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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

Research on Addictions among people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Definition of Addiction
According to the former head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health:

“Drug addiction is a brain disease that develops over time as a result of the initially voluntary behavior of using drugs. (Drugs include alcohol.)

The consequence is virtually uncontrollable compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use that interferes with, if not destroys, an individual’s functioning in the family and in society. This medical condition demands formal treatment.”
Alan Lashner, MD

Addiction in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities

“Understanding of substance abuse in the Deaf Community lags far behind that of the general hearing community,” according to Debra Guthmann and Katherine A. Sandberg from the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals. People who are hard of hearing may have the same knowledge as the general population, but are at very high risk due to the sense of loss and isolation that may occur with hearing loss.

Guthman and Sandberg site the few studies that have been done on this topic, concluding that substance abuse is a significant problem in the Deaf community. Since much of this research was done over 15 years ago, things may be worse today!

“Dr. William Mc Crone (1994), projects that there are approximately 5,105 deaf crack users, 3,505 deaf heroin users, 31,915 deaf cocaine users and 97,745 deaf marijuana users in the U.S. today. The National Council on Alcoholism suggests that at least 600,000 individuals experience both alcoholism and hearing loss (Kearns, 1989). Most professionals familiar with substance abuse and deafness identify a level of substance abuse that is at least equal to the traditional field estimate of eight to ten percent in the general population (Grant, et al, 1988).”
( articles/treatment_ad.htm)

The Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals ( has published a number of articles on the implications of substance abuse for people with hearing loss. Click here for a complete listing (

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