Journal Article

Working with Alcohol and Drug Use: Exploring the Knowledge and Attitudes of Social Work Students

Sarah Galvani and Nathan Hughes

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 3, pages 946-962
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Working with Alcohol and Drug Use: Exploring the Knowledge and Attitudes of Social Work Students

Show Summary Details



Many social workers in the UK work daily with the social harms linked to problematic substance use. Historically, however, their drug and alcohol training needs have been overlooked. This study set out to achieve two key objectives: (i) to assess social work students' knowledge of, and attitudes towards, working with people with substance problems; and (ii) to develop and test a questionnaire to meet this objective. A four-part self-completion questionnaire was developed and administered to a purposive sample of 156 social work students. The focus of this article will be on the results of Part 2 of the pilot survey, which focused on the students' attitudes towards, and knowledge of, substance use. One hundred and twenty-one completed questionnaires were used as the basis for analysis. Three factors emerged as the key explanatory factors demonstrating significant relationships between them: ‘knowledge’, ‘support from colleagues’ and ‘legitimacy of role’. Social work training needs to recognize the need for alcohol and drug education within social work qualifying programmes in order that future social workers will feel equipped with the knowledge and legitimacy to do their job and meet the needs of people who have problems with alcohol and drugs.

Keywords: Alcohol; drugs; social work; attitudes; knowledge

Journal Article.  6733 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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