There are numerous employment opportunities available for substance misuse workers within the criminal justice framework in the UK. These specialists support both adults and young people who have significant issues with drugs, alcohol or other substances.
Substance misuse counselors work in a variety of settings, from prisons and residence-based rehabilitation to clinics; they also often serve on youth offending teams.
Hours are typically irregular and may include weekends and after hours work when you are on call. Unlike other criminal justice jobs there are no set qualifications necessary for substance misuse workers.
A good understanding of substance misuse issues gained through volunteer work or personal experience is extremely helpful though.
The substance misuse worker must be skilled in talking and working with people from very diverse backgrounds and life circumstances. They must carefully manage behavior and set reasonable limits, all the while encouraging connection and trust with the client.
Typical Duties of a Substance Misuse Worker
The assessment and trust building process is a critical component of substance misuse counseling. To find out what is going on with the client you should have the interpersonal skills to connect with them and offer an environment of compassion and trust. At the same time, you need the strength to set and enforce appropriate boundaries.
Once you have discovered what the client’s issues and situation are you can seek the best services for them and support them on their journey to recovery.
This may include referrals for housing and medical services and supporting them by going to appointments with them. Substance misuse workers will also typically work with families and the individual’s wider support system.
Substance misuse workers may work in drop-in centers, specialized clinics, rehabilitation units or in an outreach role. Outreach workers often accompany police on patrols in homeless areas or near pubs.
They can offer needle exchange if needed and provide for immediate needs such as housing or connecting a client with appropriate care. In addition, substance misuse workers typically provide extensive education and guidance as part of their individualized and broader outreach services.
Specialized Roles within the Criminal Justice System
If you are interested in a substance misuse worker job that focuses within the criminal justice system it’s helpful to be aware of different specialized opportunities that are available. For instance, police custody referral workers help offenders fully understand the ramifications of testing positive for drugs when they are arrested.
Substance misuse workers are also typically an integral part of prison drug teams and probation venues within a community. In both environments, there is a strong possibility that the specialist will experience uncooperative or even belligerent behavior.
Additionally, substance misuse workers may provide drug and alcohol testing as part of their duties.
If you would like to help people overcome their substance misuse issues and make a new start in their life, consider a specialized role within the criminal justice system. In this environment, you can truly make a difference at both the individual and societal levels.