6 Ways to Combat Substance Use Disorders

1.Youth Education

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Youth education is used to prevent substance use disorders altogether. Social workers often work to educate children as a form of prevention. School is a setting in which prevention education may take place. An example of this is seen by SAMHSA, which provides information on evidence based prevention programs for children. (DiNitto et al., 2008)


The use of screenings can help detect the presence of a substance use disorder. Screenings may take the form of a questionnaire, and indicate to a social worker whether someone is at risk for or currently suffering from a substance use disorder. Multiple screening tests have been developed, and so the social worker is tasked with choosing the appropriate one for the client. (DiNitto et al., 2008)

3.Brief Interventions

Brief Interventions can be effective in helping to curtail early substance use problems. Brief interventions can take the form of counseling sessions, or having the client log their activity for example. Research has found an effectiveness to the use of brief interventions, especially in reducing risk drinking. The FRAMES approach (feedback, recognizing, advice, menu of choices, empathy, self-efficacy) is sometimes used in brief interventions.(DiNitto et al., 2008)

4.Motivational Interviewing

The therapist-client relationship is important to motivational interviewing, as it has been found that greater therapist empathy leads to better outcomes. The therapist empowers the client, and makes clear that drug use is a choice, one that can be overcome or changed. (Vassello, 3/17/2016)

5.Behavioral therapy

Adolescents with substance use disorders have been found to benefit from the use of behavioral therapy. This means allowing the adolescent to be proactive, by actively recording substance use, or create future plans that do not involve substance use for example. (DiNitto et al., 2008)

6.Mutual Help Groups

Mutual help groups allow for those with a substance use disorder to support and discuss their experiences with each other. Alcoholics anonymous is one of the largest groups, however there are several others such as cocaine anonymous and gamblers anonymous. Mutual help groups are also important as they may also for members to become more educated on the substance use disorder they are facing. (DiNitto et al., 2008)

by David Montes


DiNitto, D. M., & McNeece, C. A. (2008). Social Work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession. Lyceum Books, (3rd Edition).

Vassello, J. Class Lecture, 3/17/2016.


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