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The Extent and Nature of Practitioners, Encounters with Alcohol and Other Drug Use in Social Work and Social Care Practice

Dance, C and Galvani, S and Hutchinson, A (2014) The Extent and Nature of Practitioners, Encounters with Alcohol and Other Drug Use in Social Work and Social Care Practice. Social Work Education, 33.

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Abstract

This article considers the extent and nature of social work and social care practitioners' experience of working with service users whose lives are affected by the problematic use of alcohol or other drugs (AOD). It draws on the findings of a national study of ‘working with alcohol and drug use’ which was conducted in England in 2010–2011. The study reported here comprised an online survey of front-line practitioners (n = 597), complemented by 12 practitioner focus groups and interviews with 21 key informants from participating local authorities and substance use treatment services. This paper focuses primarily on data from one element of the survey. Findings indicate that the great majority of staff encountered service users who are affected by AOD problems at some level, although there were differences between groups of practitioners in the extent and nature of AOD problems for different groups of service users. The differential experiences of staff according to their client groups underlines the need for education and professional development not only to provide training on working with AOD but to ensure that training is contextualised and relevant to practitioners across the range of social work and social care services.

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