Social workers from all areas of practice work with people affected by their own or someone else’s alcohol or other drug problems. Problematic substance use (alcohol and other drugs) is common within child and family social work practice, adolescent work and in mental health settings. Social workers working with older adults and people with learning difficulties also report increased substance use among their service user groups. It is important therefore that whichever group of people you are working with, you are prepared to identify and assess their substance use. Set within the wider context of a range of social work assessment processes, this requires few additional skills but it does require an understanding of what to ask, how to ask it and what to do with the responses you receive.
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