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Help Substance Abusers Beat Addiction

Help Substance Abusers Beat Addiction

Megan Malugani / Monster Contributing Writer

Seeing a Person’s Potential

Robbins entered the field when he took an internship at an addictions clinic while still earning his bachelor’s degree in social work. This route into the field is typical, DiNitto says. Most substance-abuse social workers have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work, and many have taken courses on and completed an internship in substance abuse. Some graduate-level social work programs offer concentrations, specializations or certifications in substance abuse. Credentials and requirements for working in substance abuse differ by state. For members who hold a master’s degree and meet other requirements, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers the voluntary Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW) credential.

DiNitto urges those interested in the profession to take classes on the dynamics of chemical dependency, as well as to volunteer, learn about self-help and attend open meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. “It can be a very powerful experience, even as a nonrecovering person,” she says. “You shouldn’t refer people to those groups without having an idea what they’re like.”

Professional opportunities in the field abound for creative, caring social workers interested in finding new ways to attract individuals to substance-abuse treatment and in designing treatments to which clients respond, DiNitto says. “This is a job with tremendous opportunities for improving people’s quality of life,” she says. “We’re wasting a lot of human potential out there.”


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