It is the same story I hear again and again: “we got social services involved but they were useless.” This is certainly not an attack on social workers, because the majority I have come into contact with have cared deeply about helping others. However, it cannot be avoided that their training is fundamentally flawed in that it does not provide anywhere near the level of knowledge required to help someone suffering from addiction.
I believe this may be as a result of the stigma attached to drugs alcohol and social work; why help drunks or druggies when there are people abusing children or people with mental health issues? Well in the same way a social worker would support a diabetic individual in seeking treatment, so too should the illness of addiction be approached. Often, social workers are the last resort for someone who has been disowned by everyone around them. If the social worker can’t help them take a step in the right direction then who can?
But social workers can only help those with an addiction if they have knowledge around working with addiction. I’m sure no one is expecting social workers to be experts in addiction, but some basic grounding would at least be an improvement on the current situation. A study by the University of Bedfordshire found that more than a third of social workers do not receive any training on substance abuse whilst qualifying. Of those who do receive training, the majority receive less than two days-worth.
Even for those who don’t believe people with addictions should be helped, it is worth remembering that many substances can lead to mental health problems or can cause violence and domestic abuse. By tackling the issue of addiction when it first becomes apparent, it may be possible to avoid some of these situations from escalating.
I am not naïve, I realise that this is not something that is likely to change any time soon, but it is a sad state of affairs. I thank God for those social workers who do their best to help on a daily basis, regardless of the circumstances they are faced with. If you or anyone around you is affected by addiction, give us a call. We are here to help with alcohol addiction. Counsellors are standing by to help. Alcohol help is available; seek help before it’s too late.