Social Work: Components of Working in the Substance Abuse Field

1) The critical components of professional practice while working in the substance abuse field: I. Engagement: – This process continues throughout all of the stages, or components. Engagement involves building rapport with the client but because people with substance abuse problems are often scared, emotional, defensive and unable to trust this can be difficult. Preparing prior to the initial interview is very important as well as limiting any interruptions while meeting with your client. II. Assessment: Assessment of a person with a possible substance abuse problem can be very complicated. First step is to find out if the client is suffering from substance abuse or substance dependency. The various dimensions of an assessment are biological, psychological and social. – The biological assessment can be done by reviewing their medical history and current health and can provide clues to any medical treatment needed. – The psychological dimension involves reviewing the clients mental health history to determine if there may be any underlying mental disorder.

Questions about anxiety levels, depression, unresolved trauma or grief are asked then shifts to the reasons for starting, stopping and continuing the behavior. – The social dimension involves engaging the client in review the various people in their life: family, friends, co-workers and other social networks. Who supports them, where is there tension and stress, what relationships have been affected by the behavior, etc… – Strength based assessments focuses on what the client wants in their life and tends to me more motivating.

Exploring the strengths in addition to the negative provides a better balance and is respectful. – Once the assessment has been made, the next step is to develop an intervention plan that is unique to the situation and the client. III. Intervention: Interventions focus on work at many different systems levels, from individuals and families to organizations and communities. In addition, include inpatient detoxification to help with the initial withdrawal and pre-existing medical problems. There is behavioral approach that involves changing behavior by using positive and negative reinforcement.

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Social workers are involved in cases regarding traffic accidents and fatalities, child abuse, suicide, alcohol and substance abuse, mental health emergencies and family disputes. Social workers provide crisis intervention, brief individual or family counseling, referrals, victim assistance as well as community crime prevention efforts. Home visits, crime scene crisis work, and increasingly involved in crime prevention work in the community by leading action efforts related to the development of youth services, drug courts and even in the reform of mental commitment laws.

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