So, you’re sold that Health and Social Care is the path for you. That’s great and all, but where on earth do you start...
- Challenging but rewarding work helping others who are in need
- May need to work evenings and weekends depending on your role
- Requires a calm approach and the ability to build and maintain trust
As a drug and alcohol worker you'll help clients to access services such as counselling, healthcare and education. Your job could vary widely depending on your interests and qualifications.
- Outreach work - visiting substance users and helping with immediate needs
- Drop-in centre work - talking to clients about their needs and finding ways of supporting them towards recovery
- Counselling and rehabilitation - giving support and dealing with the causes of substance misuse
- Arrest referral work - supporting clients arrested for drug-related offences
- Education and training - helping clients access services
- Healthcare - working as a specialist nurse in an addiction clinic
- Needle exchange - providing clean sharps and giving advice on how to use substances safely
Hours may be irregular and unsocial, and you may need to be on call.
Part-time paid and voluntary work is widely available. Your workplace will depend on your job. In the justice system, you'll be based in a prison or remand centre. In outreach work, you'll travel around your district, visiting centres and schools. You could also be based at a health centre, residential rehabilitation unit or housing association office.
This role would be ideal for someone with empathy and a calm, caring approach, an understanding of substance misuse issues and their impact on people, a non-judgmental attitude, the ability to build trusting relationships, excellent communication and listening skills, and the ability to work closely with a range of different organisations.
You could apply directly to become a drug and alcohol worker. There are no formal entry requirements but you could have an advantage if you've got personal experience of addiction or dependency.
You may also come into this work from a variety of backgrounds, like nursing, criminal justice, social care, youth work or counselling. For example, you may have dealt with drug or alcohol-dependent patients as a nurse, or worked in the probation service, supporting offenders after their release.
This is a job where volunteering is highly valued and can lead to paid work. You can find volunteering opportunities by contacting local substance misuse organisations listed on Frank. Do-it has more information on general volunteering opportunities in your area.
You can be a support worker with few qualifications, as long as you have enough relevant experience and the qualities employers are looking for.
You could start out by completing an adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship then move into support work.
You may also be able to do an introductory course in substance misuse at a local college. You could then follow this up by doing a Level 1 or 2 Award in Substance Misuse Awareness.
With experience, you could become a volunteer coordinator, project team leader or service manager.