Deaf or HOH

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people face various risk factors that may put them at risk for developing an addiction.

Understanding these factors can help tailor interventions and support for HOH people and implement more effective treatments.

Risk factors for addiction in people who are deaf or HOH include:

  • Communication barriers: Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals often face difficulties in accessing information and communicating with others, leading to misunderstandings and limited knowledge about the risks of substance use.
  • Mental health issues: Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to substance use and addiction.
  • Discrimination and stigma: Experiences of discrimination and stigma due to hearing loss can lead to feelings of low self-worth and an increased risk of addiction.
  • Social isolation: Deaf and hard-of-hearing people may experience social isolation and feelings of loneliness due to their hearing loss, which can contribute to seeking comfort in addictive substances.
  • Inadequate support: A lack of specialized support and accessible resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing people can lead to increased vulnerability to addiction.

Signs of Substance Abuse in People Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

The signs of substance abuse in people who are deaf or hard of hearing may be difficult to recognize with communication barriers in place.

Early intervention is essential for successful rehab, which is why it’s necessary to understand and recognize the signs of substance abuse in a loved one who is deaf or HOH.

Signs of substance abuse in people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can include:

  • Changes in communication: Difficulty in maintaining a conversation, or a decline in the quality of sign language or lip-reading skills
  • Withdrawal from social activities: Isolation from the deaf community or disinterest in engaging with friends and family
  • Changes in mood and behavior: Mood swings, irritability, and increased secrecy or paranoia
  • Altered physical appearance: Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual, and deterioration of physical appearance
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns: Unusual eating habits or disruptions in regular sleep routines
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities: Neglecting hobbies, sports, or other previously enjoyable activities.
  • Frequent unexplained absences: Missing school, work, or social events without a reasonable explanation
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Effects of Substance Abuse on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People

Addiction can profoundly affect the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing people, impacting their physical, emotional, and social well-being.

Understanding the impact of addiction can assist in implementing specific actions to alleviate and tackle their distinct needs.

Some of the effects of substance abuse on deaf and HOH people include:

  • Communication difficulties: Substance abuse can worsen existing communication challenges for deaf or HOH people, further isolating them from their support networks and making it harder to seek help.
  • Mental health issues: Substance abuse can lead to additional mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, which may be more challenging to address in deaf or HOH people due to communication barriers.
  • Increased risk of accidents: Intoxication can impair judgment and coordination, leading to a higher risk of accidents or injuries among people who are deaf or HOH, who may already face challenges navigating their environment.
  • Negative impact on relationships: Substance abuse can strain relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners, leading to further isolation and a reduced support network for deaf or HOH people.
  • Employment and financial problems: Addiction can negatively impact job performance and employment stability, leading to financial difficulties that may disproportionately affect deaf or HOH people who already face employment barriers.

What to Expect in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Friendly Rehab Centers

Rehab centers that are deaf and hard-of-hearing friendly aim to make deaf and hard-of-hearing people feel cared for, understood, and at home while undergoing addiction treatment.

You can expect the following features if you or one of your loved ones attends an accessible rehab center.

Accessible Inpatient Rehab Programs

People who are undergoing addiction treatment generally have a choice between inpatient and outpatient programs. However, their choice may be limited by financial factors or convenience if they are employed or in school.

Inpatient programs can be the right choice for people with more severe addictions who could benefit from 24/7 supervision or a more extended detoxification period.

People may also be more inclined to try inpatient or residential treatment if they have previously tried outpatient treatment and relapsed.

American Sign Language (ASL) Services

There are accessible facilities that typically employ staff, such as sign language interpreters who are proficient in American Sign Language (ASL). Such services help ensure clear communication and understanding during all therapy sessions, group meetings, and educational programs.

By offering ASL services, accessible rehab centers create an inclusive environment that caters to the unique needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, fostering a more effective recovery journey.

Sound Recording Materials

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may benefit from using certain types of auxiliary aids during their time in addiction treatment.

Types of auxiliary aids include assistive listening devices and systems, closed captioning, text telephones, videotext displays, and telephone handset amplifiers.

Outpatient Treatment Options

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may also have access to outpatient treatment options that are accessible, allowing them to seek treatment without any interruptions to their everyday life.

Outpatient treatment services can include multiple types of therapy, medical detox, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), case management, aftercare, and 12-step support groups.

Further, multiple levels of outpatient treatment are usually available, including regular outpatient, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).

Support Groups for Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing People

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may find it beneficial to attend recovery support groups that are specialized for people who are from the deaf community.

These groups can provide a vital sense of community and group support, where participants can share experiences about alcohol or drug abuse that can be more easily understood and accepted.

Twelve-step support groups, for example, often incorporate a spiritual component to addiction treatment, asking participants to admit themselves as powerless before a higher power.

Dual Diagnosis Care

Since many people who are deaf or hard of hearing also have mental health issues, their addiction treatment must address these issues as well whenever possible.

Dual diagnosis treatment is a type of care that aims to treat a person’s addiction while also treating any co-occurring mental or behavioral health issues they are experiencing.

How to Help a Person Who Is Deaf or HOH and Battling Substance Abuse

If you know someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and struggling with substance use disorder, there are steps you can take to help them find accessible treatment.

1. Talk to Them About Substance Misuse

The first step in helping someone you know who is deaf or HOH and battling addiction is to talk to them and let them know that you are worried about them.

Speak to your loved one in a way that does not place additional pressure on them and remember that what you say may be difficult for them to accept.

What your loved one may require, above all else, is simply someone to listen to them express their feelings and concerns.

Your loved one may not believe that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol and may have various reasons to support their belief.

2. Offer Recovery Support

Let your loved one know that you will support them throughout their recovery, no matter what kind of treatment they seek.

Offering your support can also mean offering transportation or companionship as your loved one attends appointments and meetings.

3. Provide Information on Accessible Treatment Options

If you can, try to do some research before your conversation with your loved one to find some accessible treatment options for them.

Accessible treatment options may be more difficult to find, but you may be able to find deaf-blind friendly addiction treatment on the SAMHSA website through

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Benefits of Addiction Treatment for People Who Are Deaf or HOH

Professional treatment can be beneficial to anyone who is seeking help during a dark time in their life. Still, it may even be especially beneficial to people who are in the deaf and HOH population.

Addiction treatment can provide additional benefits to people who are deaf or HOH that extend beyond their addiction and into their overall quality of life.

Some of the benefits of substance abuse treatment for people who are deaf or HOH include:

  • Improved overall health: Addressing substance abuse issues can improve physical and mental health, reducing the risk of chronic medical difficulties and prescription medication issues.
  • Reduced isolation: Connection with peers who share similar experiences fosters a sense of belonging and reduces the feelings of isolation often experienced by deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.
  • Enhanced coping skills: Learning adaptive coping strategies to manage stress, communication barriers, and other challenges specific to deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.
  • Access to inclusive support groups: Access to support groups such as closed-captioned Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, providing crucial resources for maintaining sobriety and staying engaged in recovery.
  • Greater access to resources: Specialized programs can provide information on accessible resources and support services, enabling deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals to navigate various aspects of life more effectively.

Cost of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Rehab Programs

People who are deaf or hard of hearing often face financial difficulties along with their disability, which means their ability to work, and thus income may be limited.

Here are some ways people who are HOH or deaf may find cost-friendly treatment.

Health Insurance for People Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

Some people who are deaf or hard of hearing may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if they have already worked for a set number of years.

SSDI is federally funded and pays benefits to people who are no longer able to work due to their disability.

In some states, people who are deaf or hard of hearing are also covered under Medicaid or Medicare. Both of these are state-funded insurance programs, the main difference being that Medicare is for people over 65.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may also have potential options for private health care or health care through their employers.

Payment Plans at Accessible Rehab Centers

Some alcohol and drug treatment centers that are accessible may offer payment plans or other types of financial assistance to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

In addition to payment plans, many rehab centers also offer services based on a sliding fee scale, meaning that they charge based on a person’s income.

Barriers to Addiction Treatment for People Who Are Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

Navigating the path to addiction treatment can be challenging, and deaf and hard-of-hearing people may encounter unique barriers that can make these challenges even more hindering.

Accessible alcohol and drug rehab programs work to address many of these barriers by providing hard-of-hearing and deaf individuals with environments where they can feel supported in their unique needs during recovery.

Some of the barriers that prevent people who are deaf or HOH from seeking addiction treatment include:

  • Lack of accessible communication: Inadequate access to interpreters, staff fluent in sign language, or communication accommodations in many treatment facilities makes it difficult for deaf or HOH individuals to participate fully in treatment programs.
  • Limited availability of specialized programs: Few addiction treatment centers specifically cater to the unique needs of deaf or HOH individuals, creating a scarcity of appropriate treatment options.
  • Stigma and discrimination: Deaf or HOH individuals may face stigma or discrimination within the healthcare system, discouraging them from seeking help for addiction issues
  • Financial barriers: Limited financial resources or inadequate health insurance coverage can prevent deaf or HOH individuals from accessing suitable addiction treatment programs.
  • Transportation challenges: Limited access to accessible public transportation or personal transportation options can create barriers for deaf or HOH individuals to attend treatment sessions or support groups
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Resources for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People Seeking Addiction Treatment

Fortunately, people who are deaf or hard of hearing have resources available to them as they begin to seek the help they need.

Resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing people seeking addiction treatment include:  

For local resources, you can also check with your primary care physician or any treatment providers you see for your hearing loss.

Find Help for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People Who Are Battling Addiction

Substance abuse is an issue that people no longer have to face alone, even people who may feel that their needs are too unique to be adequately addressed.

Accessible rehab centers and programs now exist to help people who are deaf or HOH as they navigate the challenges of recovery and also to provide a sense of community and a safe space as they share their experiences with others who can relate.

Whether the help you seek is for yourself or a loved one, please know that you are never alone, and the help you seek is out there. Reach out to SAMHSA today to find treatment options matching your needs.

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Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Anderson, M. L., Chang, B.-H., & Kini, N. (2019, April 5). Alcohol and Drug Use among Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals: A Secondary Analysis of NHANES 2013–2014. PubMed Central. Retrieved May 23, 2023, from
  2. Bennett, K. (2022). Financial Guide for the deaf and hard of hearing 2022. Bankrate. Retrieved May 23, 2023, from
  3. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (1998). Substance Use Disorder Treatment For People With Physical and Cognitive Disabilities. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved May 23, 2023, from
  4. Forbes Magazine. (2023, May 3). Deafness and hearing loss statistics. Forbes. Retrieved May 23, 2023, from
  5. NCHS Data Brief No. 414,. (2021, July 28). Hearing Difficulties Among Adults: United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 23, 2023, from
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Substance use disorder for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. SAMHSA. Retrieved May 23, 2023, from
  7. Warning signs of substance and alcohol use disorder: Information for family and friends. Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2023, from

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