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Substance Use and Disabilities: Experiences of Adults’ Social Care Professionals and the Implications for Education and Training

Dance, C and Galvani, S (2014) Substance Use and Disabilities: Experiences of Adults’ Social Care Professionals and the Implications for Education and Training. Social Work Education, 33.

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Abstract

This paper draws on data from a national survey of social workers and social care practitioners in England undertaken in 2010–2011. It focuses on practitioners working in services for adults with either learning or physical disabilities and, in particular, their experiences of responding to alcohol and other drug use among their service users. Based on secondary analysis of survey and focus group data from the earlier study, the paper outlines the extent to which workers in these areas of practice encounter alcohol and drug problems and discusses the key challenges this poses for them. The findings show that between 4% and 10% of adults' practitioners' service users have alcohol and drug problems depending on the nature of the disability. Regardless of the type of disability, practitioners reported difficulties in talking about substance use with their service users as well as identifying tensions around life-style choice and risk management. They also reported the need for education and training in a number of areas. Social work education and subsequent training in working with substance use problems needs to be available to adults' practitioners and it needs to address the specific issues and needs in different areas of social work practice.

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