Role of Addiction Counselors in Community Prevention Programs

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Barker (1999,p.375) refers to prevention as: "Actions taken by social workers and others to minimize or eliminate those social, psychological, or other conditions known to contribute to physical or emotional illnesses…. Prevention includes establishing those conditions in society that enhance the opportunities for individuals, families and communities to achieve positive fulfillment." Bloom (1996, p. 2) states that prevention is: "Coordinated actions seeking to prevent predictable problems, to protect existing states of health and healthy functioning and to promote desired potentialities in individuals and groups in their physical and sociocultural settings over time."

Social work seeks to enhance human well-being, helps to meet the basic needs of all people, pays particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, promotes positive social change, and demonstrates sensitivity to cultural diversity (Mayden and Nievies, 2000). Prevention involves focusing on the conditions that contribute the problems, taking action before the problems or taking action before the problems develop or become serious.

The classification system consists of three types of prevention: primary, secondary, and tertiary. As characterized by Last (1983), primary prevention involves the promotion of health and elimination of alcohol abuse and its consequences through community-wide efforts, such as improving knowledge, altering the environment, and changing the social structure, norms, and values systems. Secondary prevention uses approaches available to individuals and populations for early detection within high-risk groups and prompt and effective intervention to correct or minimize alcohol abuse in the earliest years of onset. Tertiary prevention consists of measures taken to reduce existing impairments and disabilities and to minimize suffering caused by alcohol abuse. INTRODUCTION:

Social workers play vital roles in assisting individuals, families, schools, workplaces, and communities to address addictions.

Addictions affect people from all walks of life, and social workers in virtually all practice areas see people with these problems. Addiction is described as impulse-control disorders or compulsive (repeated) behaviors that can cause psychological, social, and sometimes physical harm, such as gambling, overeating, sex, Internet use, and shopping. Addictive disorders, broadly defined, often co-occur. For example, many pathological gamblers have alcohol use disorders (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005). In addition, a person trying to control one addictive disorder may develop another in its place. Addictive or impulse-control disorders also often co-occur with depression or other mental disorders.

Social workers see individuals with addictions or impulse-control disorders in many settings. For example, social workers help parents with alcohol and drug problems in the child welfare system, and they often treat individuals who gamble pathologically as a condition of deferred adjudication for Addictions and Social Work Practice. Social workers employed as supervisors or agency administrators are also responsible for employees who come to work intoxicated or have other addictive disorders that interfere with their work. Social workers may also see colleagues impaired by these problems. In all these sit- uations, social workers need to be able to identify problems and intervene. The public generally considered alcoholism a sin or

moral problem. Mary Richmond, a notable Charity Organization Societies leader, had a more enlightened view. She referred to “inebriety” as a dis- ease, encouraged early identification and treatment, and developed an alcoholism assessment instrument that contains items that social workers today continue to use. In these early days of the profession, social workers often addressed alcohol problems through the temperance movement and their work in public welfare, child...
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