Substance Use Disorders

Addiction takes on many forms – alcohol and drugs among them.  The effects of addiction disabilities are varied and many; blindness to reality is one. What started to help one get through the day or even just for recreation becomes something that becomes part of every day. Addiction happens insidiously and it often isn’t noticed until it’s too late.  One might feel locked into the life they’re leading, but there is help for addiction. No one should feel stigmatized, feel like another statistic, or feel like a criminal.

Physical Signs Of Addiction

  • Over-active or under-active (depending on the drug)
  • Repetitive speech patterns
  • Dilated pupils, red eyes
  • Excessive sniffing and runny nose (not attributable to a cold)
  • Looking pale or undernourished
  • Clothes do not fit the same
  • Weight loss
  • Change in eating habits
  • Unusual odors or body odor due to lack of personal hygiene

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

  • Missing work/school
  • Work/school problems
  • Missing important engagements
  • Isolating/secretive about activities
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Legal problems
  • Relationship/marital problems
  • Financial problems (e.g. always needing money)
  • Conversations dominated by using or drug/alcohol related topics

Emotional Signs of Addiction

  • Irritability/Argumentative
  • Defensiveness
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Loss of interest in activities/people that used to be part of their lives
  • Obnoxious
  • Silly
  • Confused easily
  • Denial
  • Rationalizing – Offering alibis, excuses, justifications, or other explanations for their using behavior
  • Minimization – Admitting superficially to the problem but not admitting to the seriousness or full scope of the behavior or consequences
  • Blaming – Placing the blame for the behavior on someone else or some event
  • Diversion – Changing the subject to avoid discussing the topic

Three Cs of Addiction

  • Loss of control over the amount and frequency of use
  • Craving and compulsive using
  • Continued use in the face of adverse consequences

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction disability, the following nonprofit organizations and public resources may be referred to for help.  Change and recovery are possible.

Government Resources + Services

  • MyRecovery DC: MyRecovery is a public education campaign with an online service that helps DC residents who use opioids, alcohol, and other drugs find treatment and recovery services in their neighborhood. As part of Live.Long.DC, this program of the District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) seeks to increase the use of the District’s treatment and recovery services by increasing access to and reducing the stigma surrounding drug use and treatment. includes real stories of recovery, a connection to Certified DC Peers, and a directory of treatment and recovery services by Ward.
  • DC Substance Use Disorder Services: The Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) certifies a network of community based providers in the public behavioral health system to provide substance use disorder services including detoxification, residential and outpatient services based on the level of need.  It also provides a range of prevention and recovery services.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Local Nonprofit Programs + Services

  • Whitman-Walker Health | Substance Use Services: Substance Use Services at Whitman-Walker has its roots in a volunteer-led telephone helpline for gay alcoholics that started in the mid-1970s. Since this beginning, the department and program offerings have evolved, adapting to the needs of community and integrating new language, science, and research. We provide services to individuals regardless of sexual orientation but have special expertise in working with LGBTQ communities.
  • Whitman-Walker Health | Co-occurring Outpatient Program (Co-OP): Co-OP is an ASAM Level 1.0, evening, abstinence-based program aimed at supporting those who experience problems related to both substance use and mental health issues. The purpose of the program is to help you achieve abstinence, sobriety, and recovery from alcohol and substance use, avoid or manage returns to use, and to stabilize common mental health challenges like depression and anxiety.

Rehabilitation Center Directories + Referral Resources