Content Process Paper Example: Substance Abusing

7 pages
1743 words
Boston College
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Critical thinking
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People use alcohol or other drug substances for a range of reasons, which can be either positive or negative. Frequently, the use of alcohol and other drug substances may cause little or no harm to the user. However, when used in excess the substance may be harmful to the user and the people around him/her. For many years, responding to the harms caused by the drug users has been considered the work of the health institutions or criminal justice systems. However, recently the role of social workers has been identified and seen as a considerable party that may help deal with the harms caused by the substance users. The main aim of a social worker in response to drug substance user is to provide the support and interventions as a means to respond to the social harms caused by the substance user to the people around him/her like family, relatives, or friends. However, successful response to such harms may not be achieved with one individual but it can be achieved or realized with cooperation and collaboration by every stakeholder in the institution. The process model describes the best and effective ways to ensure that the social harms caused by the substance users are contained and managed successfully. This paper is going to apply the components of the process model discussed by Drewry in Alcohol and Drugs rehabilitation center where I work.

Social work involves different people working in a group with the main aim of providing support and intervention to the social harms that may be caused by substance abuse individuals. Toseland and Rivas (2016) explain the overview for working with treatment and task groups. The authors argue that social work involves working with a wide array of groups professionals who participate in and lead community or institutional settings; thus, there needs to collaborate and share information. As a social worker, one is presented with different and unique problems that may require different approaches as well. Therefore, as Drewry (2009) explains, social workers need to design and come up with treatment methodology that suits the client. The generalization method or response approaches may not necessarily work in every case presented due to the uniqueness of the situations. Social workers work with caseloads of clients who are distinct from one another. Therefore, adopting generalizability is considered as akin to the dehumanization of clients. According to Drewry (2009), clients in a social work institution responds to an individualized treatment and the social work practitioner involved need to examine skeptically the best and effective interventional methods which smack of mass production.

Drewry states that in a social work setting, the most crucial and critical factors predictive of success are relationships. The relationship between the client and the social work practitioner is important in the treatment of substance abuse. Relationship factors and other process level features of the clinical service interaction can highly influence the treatment process and contribute to a successful outcome (Drewry, 2009). Alcohol and other drug abuse substances are considered critical to the human health just like the other diseases. According to the disease model theorists, alcoholism is a medical disorder which may lead to behavioral impairment (Pratt et al., 2013). For instance, the individual may not be able to control his/her craving for alcohol. As a result, substance abuse can affect both the behavior and brain functions of the user. Since the neurochemical and behavioral processes are affected or impaired during the development of the disease, the social worker needs to utilize an effective approach in his/her therapeutic settings. However, the effectiveness of the approach or method will likely depend on the relationship between the client and the practitioner. It is through the relationship that client will be able to get involved in the treatment process; thus, predictive of successful outcome. Effective client-practitioner relationships also empower clients; thus, influence the treatment compliance. Further, Drewry states that the quality of interactions between patients or clients and the social work practitioners, and the nature of the treatment relationship itself have a significant positive impact on both the treatment compliance and the successful treatment outcome.

Social work practitioners should be guided by the NASW code of ethics at all times when dealing with clients with substance or drug abuse problems as a guide to decision making. Unlike the other forms of responding to the social harms of substance abuse user such as criminal justice, social work institutions uphold the core values of service; for instance, social justice, the dignity and worth of the clients, and the significance of the human relationship. Therefore, as a social worker, one must be guided by professional ethical responsibilities outlined in the NASW code of ethics. For instance, the practitioner is expected to adhere to the local, state, and federal mandates regarding the informed consent, privacy, and confidentiality of clients (Drewry, 2009). Before accessing the clients records one should seek their consent or their families before using the information. There should be a shared power over decision-making. This will not only enhance the relationship between the client and the practitioner but also enhance the trust between the two. However, when talking about trust the NASW code of ethics requires social work practitioner to create a positive expectancy of change or improvement. Alcohol and drug substance abuse have been described differently including medical disorder or disease. Disease model proponents explain that alcohol use is not cured even if he/she is able to stop an alcohol addiction because it affects the persons brain (Pratt et al., 2013). The NASW code of ethics highlights that as a social work practitioner one must instill hope and create a positive expectancy for change for the clients. Alcohol and other drug substance addiction are very hard to disclose. They usually feel ashamed because of the stigmatization and the shameful feeling created by the society towards the substance users. Most cultures and societies perceive alcohol and drug abuse as immoral and they can openly condemn it. However, as a social worker one should be guided by the principles of non-judgmental attitudes, empathy, and advocacy when interacting with the substance use individuals (Drewry, 2009). Such prejudicial perceptions are created by the society, religion, or media sometimes, but social work practitioner should not reinforce them. Instead, as a social work practitioner, one should empower the client to cope with the future difficulties as he/she proceeds with the treatment. Instilling this sort of positivity requires morale and sense of self-efficacy (Drewry, 2009).

Social work practitioners are expected to demonstrate competency in and remain updated on the most effective and current interventional approaches. The NASW code of ethics requires the practitioners to be well knowledgeable and incorporate information based on the assessment and evidence in their work (Drewry, 2009). Since every patient or client has his/her unique problems, it is better that the social work practitioner chooses an appropriate interventional approach which suits the individual. This should be based on evidence-informed practices. Working in a group ensures that people updated as it facilitates information sharing among the group members. The success of the organization does not depend on a single individual no matter how perfect he/she may be. It is the collective responsibility and commitment of everyone in the institution that will ensure the success. However, the success of the organization does not depend on the social work practitioners alone but also depends on the collaboration between practitioners and clients. Clients collaboration and commitment can be achieved through the establishment of supportive environment (Drewry, 2009). It is within such environment that the process level factors may be operationalized. Therefore, in this way, the intervention experiences and assessment approaches are not hierarchically ordained, but they are co-created by both patients and the social work practitioner.

Creating a supportive environment involves establishing critical ingredients for success in institutional settings. Drewry (2009) explains that true and authentic therapeutic relationship is the medium for change in a social work institution. The relationship does not involve only the interaction between the client and the practitioners within the institution, but it also involved various other things. For instance, it involves respecting the client and their worldview, respecting the meaning of client experience, showing empathy for the clients suffering, being non-judgmental, and showing truthfulness and genuineness in the interaction between the practitioner and the client (Drewry, 2009). Working in an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center requires the above-highlighted values. As a social worker in such an institution, one is required to understand the reasons for substance use so as to avoid being judgmental towards clients. None of the substance users knew that they would develop a problem. Substance use starts with the reasons that appear positive (Straussner, 2013); for instance, gain confidence, to be able to take the risk, to be able to fit in a particular group or crowd, or to help forget bad experiences. None of the reasons seem bad or negative; however, after becoming an addict out of substance misuse the person may start developing the negative behaviors like causing harm to the people around him/her. Therefore, as a social worker one should be willing to help the person overcome the problem and support them in their recovery process. In most cases, individuals who have abused drugs are perceived as a kind of negativity that may demoralize their morale towards recovering. The negativity perception includes being depicted as selfish, weak willed, manipulative, and sometimes undeserving of support. The social worker should try to show the individuals that they deserve another chance and show them care, support, and respect.

To conclude, no one deserves to be treated like weak willed or undeserving of support or respect. Every individual deserves another chance to get out of the situation they find themselves in. As discussed in the paper, no one begins to use the drugs with the hope that he/she will develop a problem. Social work practitioner should be guided by the NASW code of ethics discussed in this paper. Instead of perceiving the substance abuse individuals as undeserving support, manipulative, and selfish a social worker should look at them as vulnerable people who are in need of warmth, care, respect, and support.


Drewry, S. (2009). A Process Model for Evidence-Based Social Work Practice. Social Work Program. Capital University.

Pratt, C. W., Gill, K. J., Barrett, N. M., & Roberts, M. M. (2013). Psychiatric rehabilitation. Academic Press.

Straussner, S. L. A. (Ed.). (2013). Clinical work with substance-abusing clients. Guilford Publications.

Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2016). An introduction to group work practice. Pearson.


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