Many nonprofit organizations strive to reduce substance abuse in the District through outreach, counseling services and school-based programs. There are also substance abuse and mental health rehab facilities located throughout Washington D.C.
In addition, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings can be found almost anywhere in the district. For a complete list of where and when these meetings are held, see below.
The District is surrounded by historic buildings, monuments and memorials. The National Mall is two miles of greenery that links the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol Building. You can visit memorials honoring veterans of the Vietnam War, Korean War, and World War II, as well as Arlington National Cemetery. Additional memorials pay tribute to Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum contains thousands of artworks, some of which date back to the 17th century. Also a branch of the Smithsonian Institution is the National Museum of Natural History, the African American History and Culture Museum, and the National Air and Space Museum. The District also includes the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the International Spy Museum, the Newseum, and dozens more.
The District has something for the sports fan and the music lover. The Verizon Center serves as a concert venue for numerous musicians. It is also home to the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and Georgetown Hoyas. Two miles away is Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals. Myriad shows are held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, EagleBank Arena, and The Birchmere.
The District and surrounding counties provide drug and alcohol prevention initiatives to reduce substance abuse.
The Department of Behavioral Health’s Prevention Services aims to reduce alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use among area youths. The program works to change perceptions, attitudes and behaviors associated with these substances through educational materials, resources and in-school training. Several prevention centers that promote drug-free lifestyles serve 120 neighborhoods throughout the city. The department’s Drug Free Youth DC campaign educates young people and parents about warning signs related to drug use and talking about and stopping substance abuse.
The Metropolitan Police Department strives to prevent substance abuse. Fun and Safe for Kids, a section of the MPD website, informs children about various risky behaviors, including drug use. The Drug Awareness and Vice Initiatives provide information about street drugs, local trends and resources. MPD is also part of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force’s efforts to combat the drug trade.
Fairfax County Government has made an effort to reduce substance abuse. The Merrifield Center provides free walk-in substance abuse screenings and assessments and offers Narcotics Anonymous meetings at its Peer Resource Center. The BeFriend-A-Child program connects at-risk children with adult mentors and promotes healthy decision-making among youths. Additionally, Fairfax County’s website provides information on the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services provides substance abuse assessments, screenings and referrals to low-income residents without commercial insurance. The program, ACCESS to Behavioral Health, also provides information about nearby mental health services. Its Screening and Assessment Services for Children and Adolescents (SASCA) program offers assessments and rehab referrals to county youths. It also provides information about drug and alcohol education seminars.
Fairfax County Government oversees Take Charge, an alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention program for youths aged 10–19. The program comprises two initiatives that provide information on the effects of tobacco, drug and alcohol use, peer pressure and the importance of abstinence. Other drug prevention programs include Too Good for Drugs, Girl Power and Road D.A.W.G.
Arlington County teens caught possessing alcohol or drugs can enroll in the Second Chance program. Second Chance is a monthly three-day workshop in which students learn about the effects, policies and long-term consequences of drug and alcohol use. The program also explores treatment and self-help options. A session for parents and guardians covers the effects of alcohol on brain development, signs and symptoms of substance abuse and talking to children about drugs.
In an effort to reduce prescription drug abuse, area residents can drop off unused, unneeded or expired prescription medications at verified locations. These medications may include Vicodin, Percocet, Xanax and Adderall. Drop off locations include police departments in Gaithersburg, Mount Rainier, Cheverly and Chevy Chase.
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Higher learning institutions in the Metropolitan area carry out programs and services to reduce substance abuse on their campuses.
American University’s website offers information and resources related to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and body image and eating disorders. Online mental health screenings associated with alcohol use, depression and anxiety disorders are also available. The university’s counseling center offers self-help resources, workshops and referral services. Students can also join a counseling group to gain the knowledge to overcome substance abuse.
Georgetown University’s Health Education Services offers free alcohol and drug-related counseling to its students. The school’s website provides students with information on eating and body image disorders for men and women, self-help groups and 24-hour hotlines. Its Social Norms Campaign shares facts about alcohol consumption, encourages responsible decisions among students and dismisses misconceptions associated with student drinking.
Howard University provides counseling services for drug- or alcohol-related issues. The Howard University Drug Education & Prevention Program educates students on the dangers drug and alcohol use and researches new information associated with the substances. The initiative also conducts screenings for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Additionally, HU P.E.E.R.S hosts presentations on issues effecting college students, including substance abuse. The Louis Stokes Health Science Library offers drug-related literature.
The University of the District of Columbia offers campus hotlines and self-help resources for students in recovery. Campaign 9:30 looks to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse through evidence-based practices. The campaign includes outreach activities, leadership workshops and educational forums, and is also seen at homecoming events. The school periodically hosts take-back programs, allowing students to drop off unused or expired medications at designated locations on campus.
George Washington University’s Health Promotion and Prevention Services promote healthy lifestyles. The Colonial Health Center (CHC) Peer Educators are a coalition of students who strive to spread information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Students for Recovery is a student-run recovery group for people overcoming substance abuse, eating disorders and mental health problems. Additionally, GW hosts a mocktail-making competition, alcohol-education workshops and an alcohol-free happy hour. The school’s Be Wiser campaign is a student pledge to make healthy, safe decisions on campus.
The Latin American Youth Center’s Substance Abuse Prevention Program provides outreach, prevention and outpatient services for youths and families. The center informs teens about the benefits of positive decision-making, and educates them on the effects of drugs and alcohol. The program also includes peer-education and leadership training workshops, and referrals. The goal of the program is to reduce substance abuse among adolescents in the District.
The Ward 7 Safe & Drug-Free Communities Coalition seeks to reduce youth access to alcohol and drugs. The group educates community members about the dangers of substance abuse, partners with local schools to spread awareness, and conducts research related to drugs and alcohol. The goal is to create a healthy and safe area for Ward 7 residents.
The Ward 8 Drug-Free Coalition serves the 12 neighborhoods within Ward 8. The coalition strives to reduce alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use through resources, community forums and numerous campaigns throughout the year. Representatives disperse drug prevention literature at liquor stores, shopping centers, gas stations and other areas frequented by adolescents.
Thrive DC works to prevent homelessness in the District through educational initiatives — including a substance abuse program. The 12-week program consists of educational groups, case management, counseling and treatment referrals. The organization educates the community on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use, triggers and cravings, emotional health and relapse prevention.
Next Step educates the community about the consequences of driving while intoxicated. Those charged with a DUI or DWI can enroll in its alcohol program, a 12-hour educational workshop held each week for six weeks. The purpose of the program is to inform individuals of the dangers drugs and alcohol has on driving.
The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County strives to reduce substance abuse among youths and young adults in the area. This is accomplished through education, advocacy and multiple partnerships with local and state governments. The coalition has campaigns related to drinking and driving, opioid and over-the-counter drug abuse and tobacco use. Its Project Sticker Shock campaign uses informational stickers to remind adults of the unlawfulness of providing alcohol to minors.
You can help reduce substance abuse in the District. Numerous organizations seek assistance in their prevention efforts.
Volunteers with Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington encourage healthy lifestyles among youths. One way they do this is through SMART Moves, a comprehensive drug, alcohol and tobacco prevention program. SMART Moves includes interactive group activities that teach young people how to deal with peer pressure, say no and make healthy life decisions.
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Washington works to help reduce homelessness and associated problems, including substance abuse. Volunteers can support individuals facing addiction or mental health problems through prevention, intervention and advocacy.
Horton’s Kids uses educational initiatives to assist at-risk adolescents in the District’s Ward 8 achieve success. Volunteers can mentor youths, help them with homework and engage in various activities with them on the weekends. Adult volunteers establish relationships with children living in areas plagued by drug use.