Working with Addicts

Published: 2018-01-23 15:45:43
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Addiction social worker

The Canadian government has realized the effect drug abuse has on the young population and has taken an initiative to employ social workers who assist in the rehabilitation process of the people struggling with substance abuse. The process has cost the taxpayers over $22.8 billion annually (Pearson, Janz & Ali, 2013). Social workers need to be informed about the broad and varying context that surrounds the lives of people and forms the social work practice. Their work has five contexts which include that their work should be done within set boundaries in a nation, region or state. Also, the political system of the area governs how they carry out their activities, the beliefs, and culture of the individuals as well the socio-economic which involves education, health facilities and the livelihood of the people. 

The spiritual context is based on the human or social work practice that focuses on the ethics, philosophies, and ideals of the people the workers work with (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). A structural perspective on social work refers to social workers making efforts to connect the duality of the social and personal, community and the individual and enable the social workers to have an understanding of the wide range of populations on social processes and reproduce or support social problems (Payne, 2014). Structural social work, therefore, acknowledges the function of social structures in maintaining and producing personal hardship and inequality. Structural social work externally affects the micro and macro issues, and it argues that structural forces in society such as criminal justice systems, government, and education systems are to blame for people’s problems. However, it is not correct in relation to alcohol and drug usage because most drug abusers engage in the act without influence from structural forces and their recovery is majorly a personal choice. 

Social workers deal with different groups of people as named above. One cannot, therefore, expect them to be experts in handling all groups and the task is left to the workers depending on who feel best to deal with the situation at hand best. Their major roles include motivating people to divert their problematic substance use behavior by supporting them, their carers and families and directing their behavior (Romach, Schoedel & Sellers, 2014). They engage in discussions of substance abuse as part of their role in supporting the users of their services, their dependents, and families. Additionally, they support people in their attempts to maintain and make changes in the use of drugs. 

Role of social workers in substance abuse

Discussions of the topic of substance abuse are important in social work practice. No person starts taking drugs with the intention of developing the habit that leads to addiction and affects their health. The substance users have however faced exclusion and discrimination from people in society. Working against the negativity and social injustice these people face is the role of the social workers as it is among their ethical and commitment requirements (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Social workers are skilled at building relationships and being willing to listen and not judging the individuals struggling with substance abuse. They draw on their strengths and offer them care. A social worker needs to focus on asking questions about substance use routinely to monitor the drug user’s progress during the treatment period. One also prepares to engage children, carers and family members to discuss how the family will offer support to the drug users (Vaughn & Perron, 2014). One identifies the range of effects the drugs may have on the substance abusers or people around him such as the dependents and children and find ways to explain to the drug user the problem the use of drugs is bringing to the family. The social worker on the other hand learns and fills the gaps in knowledge of substance use and the skills using continuing professional development. 

The social worker needs to take advanced training in particular frameworks of working with substance use to know how to handle the matters that he or she may encounter during work. They also take the initiative of working collaboratively with substance use services which include exchanging mutual knowledge on confidentiality, boundaries of care, and service models. They recognize stigma in the drug users and offer a non-judgemental practice that includes inclusionary approach and positive language (Goodman, 2013). They advanced social workers encourage the staff to reflect on the ethics of acre, risks, and attitudes relating to substance abuse and the individuals with the addiction. The experienced and advanced workers support and encourage less experienced colleagues in the engagement of handling drug abuse as part of their role. They have also shown commitment to the discussion of drug abuse and raising the issue in management and supervision roles to ensure each person taking part in social work plays his or her role to make everyone’s efforts successful.

There are various problems that social workers encounter related to drug abuse. They encounter occasional issues linked with substance use. A drug user may not be taking alcohol or drugs every day but they occasionally indulge them, and it leads to issues in their lives. Their regular indulgent may seem normal to the users, but it eventually causes harm to them. The users have daily or frequent problems linked with substance use. It occurs when one is undergoing a range of issues linked to drug abuse and it negatively affects one’s mental of physical health, their parenting ability, employment or financial status and relationship problems (Kuhar, 2012). The drug user may have also been involved in criminal acts. The other kinds of problems they may have encountered are previous issues but are not occurring currently. The person may have had an account of past issues but due to abstinence no longer encounters them. Social workers motivate the drug users to change the problematic drug abuse they face. 

The change model is a five-step process on how people think about an issue and later change their behavior. The first stage is pre-contemplation where no one thinks about behavior change. In the contemplation stage, the person struggling with substance abuse thinks about the issues but takes no action on the problem (Nasr & Phillips, 2014). In the preparation stage, one begins to plan how he or she can make changes. In the action phase, the drug user does something to make changes. For instance, one can decide to talk to someone on the drug and alcohol use. 

Finally, there is the maintenance stage where the person maintains the non-problematic level of use. The social workers enable the people struggling with substance abuse identify the motivation for social change and look for strategies to sustain it (Leyton, 2016). The support and motivation involve the discussion of the people struggling with substance abuse about their addiction and continuation of post-intervention support which involves being supportive to the families affected by their loved one’s addiction to substance use. The social worker assesses and identifies the use of substance including the risk to others and oneself, giving advice, onward referral and brief intervention to specialists and receiving and providing informed leadership and supervision. 

sheldon

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