Substance Abuse Support Worker Job Description
The role of a substance misuse worker is to provide emotional, physical and psychological support and advice to those of us in our society who are struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
The reasons why people turn to drugs and alcohol are very complex issues and no individual case is the same. Most of the time it is due to family breakdown, grievance, loss of job, loss of purpose and a general feeling of alienation from the world around them.
Substance misuse worker duties and responsibilities
- Ensure that the residents are safe inside the complex with frequent checks of the building.
- Do hourly checks on high risk patients in order to make sure that they are feeling OK and are mentally stable.
- Perform 2 hourly checks on the building ensuring that it complies with health and safety policy procedures.
- Make sure that staff and residents sign in and out every time they enter/leave the complex. This is essential for a number of reasons.
- If a resident has not made contact within 3 days, you will need to report them as missing people. Make sure that the police have all of the required information on them (are they dangerous, vulnerable, attempted suicide).
- Ensure that only those who have permission and have been authorized enter the building at an time.
- Refuse entry to an resident if they are presenting aggressive behavior or they have drugs/alcohol on their person without permission.
- Complete daily reports of the residents of the building, noting any changes, incidents or appointments as they come.
- Do cleanliness checks on the residents rooms to ensure that they are complying with the house rules.
- Carry out inductions for new residents or staff coming into the building. This will include fire safety information, showing them around the building and notifying them of the rules of the building.
Substance Misuse Worker Requirements
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Level 3 health and social care certificate at least
- Clean criminal record
- Normally 1-2 years support work experience
- Excellent communication skills
- Excellent negotiation skills
- Empathy for the residents you support
- Good listening skills
- High levels of patience, especially when speaking with substance misusers
- Good computer skills
What to expect as a substance misuse worker
The patients will repeat themselves a lot – People who have abused drugs or alcohol for long periods of time tend to repeat themselves a lot. They will constantly talk and you won’t get much time to reply unless you pick your moment well. As a support worker you want to listen to them but at the same time don’t let them go round in circles for too long as they are not progressing when they do this.
They will test boundaries – If you are new, the residents will test you to see how much they can get away with when you are on shift. This is normal and all you need to do is state the rules and then let them know the consequences if they choose to go against it. If you make it clear to them that you will report any incidents then they will soon back off.
Emotional blackmail is used against you – In an attempt to get you to bend the rules for them, they will talk about how hard their life has been. After this, any normal person would find it hard to refuse to let them use the office phone to call their mum but that is what you will need to do. Chances are, they won’t be calling their mum at all but rather their drug dealer.
You need to check up on the residents – In settings like this its not uncommon to find someone lying on the floor after suffering from a fit or cardiac arrest. These are unwell people who are constantly at risk of taking an overdose or suffering the aftereffects of their unhealthy lifestyles. They are also emotionally unstable and frequently attempt to commit suicide. For this reason a lot of the residents will be on hourly watches which you will be expected to follow up on.
Substance misuse worker salary – The salary of a substance misuse support worker is generally pretty good. Ranging from $27,000 – $33,000. Of course, if you have extra training and are given more responsibility then this can go up.