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Drug Usage and Deaf People  

Michelle Whitney




Drug Usage and Deaf People


We tend to ignore those who do not affect our lives. Most people don't see the influence that other cultures have on their own. If members of another culture aren't communicating with us, then we think nothing of them. They mean nothing to us. There is a lack of knowledge regarding how to interact with Deaf people. This lack of knowledge leads to fewer resources being made available to help Deaf individuals in need of assistance.  Deaf individuals make due with a fraction of the resources that Hearing people do in the world. As you're walking up to a cash register in a store, you don't see someone signing to you. In a hospital a doctor isn't signing to you either. The lack of people knowing sign language affects the Deaf.  Communicating with others is necessary for a healthy way of life.

Deaf children often have a lack of drug awareness. Drugs affect a Deaf person's body the same as they do a hearing person. Drugs enter the blood stream and take control of the brain. It affects the way people feel and the way they act. They can cause a lot of damage to the body.

Communication is often a big problem when a Deaf child has Hearing parents. Deaf children have a hard time telling their parents what is going on in their life. This makes the connection between the child and the parents almost nonexistent. When a Hearing child is using drugs the parents can see the symptoms by the way the child doesn't talk or by a change in language or behavior. A Deaf child doesn't talk to their parents and often shies away already. Their symptoms are often over looked and not recognized as a problem. Deaf children often face more stress in their lives then Hearing children. This stress can often lead to drug abuse.  They can't communicate to just anybody. The lack of friends, the lack of love and being accepted by others is every stressful. This stress will often lead to drug use.  Deaf people have a hard time going into programs for drug abuse. Many services aren't available. Unlike Hearing people they cannot communicate in sessions without an interpreter. It's hard enough to find and get through a drug abuse program. Finding a program and being able to get through that program while being Deaf is another obstacle in itself. Additionally, many Deaf people find it hard to find transitional living after residential living. There are few programs that will work with the Deaf.

When a Deaf person is being arrested they have no one they can communicate with to help them understand what is going on. The officer may be reading their rights but is anyone signing to them? How much will they understand? Judges and others will often use a piece of paper and a pen to communicate to a Deaf person in court. They may provide information in written form to the Deaf person about the trial.  There is very little help for the Deaf to go through this process. While a Deaf person is in prison they are often attacked by other inmates not for being different but for not being able to talk. Other inmates think Deaf people are being disrespectful, when not being able to understand commands.  Some prisons do not have a telecommunication device for the Deaf  (TTY). That makes it hard to communicate with loved ones.

There needs to be more common knowledge of the Deaf.  Interpreters are needed in all court rooms.  Deaf children need to have knowledge of drug abuse. Programs for Deaf people with drug abuse issues need to be established.  Some big cities are trying to help the Deaf population with substance abuse. They're coming up with tools to help the Deaf better communicate  but funding is a problem. Funding needs to be available to such programs to better serve the Deaf community.  



Bitco David(2012,June.5).CrimeDime.

Fesler, Nathan(2009, April.4). Drug Problem Among Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals

Harvel, Wayne(2008, March.27). Substance abuse and the Deaf --ASL University.


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