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Five Ways Addiction Social Workers Impact Recovery


Social workers traditionally have been the traffic cops of addiction treatment. That is because a large part of their role has been to connect clients with the services needed to regain their health. Today, a high number of social workers also provide mental health services as part of the treatment of addiction disorders.

This article explores the role of social workers in addiction recovery. How do social workers help addicts and their families to get the care and treatment they need? What is the career outlook for social workers in the addiction field?

The Addiction Social Worker

An addiction social worker concentrates on giving substance users and their families the support needed to overcome addiction. Addiction disorders frequently combine a variety of psychological and physiological issues that social workers must be trained to unravel. Addiction social workers do this by aiding clients and their families in an attempt to remedy addictive behaviors. In addition to refereeing clients to other social services, these talented professionals offer:

  • Assessment of clients in an inpatient or outpatient setting.
  • Development of treatment plans.
  • One-on-one or group counseling of clients and their families.

All of these services could be provided in a solo practice or as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Addiction social workers combine an understanding of psychiatry and psychology, physiology, biology, and medical treatments, along with being thoroughly tied-in to the social service safety net.


The addiction social worker is the link between the client, the family, and the social service and clinical safety net.

These highly trained professionals are compassionate in their persistence; an addiction social worker knows instinctively when to push and when to fall back. That is because they understand the disease of addiction and how it affects everything in its path.

An addiction social worker is above all a case manager. She or he is a strong advocate for clients, ensuring that they navigate the social service and healthcare safety net to get the help they need. In this role, they typically have a number of responsibilities, including:

  1. Working with families to deal with the addicted person.
  2. Providing counseling around the disintegration of a marriage.
  3. Assisting with housing and homelessness.
  4. Helping in the areas of job loss and financial difficulty.
  5. Tracking the clinical treatment of an addicted person, making sure they have the medical help they need to get better.

It is important to note that the term “addiction” can encompass a variety of disorders related to an inability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Addiction does not just encompass drugs or alcohol. For example, food addiction can cause obesity and a host of health problems. A gambling addiction can quickly bankrupt a person and destroy their lives as surely as an opioid.

A good addiction social worker understands the complicated balance between behavior, mental health, and the physical cravings that cause havoc in a person’s life. There is a complex mix of services in an addict’s treatment plan, which could range from group or individual counseling to medication. The addiction social worker oversees all of these methodologies and attempts to keep clients on the right track toward recovery. They serve a vitally important role in the social services continuum and help countless patients break free of the cycle of addiction and return to better health.

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