Subject Area

Health Care, Psychology, Rehabilitation Counseling, Social Work


Numerous barriers exist when attempting to provide culturally appropriate substance use disorder (SUD) treatment to persons who are Deaf, including a lack of accessible community-based treatment providers. To address these barriers, the Deaf Off Drugs and Alcohol (DODA) Program has provided culturally and linguistically appropriate cessation and recovery support services via a telemedicine program to Deaf individuals who are clinically diagnosed with a SUD. This study was conducted to assess whether an online SUD treatment program, such as DODA, is an effective way to serve the Deaf population, which is underserved due to communication and other cultural barriers. DODA’s effectiveness was analyzed using five outcome measures: the Substance Abuse Screener in American Sign Language, substance use items from the Addiction Severity Index, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and Beck Depression Inventory, which were administered before SUD treatment and six months after SUD treatment began. The intake and 6-month follow-up scores on the five selected outcome measures were compared between 8 Deaf individuals enrolled in the DODA program and 87 Deaf individuals receiving SUD services in specialized residential treatment settings for deaf individuals. The outcomes for Deaf consumers who receive online SUD treatment from DODA were compared to the outcomes for Deaf individuals who receive culturally appropriate residential SUD treatment. Significant differences between pre- and 6-month follow-up scores for all five outcome measures were found for both the online and residential treatment programs. In contrast, no significant differences were observed between outcome measures for the online and residential treatment programs, suggesting that the online treatment program may be as effective as the residential treatment programs.