Job type

Substance misuse worker

£20k - £35k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

Substance misuse workers encourage people to seek help from local support services, and advise them how to minimise risks to their health.

More info

  • Encourage people to seek help and advise them on how to minimise health risks
  • You'll need to be able to manage behaviour and set limits while keeping trust
  • You could become a senior recovery worker, volunteer coordinator or project team leader


  • Gaining clients' trust so they agree to let you help them
  • Finding out about their situation and needs
  • Giving face-to-face advice about health protection
  • Talking about their options for support
  • Finding and agreeing the best services to help them
  • Helping them to get access to services like housing or benefits advice
  • Going to appointments with them and giving help with forms
  • Working with their families to give wider practical and emotional support
  • Writing reports and recording information so that other professionals can help

Other duties may include:

  • Building relationships with community organisations like tenants' groups
  • Giving talks to increase understanding and gain support
  • Going with police patrols around pubs and clubs helping with needle exchange services
  • Running workshops in schools and youth centres


Your hours may be irregular and unsocial, and you may be on-call. Part-time paid and voluntary work is widely available. You may be based in one place, like at a charity's drop-in centre, but you'll also travel around the community to work with clients and give talks. A driving licence and car would be useful, especially if working late. Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You'll need

This role is ideal for someone that wants to help people manage behaviour and set limits while keeping trust, communicate with people from many different backgrounds, work closely with a range of organisations, and respect private information while keeping people safe.

You could apply directly to employers, if you've got relevant skills and knowledge. You'll need a good understanding of the issues facing people with substance misuse problems.

Experience in criminal justice, social care, youth work or counselling may give you an advantage when looking for paid work.

You could also apply if you have personal experience of addiction or dependency. Applications are usually welcome from people who have successfully come through treatment.

Volunteering with an organisation like a drug, alcohol or housing charity is a good way to build skills and experience, and is often a way into paid work. You can find contacts for local substance misuse organisations from online services like Frank where you can search by postcode or town.

You could also take a part-time college courses which will give you an understanding of some of the issues. These include Level 1 or level 2 Award in Substance Misuse Awareness and Level 3 Certificate in Tackling Substance Misuse.

Alternatively you can also get into this role through an adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship.

You'll need to pass enhanced background checks for this role.


With experience, you could become a senior recovery worker in charge of a team, volunteer coordinator or project team leader. You could also specialise in working with a particular user group, like young people.