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Working with Drug and Alcohol Users: A Guide to Providing Understanding, Assessment and Support

by Tony White Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Pub Date:
Pbk 224 pages
AU$49.99 NZ$51.30
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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& Academics:
Working with Drug and Alcohol Users provides an accessible guide to substance use and working with substance users.

Using transactional analysis theory, the author explains why some people use substances, exploring different personality types, and covers the basic components of drug counselling. The book then outlines different counselling techniques used to treat and manage substance users, using transactional analysis models. These include motivational interviewing, harm reduction counselling, drug use ambivalence work and relapse process work. A chapter on teenage drug users is also included. Case examples feature throughout to demonstrate the ideas in practice.

This will be an essential guide for all those working with drug and alcohol users, including counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and support workers.

Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1. Drug Use and Addiction. 2. Fundamental Components of Drug Counseling. 3. Transactional Analysis and the Theory of Addiction. 4. Why People Use Drugs and their Treatment. 5. The Harm Reduction Contract and Harm Reduction Counseling. 6. Assessment of the Drug and Alcohol User. 7. Drug Use Ambivalence. 8. Relapse Process Work. 9. Motivational Interviewing. 10. The Teenage Drug User. 12. Conclusion. Further Reading. References. Index.

Ian Paylor
Department of Applied Social Science, Lancaster University
British Journal of Social Work (2013) 43 (4): 818-819.
It is both pleasing (to me) and a matter of note that, during (another) major
period of reform in social work education and practice, we are seeing a
number of texts (e.g. Paylor et al., 2012; Galvani, 2012; Nelson, 2012) dealing
with supporting people with alcohol and drug problems. Substance use has
been identified as an area of educational need for all social workers (TCSW,
2012b) and, along with the growth of texts in this area, there are a growing
number of voices calling for social work education to prepare its practitioners
appropriately for working with the substance use issues their service users
present with.
As I write, Qualifying Social Work Programmes (QSWPs) are having to restructure
and revalidate their programmes for the third time in ten years and a
considerable amount of time and effort is being absorbed in completing paperwork
and regulation processes for the new regulating body, the Health and Care
Professions Council (HCPC), as well as ensuring programmes adhere to new
Standards of Proficiency (HCPC, 2012) and the new Professional Capabilities
Framework (TCSW, 2012a).
Social work education is framed by those broad capability frameworks, some
core subject benchmarks (QAA, 2008) and requirements (Department of
Health, 2002). The College of Social Work (TCSW) guidance on reforming
the social work curriculum includes ‘Substance misuse and addictions’ in a
list of topics which, it states, QSWPs ‘must’ teach their students (TCSW,
2012b). It has also issued newly developed curriculum guidance documents,
one of which focuses on substance use (Galvani, 2011). However, both are guidance
documents only. Similar guidance was provided to all QSWPs in 1992 by
the Central Council for the Education and Training of Social Workers
(CCETSW), the body governing social work programmes at that time
(CCETSW, 1992). That guidance failed to have any impact. Sadly, the profession
has again missed a trick regarding the obvious ‘elephant in the room’.
Against that backdrop, Tony White’s contribution to the growing canon of
work on this subject is an interesting, if rather puzzling, addition to the literature.
In fairness, social work does not get a mention—nor indeed should it.
The book is aimed at drug counsellors and in particular those counsellors
who have an interest in the theory, developed by Eric Berne, of transactional
analysis (TA). Arguably, the book is better described as an introduction to TA
which uses drug and alcohol use as case studies to explore interpersonal relationships
mapped to three ego-states of the individuals involved in TA: the
Parent, Adult and Child states.
Viewed as such a text, it is a much stronger book and the (seemingly) rather
odd inclusion or order of things makes sense—the solitary chapter on teenage
drug users, for example, sits perfectly within the author’s logic. Approaching
the book on second reading with this mindset opened up the text to a much
more interpretative understanding, which was refreshing.
The book is peppered with some illustrative diagrams (those of you familiar
with TA will recognise these) and the occasional case study, which I know students
will appreciate. Those of you familiar with the issues surrounding this
topic will find little here but the basics—however, skip the first three chapters
and you will be rewarded with an unusual and engaging account of the use of
TA in this field.
Tony White is a registered psychologist in private practice in Perth, Australia. He is also a teacher and supervisor of Transactional Analysis psychotherapists.