Substance Abuse Social Worker

Connect addicts with the resources they need to break the habit.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$25,000 – $63,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Substance Abuse Social Workers do?

People struggle with substance abuse for a variety of reasons: repressed childhood trauma, unresolved anger, a genetic predisposition, and depression, to name just a few. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can be expensive, harmful, dangerous, and life-threatening. Death is often the result for those who can’t break away. But for those who seek help, you — a Substance Abuse Social Worker — are a key player in their recovery.

Substance Abuse Social Workers work with patients who struggle to stay away from drugs or alcohol. This takes place at an inpatient facility, where the patient lives for a time, or an outpatient facility, where the patient checks in at regular intervals to participate in treatment.

Your job as a Substance Abuse Social Worker is to offer them resources to use in their recovery. This means, first and foremost, getting to the core of the problem. Individual, group, and family therapy sessions often begin the discovery process, and eventually instigate healing as well.

You also work to identify medical and/or mental issues that commonly intensify the patient’s need to use drugs. Chronic pain and depression are two common examples.

While working through the treatment process, you consult with other professionals, such as Doctors and Psychiatrists. You also help the patient formulate a plan for when they leave the facility. This might mean linking them to resources that help them find a job, a house, ongoing counseling, or a lower level of mental health or addiction treatment.

Should I be a Substance Abuse Social Worker?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.

  • Also known as: Drug Abuse Social Worker, Drug Abuse Worker, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Advisor, Social Insurance Adviser See More

    How to Become a
    Substance Abuse Social Worker

    Most Substance Abuse Social Workers have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaat9c&chl=|certificate+%281%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2823%25%29|master%27s+%2872%25%29|doctorate+%283%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,72
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