Record numbers of deaths resulting from drug overdose linked to opioids are occurring throughout the United States. At the same time, children with parents misusing drugs are placed into the foster care system at a staggering rate. Fighting this nation’s opioid epidemic is becoming more critical now than ever, and social work may play a crucial role in the ongoing battle.
The world of social work is expanding, and social work continuing education is expected to see a boost. The projected growth of the social work field is 19% by 2024, which is notable and should be taken seriously. The viability of social work as a career is sure to speak to those just completing their education or anyone looking to make a change.
Social workers will play an instrumental role in ending the opioid crisis. There are several ways that you can be a part of this movement.
Understanding the Opioid Crisis
The first step to ending the opioid crisis is to understand what is causing these tragic events. Drug abuse is commonly linked to mental health issues like depression and PTSD, and yet the condition remains misunderstood even by professionals.
To build understanding, states like Massachusetts are beginning to implement educational core principles. Armed with these principles, social workers will understand how to confront issues like addiction. Social workers under this new plan will learn new prevention strategies, assess substance abuse risk, eliminate the social stigma surrounding drug misuse, and recognize substance abuse conditions appropriately.
This new plan is paying off too. According to public health officials, opioid-linked deaths fell nearly five percent within six months of implementing the program.
Helping Families Cope
Addiction is a serious issue that affects the entire family. In fact, children of individuals with substance abuse issues are more likely to go on to experience similar patterns themselves as teens and adults.
Social workers can help bridge this gap, offering connections to helpful resources. For children, social workers are often the key component in helping them to become successful and remain resilient.
Offering Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Some states, like Massachusetts, encourage health insurance companies to incorporate social work into their plans. With this approach, social workers can more easily identify and seek treatment for opioid users. Social workers can help individuals determine which facilities and treatment options work best in different situations.
Educating the Community
Communities are often ill-equipped to handle addiction, especially where legal issues are concerned. Social workers can play a role in helping to advocate for new laws that benefit individuals with substance abuse disorders.
Offering different types of treatments to individuals with pain issues is another great place to concentrate efforts. Alternatives for chronic pain do exist, and social workers may be able to educate communities about effective methods. These methods may include physical therapy, yoga, and massage.
Social work continuing education may be more necessary now than ever. Explore our social work courses to see how you can benefit your community in the midst of a crisis.