Your support group is one of the most important resources you have in recovery; you will have a better chance at maintaining long-term sobriety if your group is strong. Most people on your team will be friends, family, or even other people in recovery who understand your struggles, but don’t you agree it would be good to have someone on your side that can help with issues beyond cravings. One professional who can play a valuable role as you’re navigating recovery is a social worker.
Social workers are trained to help you solve and cope with problems in your everyday life. The benefit of a social worker being in your support group is that they can also serve as a resource for you to rebuild your life and to thrive.
Anchored Tides Recovery Center has social workers on our staff to help with issues beyond the basic addiction troubles. Situations like career-related issues, custody, living arrangements, and more. These are the sorts of services that help us stand out from all of the other treatment centers, in a good way.
What Does a Social Worker Do?
A social worker has a degree in social work and is trained to work with individuals to solve, and cope with, problems that arise in their daily lives. A clinical social worker can also diagnose and treat behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues. In general, some of the specific things a licensed social worker might do includes:
- Determining the needs and strengths of individuals then help them develop goals
- Assisting clients to adjust to challenges that exist in their lives, including addiction recovery
- Referrals to community resources like healthcare and childcare services
- Crisis response during mental health emergencies
- Continual follow-up with clients to check in and see if they’re meeting their goals and their lives are improving
- Providing therapy services
Within the larger category of social workers are other areas of specialty. For example, bachelor’s social workers (BSW) and (MSW) will work with community organizations and policymakers to create programs that benefit the community on a more significant level. Both have degrees in social work education, a BSW has a bachelor’s degree and a MSW has a master’s degree; once an MSW has a certain amount of hours of clinical experience they can become a (CSW) and a (LCSW).
A clinical social worker (CSW) or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) require a master’s degree and can provide individual or group therapy. They can work with clients and other health care professionals to create customized treatment plans. Some social workers specifically help people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders; they can help their clients find support groups and other programs and rebuild their lives.
The Consequences of Addiction on Daily Life
Social workers are multifaceted as far as their services and the benefits they can provide to clients. This is important when discussing a substance use disorder because of how far-reaching the effects are on every aspect of a person’s life. Once you go to treatment, you may find that there is a lot of work to do to get your life back on track the way that you envision it.
Some of the ways that addiction can affect your life include:
- You may be facing legal problems; if you’re charged with a crime because of your substance use disorder, you may have to go through the court system and pay fines or face other punishments.
- You might have family-related legal matters; for example, you could have lost custody of your child, or you may be going through a divorce.
- You may have financial problems or have lost your job as well.
- Your relationships may have been deeply affected by addiction; Your loved ones may be hurt by what happened during your active addiction, and they might have lost faith in you or trust.
- You could be dealing with chronic health issues resulting in, and you may need regular medical care and treatment.
- You may have ongoing mental and emotional side effects from your addiction, even if you’re sober. Many people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health disorder.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
It’s worth talking about co-occurring mental health disorders and substance use disorders on their own because this highlights the benefits of a social worker. A co-occurring disorder is when someone has two or more either mental or physical health disorders. Substance use disorders are strongly correlated with mental health disorders. Around half of the people with substance use disorder will develop at least one mental health disorder in their lifetime, and vice versa. There are three reasons that doctors and researchers believe this might be true.
- The risk factors for substance use disorders and mental health conditions often overlap with one another: For example, trauma exposure, abuse, and genetics play a role in substance use disorders and mental health disorders.
- Self-medicating: Someone with a mental illness might use substances to deal with their symptoms.
- Changes in the brain stemming from substances: The parts of the brain most affected by the use of substances are associated with the areas that relate to mental health disorders.
The Benefits of a Social Worker in Addiction Treatment and Recovery
The above factors highlight the benefits of a social worker in treatment and recovery from substance use disorders. Social workers are educated in mental health, and they can also specialize in helping clients with substance use disorders. An addiction social worker understands psychology and psychiatry, biology, and physical health. They are also connected with the safety net of social services in the community where they work. A trained social worker knows a balance and connection between mental health, behavior, and physical health. They can also oversee the different services included in an addiction treatment plan like counseling and medication.
Specific benefits of a social worker in addiction include:
- Assessment: Before a social worker begins treatment, they will conduct a complete evaluation that will help them understand each of the factors that contributed to someone’s addiction and its effects. This allows them to create a very tailored treatment plan.
- Treatment plans: Social workers can oversee treatment plans that last for months or even years. Social workers collaborate with other providers in the delivery of treatment plans.
- Coping skills: Working with a social worker can help someone in addiction recovery learn new coping skills, such as stress management and conflict resolution.
- Resource connections: Social workers are well-versed in the various resources and systems available. They work within the system to help with bureaucratic or legal issues you might face; they can even connect clients with employers who are hiring.
Social workers can be beneficial and empowering if you are dealing with addiction or you’re in recovery. They are part of a continuous aftercare plan for many people following treatment, and they can help you set and meet your goals.
Long-term sobriety is a marathon, not a sprint; the process of getting sober and staying sober can sometimes last a lifetime. The quality of the skills and resources you develop on your road to recovery directly relates to your chances of maintaining sobriety. Anchored Tides Recovery has the aftercare and resources, like social workers and group therapy, that will help you at any stage of recovery. Call us today for a consultation and take the first steps towards long-term happiness.