Drug and alcohol worker
Drug and alcohol workers help people tackle their drug, alcohol or substance misuse problems.
£17,000 Starter - £30,000 Experienced
30 to 37 a week (on call at short notice)
Where to start
You can get into this job through
a college coursean apprenticeshipworking towards this rolevolunteeringapplying directly
There are 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
- Level 3 Certificate in Tackling Substance Misuse
Entry requirements for these courses vary.
You could start out by completing an adult care worker Level 2 apprenticeship then move into support work. You'll usually need some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent.
You can be a support worker with few qualifications, as long as you have enough relevant experience and the qualities employers are looking for.
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.
You could apply directly to become a drug and alcohol worker. There are no formal entry requirements. 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.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- knowledge of psychology
- customer service skills
- sensitivity and understanding
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to understand people’s reactions
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and Requirements
You'll need to pass enhanced background checks
What you’ll do
You could do:
- outreach work - visit substance users and help with immediate needs
- drop-in centre work - talk to clients about their needs and find ways of supporting them towards recovery
- counselling and rehabilitation - give support and deal with the causes of substance misuse
- arrest referral work - support clients arrested for drug-related offences
- education and training - help clients access services
- healthcare - work as a specialist nurse in an addiction clinic
- needle exchange - provide clean sharps and give advice on how to use substances safely
You could work at a health centre, at a school, in the community, in a prison or at an outreach centre.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could become a volunteer coordinator, project team leader or service manager.