Substance Abuse Social Work is a subfield of social work that includes focused work with individuals struggling from substance use and addiction. Degree programs in this field can prepare you to work with clients that seek out help independently or those that are receiving treatment through substance abuse centers or the court system.

Substance Abuse Social Work Degree Programs

The degree programs that train social work professionals in this field can be found at multiple universities across the U.S. Educational training in Substance Abuse Social Work can include assessing clients for level of addiction and needed services, as well as service coordination for clients with multiple needs.

If you were to choose a degree in Substance Abuse Social Work upon entering a university program, you might spend some time learning about the biological and environmental factors leading to addiction, as well as the physical and emotional effects of the disorder.

Each course within this degree program can provide you with more insight into the factors that discourage or support addictions, so that you can provide meaningful support to those you serve. Intervention services and long-term support programs can also be helpful tools learned during your degree experience.

This type of degree program may be growing more popular as communities focus harder on finding preventative programs and support for drug users and their families. Educational training in this area could make you a valuable resource for families struggling with the effects of addiction in your community.

Online Substance Abuse Social Work Programs

One of the most popular degree options for students seeking a career in Substance Abuse Social Work is the online degree.

Online degree programs in Substance Abuse Social Work can provide learners with the option of working full-time while working through their program or simply engaging in the convenience and flexibility of this type of learning experience.

Finding an Online Substance Abuse Social Work Program

Students progressing through this type of degree program may also spend some time learning about how social work professionals can assist their clients with making changes in multiple dimensions of their personal lives. Vocational support, education assistance, and even family and relationship counseling are just a few of the many things that Substance Abuse Social Workers can be trained to locate for their clients during the treatment process.

The prevalence of online degree programs in this field is widespread since many well-known universities are beginning to offer online options for their degree programs. There are currently large numbers of degree programs in social work offered online in each state, making this a great degree option for online learners.

Consider Licensure for Your State

Since most states require that you participate in accredited degree programs prior to becoming licensed as a social worker, it is important to find online programs that hold current accreditation in your state. The Council of Social Work Education currently accredits social work degree programs at both the bachelor's and master's level.

Popular programs such as the ones found at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Louisville exhibit a remarkable level of quality along with the required accreditation requirements. Many students choose to pursue general social work degrees through accredited programs before receiving specialized training or certification in the field of Substance Abuse.

CSWE Accredited Programs

If you are interested in seeing more online and accredited BSW and MSW degree programs, our team encourages you to visit the CSWE website. This website can provide you with a list of accredited universities currently offering degree programs in this field.

The advantages of receiving your degree through online learning can include the ability to maintain your career and gain experience throughout the learning experience. Some students may also be caring for families or pursuing their degree from out of state.

In the online environment, students can learn through virtual discussions organized by instructors, independent research projects using online reputable resources, or even through structured online testing. Each online course may have its own unique requirements for enrolled students, with most allowing students to work at their own pace and complete assignments based on pre-determined due dates.

Choosing online degree programs in Substance Abuse Social Work can allow you to create a healthy balance between your personal obligations and those related to higher education. Read more in the guide below to learn about different levels of degree programs and what they can mean for your future career.

Bachelors in Substance Abuse Social Work Degrees

Most learners that are progressing towards a career in social work begin in the Bachelor of Social Work degree program. This introductory degree option includes concepts related to general education as well as courses specific to social work practice.

Typical Coursework

The first 2 years of your experience at this level may contain courses such as English, Algebra, and Social Science. Most bachelor's programs require that students participate in these general education courses in order to help build skills related to writing, analyzing the environment, and general computation.

Once your general education courses are complete, you can then begin delving into introductory social work courses. The final 2 years of your degree program can include courses like Introduction to Social Work, Social Work with Individuals and Groups, and Human Behavior and the Social Environment.

Considering Internships

Substance Abuse Social Workers have the option of becoming licensed within many different states. Since licensing is an option, many degree programs also include a practicum or internship requirement with their degree curriculum.

During an internship, you may work with a social work agency that provides assistance to many different groups in society. Your experience can include shadowing licensed social workers, conducting assessments, or even participating in the treatment planning process.

There are multiple entry-level positions for Substance Abuse Social Workers that achieve their bachelor's degree. However, some students find it fitting to move forward into graduate level programs prior to entering the field.

Master's in Substance Abuse Social Work Degrees

The Master of Social Work program can be an excellent resource for incoming social workers that want to pursue specialty positions, those in leadership, or even clinical counseling opportunities throughout their career. In many cases, the MSW can be completed in as little as 2 years depending on the university.

MSW Coursework

This degree program can introduce learners to a deeper dimension of social work responsibility, including concepts related to mental health and counseling. The courses within this program can help students gain skills relevant to conducting mental health assessments on individuals and providing therapeutic services to individuals and groups.

The added skills learned at the master's level can create an even more widespread skill set for incoming Substance Abuse Social Workers planning on entering the field. Having both the generalized skills related to service coordination and specialized training in mental health services can help you in qualifying for more positions in the field after graduation.

Licensure Next

The MSW program may also include an internship depending on the university. Some states allow MSW graduates to apply for licensing directly after the acquisition of their degree, which can begin the experience requirement for those interested in clinical licensing.

Each state has unique expectations for graduates interested in becoming Licensed Clinical Social Workers. If you would like to work with Substance Abuse clients at the clinical level, you may be expected to engage in 2-3 years of supervised clinical experience after your master's degree in order to qualify.

Typical MSW Substance Abuse Social Work Coursework to Expect

Upon entry to the Master of Social Work program, you can expect to participate in advanced courses related to social work practice in your field. Courses like Advanced Practice Using the MSLC Perspective can introduce incoming social work professionals to a dynamic view of cultural and ethnic differences through the lens of the Multi-Systems Life Course.

Since Substance Abuse Social Workers can work with individuals from different backgrounds and experiences, it is important for these professionals to be knowledgeable about different cultures, what is expected within those cultures, and the behavioral differences present within each culture system.

Psychology of Addiction

Courses directly related to the Substance Abuse specialty can include the Psychology of Addiction. In order to work with and provide services to individuals struggling with addiction, social work professionals should understand the brain’s involvement in addiction and how chemical dependence manifests within the human body.

Direct Practice

Students enrolled in Substance Abuse MSW degree programs can expect to take standard and advanced courses in Social Work Practice. This course can outline some of the most common interventions for the population being served, as well as the standard assessments used to create relevant treatment plans for clients.

A look into the various treatment settings can also be a large portion of learning in this course, since the work environment can affect the types of interventions used. Some common environments for Substance Abuse Social Workers includes long and short-term treatment facilities, mental health organizations, and within state welfare agencies.

Substance Abuse Social Work Careers

Substance Abuse Social Work may be a sector of general social work that is growing with popularity as the years progress. There is a worldwide battle against drug abuse ensuing, including a widespread public health issue within the United States.

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In order to properly fight the addiction struggle within the U.S., it is important for social work professionals to partner with criminal justice agencies, state welfare divisions, and mental health practices to help intervene with people with addictions are in need of life-changing interventions.

Role of Substance Abuse Social Workers

The role of the Substance Abuse Social Worker can be to step in as an individual planner, action taker, and guide through the complex process of rehabilitation and environmental change. In this area you can work individually with people that are willing to make change towards a healthier life.

Part of your role as a social worker in this field can be organizing rehabilitative services for your client and assisting them with finding resources related to education, their own well-being, and potentially careers. Providing former addicts with resources for a healthier and happier life can help with creating a personal environment that is not supportive of drug or alcohol abuse.

Another interesting component related to professionals in this field is that most continue to interact and work with their clients until they are at a safe discharge point. It can be extremely rewarding in this field to watch as people reap the benefits of services and provisions as they make vital changes in their own lives.

What Types of Jobs in Substance Abuse Social Work Are There?

If you are one of the many social work professionals considering a move into Substance Abuse Social Work, you could make a difference in the lives of people struggling with various forms of addiction. Addiction is one of the most dangerous mental health situations for individuals in the U.S., and can affect addicted individuals and all of the people surrounding them.

Direct Care Facilities

You can find careers in Substance Abuse Social Work in multiple treatment settings, many of which providing direct care to individuals wishing to make positive changes to their lives. One of the most popular careers options for social workers in this field is within Substance Abuse treatment facilities.

Sobriety Centers

Individuals pursuing careers within treatment facilities can assist clients with developing individualized treatment plans and finding resources both inside and outside of treatment that can help with maintaining long-term sobriety.

State Agencies

Substance Abuse Social Workers may also work for state agencies that provide services to children and families. Since the drug crisis is running rampant throughout the country, the need for more experienced and intensive social workers in this field may be constantly on the rise.

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Court System

Social workers within this specialty can also work in areas such as the court system, criminal justice, and mental health practice. In each of these areas, social workers may partner within individuals that are experiencing the legal or emotional ramifications of drug and alcohol abuse.

As a Substance Abuse Social Worker, you can help people access resources to change their lives for the better. In some cases, you may provide the guidance needed to keep families together and lead to long-lasting lives for those being served.