By Nelia van Deventer

As a social worker at Toevlug Centre for Alcohol and Drug Dependence, we have various roles and responsibilities to fulfil within our multi-disciplinary team.

Social workers on our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs will each have an individual case load of patients for a duration of five or eight weeks depending on the type of program. Substance use patients are often special needs clients as they experience trouble in various other aspects of the lives. The social workers will be responsible for doing a thorough assessment of each patient’s needs and problems. The social worker and the patient will jointly draw up an individual treatment plan addressing the patient’s specific needs.

A focus of the social workers will also be on increasing the patient’s internal motivation towards change. Weekly individual therapy will be offered to the patient in order to address the needs stipulated in their individual treatment plan. The social workers will also be responsible for referring and linking their patients to other services offered by the multi-disciplinary team for example the psychologist, dieticians, psychiatrist, pastoral counsellors etc.

In our outpatient program a primary role of the social worker will also be on monitoring and ensuring attendance of the program. In both our inpatient and outpatient treatment program, the social worker will also fulfil the role of educator by delivery lectures and group therapy to our patients based on various evidence based treatment approaches.  

Several of our social workers are also specialised within the complex field of addiction where they use their knowledge within the field of addiction and offer training to social workers from other fields. Our social workers also focus on shaping the minds of our next generation by fulfilling the role of supervisors for student social auxiliary workers and student social workers. In conjunction with the multi-disciplinary team, our social workers also act as agents of change in our local communities by participating in awareness campaigns about alcohol and drug abuse.

We also focus on networking with other service providers to expand our resource directory and to better link our patients with the appropriate services upon discharge for continued support during their recovery. We also focus on delivery individual aftercare services for patients within our areas. For patients outside our area, we link them with appropriate aftercare services within their communities in order to ensure continued support upon discharge. We also try and expand our support services by presenting a support group at Toevlug and by attending other local addiction support groups within our community.  

A focus is also placed on the family of the patient as addiction is a disease that affects the whole family. It is important for the family to be incorporated within treatment as they form the patient’s main support system and they themselves also need support. The social workers will focus on family therapy and on educational groups in order to expand the family’s knowledge and skills regarding the field of addiction.  

Another main role of a social worker within the field of addiction is that of advocate. Addiction is a highly stigmatised disease and our social workers have to fight on a daily basis to de-stigmatise addiction for our patients. As stated in our logo, we try and empower our patients with the necessary skills in order to set them free of their addiction so that they can live a full life.

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