Addiction Social Worker

Nowadays  ,addiction and substance abuse  have been  regarded as  the   most  serious  social problems across the world, thus a social worker, which is an expert over the arena of addiction services, widely known as the forefront in this respect.

Helping  those  who are encountered  in substance abuse disorder, and this  challenges all the skills of a social worker.

The majority of the individuals who are   suffered  from the addiction problem, reveal the signs of the mental illness and these people have cognitive impairment as well.

In order to ensure that they are able to reach the high level of quality life and to keep it well ,they need special treatment procedure.

Addiction social workers are professionals help the clients to overcome the addictive-related behaviors with regard to drug abuse and the other stimuli resulted in adverse effects ,in addition to providing counseling services to the addict family.

Treatment programs ,patient counseling in private an in group sessions and clients assessment have been mainly provided by social workers. The duties of an addiction social worker may be at variance with his /her  position, but  you will be a member of a multi-disciplinarian team of  doctors ,nurses  and  social service workers. Your clinical  ability and understanding of  the  disease as  a social issue will  allow  you to provide appropriate direction to the team.

While the majority of people perceive the narcotic  and alcohol  as the most prevalent addictive substances, a large number of addictive drugs and behaviors  are prevalent which are identified by social workers and later on treated  and some drugs which can induce the compulsory behaviors and dependency are as follows:

  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • unlawful drugs
  • prescription drugs
  • some kinds of food
  • gambling
  • sexual intercourse
  • pornography
  • shopping
  • theft
  • video games
  • some types of work.

Individuals who are dependent on addictive drugs or alcohol ,often experience outstanding physical side-effects with regard to addiction ,and those who exhibit more behavioral addictions may not show the explicit physical symptoms and  challenges in relation to their treatment are more complex.

Addiction social workers with adopting of the knowledge of mental and behavioral  disorders, substance abuse and chemical dependency, and with specialty in the area of assessment ,treatment and medical interventions help the individuals to over come the addiction and return to healthy natural life.

Why do we need addiction social worker?

Like  most of the other mental health problems, the addiction is not prejudice-based.

However ,when the majority of people think of addiction, promptly the images of  poor neighborhoods formed in their minds, in deed ,this problem affects everyone.

Addiction not only affects the addict but also influences every person close to them.

It seems that various types of problems endanger the addicts.

In order to settle these issues and prevent the future problems,  the addicts must request help on behalf of addiction social workers and the other similar experts.

Only after the appropriate treatment, the most addicts follow the route of recovery and far away from the destructive aftereffects.

Time Tunner  senior behavioral   health policy maker in USA hospitals says that “social workers play a key role in working with the individuals who are inflicted with addiction and alcohol, they cover the treatment and cure procedures and working with addict family.

National association for social workers of US: social workers considered the major providers of mental health services and thus it is natural  that they would directly engaged in the treatment and recovery of the addicts.

Addiction to alcohol and addictive substances have an adverse effects on various parts of character and deeds of the individuals ,therefore a profession with the most challenging trainings must be needed  to identify the diverse aspects.

Addiction social worker duties:

A social worker over the realm of addiction often has different duties and responsibilities such as:

  • Assessment
  • cure planning
  • goal setting
  • case management

Assessment: patient evaluating or client  is one of the responsibilities of a social worker , the assessment of the addiction encompasses the identifying the type of the addiction of an individual who suffers from it, and its intensity and what creates and boosts this.

The initial assessment not only focuses on the level and nature of the beliefs of the clients who consume those addictive substances but also concentrated on identifying the social issues that may affect  the addiction process.

These include such worries like unemployment, level of education, the common situation of the life of the clients and family background, financial status  ,language , culture or worries on the race, participating in gang groups or violent behavior or criminal acts. Mental assessment is deemed an instrument to determine the mental illnesses  physical illnesses and the family health history. Moreover, this is regarded as the basics of cure and treatment plan and fundamental treatment which outlined the patient awareness path.

Cure plan:

After the initial assessment, an addiction social worker can then outline a treatment plan. When creating this plan, an addiction social worker will often take into account such things as what types of treatments will work for the patient based on such things as the type of addiction he suffers from and his lifestyle. Treatments may include stays in rehabilitation facilities, counseling, and therapy.

Cure plan, expound the advanced treatments through a multi-disciplinarian team and these cure plans encompass essential treatments and recommendations and the other helpful guiding tools for the life style such as life programs and specialized skills and along with these lines some goals for assessing the progress and every arbitration  which is prescribed by psychiatrist and physician .

Goal setting

Social workers in the realm of addiction  with collaboration of multi-disciplinarian team create goals as  parts of treatment programs with regard to the clients.

A goal may be   a set of  treatment sessions or attending the particular type of specialized cure centers or a group in home to be completed.

Goals are significant not only for the team but also they encourage the clients to experience the success and crucial accomplishments.

Monitoring an addict’s progress is another important duty of an addiction social worker. These professionals will keep track of the accomplishments that addicts make during their treatment.

However, treatment and recovery is regarded as a private topic and non linear, addiction social workers assess the  relative progress of the patents through some indices which are presented in this evaluation process.

An addiction social worker will also help addicts set goals during their treatment and recovery. Examples of goals for an addict during recovery may include checking himself into an addiction facility or staying away from his vice for a certain amount of time. Goals are an extremely important part of the addiction recovery process, because they give addicts something to work toward as well as a sense of accomplishment. Monitoring an addict’s progress is another important duty of an addiction social worker. These professionals will keep track of the accomplishments that addicts make during their treatment. An addict’s progress can help an addiction social worker determine whether or not the treatment plan is working, and it can help keep the patient going down the road to recovery.

Case management

Addiction social workers are typically responsible for the administration and management of client case files, maintaining full documentation of the treatments, service providers, case details, and client progress. They are responsible for updating team members with any information that might require their attention or intervention..

Social worker duties at BA level

  • Patient management practice
  • the services coordination
  • Referral practice or activities
  • Providing some debates on the strategies and giving the clients some training

Social worker duties at MA level

  • Engaging in sessions with respect to personal and in group treatment
  • Diagnosis, creating and maintaining the treatments programs.
  • Supervising and monitoring the clients regularly in order to insure that the clients receive the appropriate services and insure that those plans are consistent with cure plan.
  • In some cases, the courts may engaged and involved due to criminal acts of the clients.

In this situation MA social work functions as a facilitator and must exhibit the documents.

Important skills of an addiction social worker

The addiction is an issue of importance and regarded by many as complex and most often become much more complex with secondary diagnosis and some decease like diabetes heart problems and some mental illness.

Further, the second or third diagnosis means that a social worker must be more aware of the dynamics and complexity of the patient.

Clients assessment may be more complex and diverse, since patients with common disorders most often experience the most serious sentimental, physical and mental illnesses and probably they may return to repetition phase. Therefore, having some skills and capabilities are essential which include:

  • knowledge
  • communication
  • patience
  • tolerance
  • high level of ethics
  • flexibility


Social workers must understand the medical issues as well as the psychological facets of addiction. Their skill at counseling techniques, and their understanding of diagnostic procedures, therapeutic options, and mental health indicators are all important to the well-being of their clients. But, specifically, they must understand their individual clients and the nature of their addictions so they can recognize changes in symptoms and behavior.


Addiction social workers are typically the critical interface between clients and the multidisciplinary team. As active, perceptive listeners, social workers stay current with clients’ changing needs and conditions. They are often the first to catch behavioral warning signs, enabling the team to act proactively when new therapeutic responses are needed.

Social workers are mainly responsible for providing the provisions so as to patients can be better cured. In compliance with clients status ,these so called provisions can be  various and include  providing  suitable facilities in relation to rehabilitation , transportation  or  child care program setting , and helping the clients to obtain residential accommodation and  providing the food and financial aiding to them.

Social workers make sure that their clients have access to the programs which are regarded as fundamental over the process of the recovery.

In certain situations, while the level of access is limited, their responsibility covers supporting them and this is the goal of reception.


Social workers are able to work with more challenging patients and in this regard they must have an ability to keep all of the, their relation with clients commonly is time-consuming and the issues with regard to the addict often takes the cycle  form  . Social workers must have patience over this process, since they again review the subjects for several times.


In this way they must be capable of resolving a new issue regarding the client and make a difference in terms of innovate something new , in addition to being obliged to make the best of their efforts to aid them in every possible technique or method regardless how long they collaborate with each other. This tolerance is deemed an essential skill over the course of the time.

Having a high level of ethics within their practice

Any type of addiction may lead to an ethical conduct, and Social workers must be competent ethically and possess a high level of morale.

They must demonstrate why an unethical behavior is deemed as wrong and in this respect, it become as valueless one.


Social workers concerned with a wide variety of clients and they must be flexible in order to act appropriately and perform efficiently and alter the strategy and then provide the most appropriate service to each of their clients as well.


It is a bit difficult for a Social worker to fully find out the challenges of an addict and this problem become much more complex if a Social worker fail to recognize the decisions of an addict who is not suffered from his or her addiction. However, an able Social worker must find himself or herself in the lieu of the clients and have a sound understanding of their troubles.

The challenges which are faced by addiction Social workers

  • Challenging clients:

Clients who are inflicted with addiction regarded as most challenging and it takes a lot of time to be honest with Social workers and invariably they are prone to cheat and feel that they need to   hide the truth over the various conditions of each part of their own life and this makes the working with the addicts more troublesome and even unfavorable and futile for Social workers, since the assessment and cure processes  in relation to the programs are based on the data they give.

  • Administration

Working with the clients suffered from the addiction means that the Social workers must perform according to the order and law with high level of accuracy, they must design the treatment planning for every patient and follow the route of the progress and record it and provide different reports for different organizations and sections.

  • Repetition

The addicts may return to the  past status or technically speaking the process of  repetition may occur and this is more severe for a Social worker to deal with and they must begin again and must believe that perhaps this is the real time of the change of the clients.

  • No cure

The problems over the addiction are issues that the clients struggle with them to the rest of their life, no time in relation to success for treatment upon them exist. Social workers over the addiction issues do not insure that the addiction ends while the addicts are struggling with it and they are not pretty sure that the plans and programs must work properly and these free of charge services may not always be keep for them.

Educational requirements for addiction social workers.

The majority of primary opportunity job need high school diploma. These positions are limited to fundamental duties such as observing the clients assisting them in order to resolve the basic needs and to make sure that the security of the clients are achieved.

BA degree for needed for positions which require more responsibilities.

BA level

In BA level .various population understanding, theories in relation to the human behavior, advocating the social welfare policies and social services have been taught.

At under graduate level ,students before graduating must complete apprenticeship under the supervision or a practical course.

MA level

To practice addiction social work in its full capacity a master’s degree is highly recommended. To enter a master of social work program (MSW) there might be an application process that will include several steps. Schools generally will look for applicants that have had some personal experience that has given them a drive to help others. During the application process students have the opportunity to write a personal essay. Students express their abilities and desires to the academic team that will make the determination of who will be chosen for participation in the Master program.

Master of Social Work students spend on average 2 years in study. There are programs at several colleges and universities that offer part time attendance; part time programs require that course work be completed within 3 years. An MSW will prepare the student for work in addiction services by developing their clinical assessment skills, and preparing the student to supervise others in their chosen career.

While completing a master’s level degree in social work, students will often be allowed to pursue collaborative programs. One such program is addiction studies. In addition to taking their regular course load of social work and related classes, students in this program will have to complete a number of addition-related classes. Notable examples include social work intervention in substance abuse, drug prevention, alcohol, drugs, and health policy, dual disorders, and psychology of drug use and effects. This collection of courses is intended to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of drugs, their effects, the psychology of using these substances, and how to interact with suspected and known users of these substances.

Where Does an Addiction Social Worker Work?

  • Addiction treatment centers
  • outpatient cure centers
  • medical hospitals
  • mental health centers
  • medical and hygiene centers

Social Workers are also found in local, state, and federal agencies ensuring that proper regulations and policies are in place to help those in need.

 The Salary and Job Outlook for Addiction Social Worker

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the median income for a substance abuse social worker is $44,420. The prediction for job growth for Social Workers between 2012 and 2022 is 19%, this is higher than average for this period.



Research by: Fateme Mohammady

Social Worker and Active addiction fild

professional collection of Iranian Social workers




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