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Health & Social Care careers

Social Care: Alcohol & Substance Misuse

Why help with alcohol & substance misuse?

More often than not, people don’t know that they’re misusing alcohol or drugs until something significantly bad happens. For example, seeing a family member suffer, or losing a friend, could be the wake-up call they needed. However, most people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs don’t seek professional help, simply because they don’t think they have a problem.

Careers in this area of social care involve raising the awareness of the problems associated with alcohol and substance misuse and working with service users that need help.   

Why is this field so important?

Sticking to the recommended levels of alcohol consumption is not that easy for some people, particularly if they become reliant on alcohol to relieve stress or escape problems. Persistent abuse of alcohol can cause detrimental effects to people’s health, lead them into dangerous situations and create other social problems.

Any position working in this area of social care would relate to the physical, psychological and social problems of drinking too much. Although it’s an entirely different ball game when treating and caring for people who are substance abusers, the support you offer is actually quite similar.

It’s by no means an easy job. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll be dealing with people in pretty terrible states. A lot of the time they won’t even admit that they need help. It’s essential to be thick-skinned and be prepared to deal with anything.

Sometimes alcohol and drug abuse can lead to other issues as well, such as domestic violence or mental health issues. Consequently, it’s important to know how to refer service users to other social care workers, where you’re not able to help.

Most importantly, you’ll need to be an excellent communicator with top-notch personal skills. The people you’re dealing with will have to trust you before you can help them. After all, they’re not going to want help from someone who looks down on their problem, so you’ll have to be as non-judgemental as possible.

What will my role be in this field?

If you pursue a career in this area, your social care responsibilities will revolve around giving counselling sessions, arranging for the provision of medication and leading self-help groups.

Medication serves to cut down service users’ thirst for drugs or alcohol. The most famous medication of this kind is methadone, which helps to wean people off heroin. Self-help groups are a great place for service users to work together, share their experiences and help each other to combat their addictions.

You might organise and take part in group sessions or provide one-on-one counselling. In other situations, you’ll be responsible for referring service users to doctors when necessary. Others roles can include manning the phones at Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcohol Concern or FRANK.

You can’t open a newspaper these days without reading some alarming statistic about youngsters in Britain getting intoxicated and becoming increasingly reliant on booze and drugs to have a good time. Therefore, a lot of social care workers dedicate their time to promoting their services in schools, colleges and universities, or even on television or the radio.

It’s all about getting to the source of the problem before it gets out of hand. If you can see yourself helping the vulnerable to rehabilitate, recover and get themselves clean, then this incredibly important and rewarding career path might be perfect for you.