5 Facts You Should Know About Substance Use & Abuse in the Social Work Field

  1. While 3/4 of members of the National Association of Social Workers have helped clients suffering from an alcohol or drug problem, only 3% of licensed social workers specialize in addictions as their primary practice (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.171).

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2. Since the 1800s, social workers have been helping people who suffer from addictions. However, back then majority of people viewed alcoholism as a sin or moral problem. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.172).

3. What is interesting is that younger people are more likely than those who are older to experience problems with inhalants. Older adults are more susceptible to problems from prescription drugs. What accounts for this is the fact that older adults tend to take more prescribed medications (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.174).

4. About 10% of the “U.S. population meets the criteria for substance abuse or dependence.” Furthermore, there are 15 million people who have an alcohol use disorder, 4 million people suffering from a drug use disorder, and 3 million who suffer from both. Unfortunately, most people do not receive the treatment they so desperately need due to monetary component or due to the fact that they don’t think they have a problem (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.176).

5. An addiction to alcohol or drugs is not the only addiction; there is pathological gambling, compulsive eating, compulsive shopping or spending, compulsive sexual behavior, and excessive internet use (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.177).


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a
challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.



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