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Washington, D.C. Drug Rehab

The District of Columbia has some of the highest rates of drug abuse in the nation, often ranking in the top 5 most addicted places. D.C.'s competitive and high-stress culture may contribute to the high levels of drug abuse in the district.

Addiction Treatment in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.In 2011, over 60 percent of treatment admissions in the District of Columbia involved heroin, crack or cocaine. There are over 50 certified addiction treatment programs in D.C., and more people than ever are getting help.

The District of Columbia has addiction treatment programs for everyone, whether you’re looking for something nearby and affordable or something more private and high-end.

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People often travel outside the metro area to surrounding states, such as Maryland or Virginia, for residential treatment. This allows them to step away from the fast pace and pressures of the city and focus on their recovery.

D.C. also has highly rated outpatient treatment programs geared toward career-driven individuals who want to keep working during treatment.

Top Inpatient Rehab Near D.C.

Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic

Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic

Just 20 minutes outside the district, Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic is one of the closest residential treatment centers to D.C.

Located in Arlington, Virginia, this renowned rehab has a full staff of physicians, psychiatrists and substance abuse counselors. The treatment program at Phoenix House meshes the 12-step approach with behavioral therapy for co-occurring mental health issues. There are residential facilities for men, women and teens.

This rehab also provides medication to help with drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Phoenix House accepts several health insurance plans and offers financing options for those who need it.

Traveling Out of D.C. for Residential Treatment
Busy metropolitan areas can be a distraction from addiction treatment, which is why many people living in D.C. choose to travel out of the district. Traveling for treatment also removes the addicted person from the environment associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Some people travel across the country to prestigious rehabs in sunnier atmospheres, and some take a short drive to a nearby treatment center in secluded, country settings.Drug and alcohol rehabs, near and far, that DC residents may travel to include:

  • Serenity Acres – Crownsville, MD (33 miles east of D.C., 50 minute drive)
  • Clarity Way Luxury Rehab – (80 miles north, 2.1 hour drive)
  • Caron Foundation – Wernersville, PA (145 miles north, 3 hour drive)
  • The Farley Center – Williamsburg, VA (154 miles south, 2.5 hour drive)
  • Hazelden Betty Ford – Minnesota, Florida, California, Oregon (various)

Intensive Outpatient Treatment at the Kolmac Clinic

Outpatient support groupOperating for over 30 years, the Kolmac Clinic is an intensive outpatient rehab in the center of Washington, D.C. This treatment center specializes in treating professionals who can’t afford to take time away from work.

The treatment plan at the Kolmac Clinic consists of three phases: detox, rehabilitation and continuing care.

The detox process at the Kolmac Clinic involves prescribing medication to minimize withdrawal symptoms and gradually reducing the patient’s dose over time.

After detox, Kolmac provides three-hour group therapy and education sessions five days a week. These sessions take place morning or night and are held in small groups averaging 12 people. Sessions become less frequent until members transition into the continuing care phase, which is a weekly group therapy session designed to foster long-term sobriety.

Insurance may cover all or part of treatment at Kolmac. If a patient’s insurance isn’t accepted or doesn’t cover the full cost of treatment, the clinic also offers payment plans.

Drug Abuse in Washington, D.C.

D.C. has a long history of drug use and addiction, often ranking among the highest rates of substance abuse in the nation. Each year, cocaine and crack are consistently the most abused drugs in D.C. People arrested in the district test positive for cocaine more than any other other drug.

Synthetic marijuana abuse has also become a growing problem in D.C. The number of people making trips to the emergency rooms from synthetic drug overdoses is steadily increasing.

Between 2012 and 2013, there were approximately 20 hospitalizations from synthetic marijuana overdoses per month. The number of these incidents started climbing in 2014. By 2015, a report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers showed the number of incidents had risen to 20 hospitalizations per day in Washington, D.C. alone.

Addiction and Drug Abuse Statistics in D.C.


In 2007, 37 percent of people arrested in Washington, D.C. tested positive for cocaine.


In June 2015, 439 people were hospitalized due to synthetic marijuana abuse.


From 2007 to 2015, HIV transmission rates between intravenous drug users dropped by 80 percent.

Washington, D.C., Marijuana Laws

The Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014 made recreational marijuana use legal for the first time ever in D.C. The initiative amended D.C. Code 48-904.01, the District of Columbia’s Controlled Substances Act. The law went into effect in February 2015.

Since 2015, the law allows DC residents to:

  • Possess up to two ounces of marijuana
  • Grow up to six cannabis plants at home, three of which can be mature
  • Use and sell drug paraphernalia for the purposes of growing or processing marijuana
  • Transfer (without payment) up to one ounce of marijuana to another person over the age of 21

Although marijuana is legal, there are still consequences for using, possessing or distributing the drug unlawfully. For example, those in possession of more than two ounces of marijuana can face misdemeanor charges, six months incarceration and a $1,000 fine.

Addiction Treatment Services in D.C.

Washington, D.C., provides many services to addicted people. Some of the services prevent harm to current drug users and others help addicted people get sober. If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction in D.C., these services may be able to help you:

  • Syringe Exchanges
    A big focus of harm reduction advocates in D.C. is preventing the spread of communicable diseases like HIV. In 2009, the rates of HIV in the district were at epidemic proportions. Thanks to programs that give intravenous drug users access to clean syringes, the rates of HIV transmission have been rapidly declining in D.C.
  • Naloxone Training and Distribution
    Naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of heroin and other opiates, is widely available in Washington to both medical and non-medical personnel. Naloxone has saved lives, working as an antidote during potentially fatal overdose situations. Organizations throughout the district provide naloxone and offer training on how to properly administer the drug.
  • Washington, D.C. 911 Good Samaritan Law
    D.C. has a Good Samaritan law that protects people from being charged or arrested for possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia if they call 911 for help during an overdose (theirs or someone else’s). The law only accounts for the possession of small amounts of drugs; it doesn’t protect those with the intent to traffic drugs.
  • The Drug Treatment Choice Program
    In Washington, D.C., residents have access to drug detox, residential treatment and outpatient services based on their level of need. This is part of the Drug Treatment Choice Program maintained by the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA). This program is a great option for those in D.C. looking for treatment covered by Medicaid or Medicare, as well as those who don’t have any form of insurance. APRA also provides addiction treatment specifically for adolescents.

Find Help in and Around Washington, D.C.

There are many addiction treatment options for residents of Washington to take advantage of. Whether you’re searching for an outpatient treatment center to maintain an already busy schedule, or you’re looking for a relaxing residential center, there are countless rehab options for those in the D.C. area. Get in touch with one of our treatment specialists for help finding treatment now.

Sources & Author Last Edited: June 6, 2017

  1. Patterns and Trends of Drug Abuse in the Baltimore/Maryland/Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area—Epidemiology and Trends: 2002–2013. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  2. Drug Policy Alliance. Washington, DC. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  3. District of Columbia Board of Elections. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  4. NORML. District of Columbia Laws & Penalties. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  5. Department of Behavioral Health. Adult Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  6. Washington Post. The scariest thing about synthetic drugs is everything that’s unknown. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  7. Mic. (2014). Which Drug Is Your State Most Addicted to? This Map Reveals a Disturbing Trend. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  8. Vice. (2015). How Washington DC Cut Its Epidemic-Level HIV Rate by 40 Percent. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  9. The Washington Times. (2015). Synthetic drug overdoses averaging 20 per day in D.C.: report. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  10. University of Maryland. Patterns and Trends of Substance Abuse in Washington, D.C. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  11. Phoenix House. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
  12. The Kolmac Clinic. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from:
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