The Quick Facts and Stats:
- 9 to 10 percent of the U.S. population usually meets criteria for substance abuse or dependence.
- 15 million individuals deal with an alcohol use disorder
- 4 milion struggle with a drug use disorder
- 3 million deal with both drug and alcohol disorders
When people hear the word addiction, they often think drugs or alcohol and a persons inability to stop doing drugs or stop drinking. However, what many people don’t know is addiction does not have to involve a substance to be considered a problem that needs help.
Social workers address addictions that include substance abuse, pathological gambling, compulsive eating, compulsive shopping and spending, compulsive sexual behaviors, and excessive internet use or other excessive behaviors.
Addictions do not always occur because of one’s choice to start using a substance or behaving a certain way. There are several factors that can contribute to addiction including family history and genetic predisposition, abnormal brain chemistry, psychological conditions, culture, gender or sexual orientation, and poverty.
Despite how many people view social workers, as people who are just trying to fix people with problems, social workers actually exist to help individuals help themselves. (This is true in all areas of practice.) In work with substance abuse and addictions, social workers do not believe that people choose to act immorally, but struggle with underlying factors that cause them to. Social workers provide compassion, services and guidance to networks and support systems needed for an individual struggling with addictive behaviors.
DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
Lecture: March 15th, 2016.