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Substance Use in Social Work

9 core (required) credit hours  


  • Identify the types of substance and medications that are misused or abused which can lead to dependency and/or addiction.
  • Understand the effects of substance abuse on brain functioning.
  • Diagnose use, abuse, dependence and recognize the appropriate level of care to begin treatment.
  • Identify co-occurring mental health and/or health issues and when and how to coordinate treatments using a multi-disciplinary approach.
  • Identify, implement and evaluate evidence-based treatment modalities.
  • Identify strategies for prevention.
  • Identify developmental issues, human behavior and diversity in the social environment for individuals with substance use disorders, to include the impact on individuals, family and groups.
  • Learn a conceptual framework for dealing with substance use treatment as it incorporates issues of special risk populations, cognitive impairment, supervision, recovery management, and continuing care (including relapse triggers).
  • Practice within the values and ethics that apply to both the standards of treatment of substance use disorders and social work practice.

Core Courses

Fall Semester

Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
SW6220 Diversity and Social Justice: Reflexive and Ethical Social Work Practice II 3.0
SW6740 Substance Use Disorders Practice I: Evidence-based Principles and Therapeutic Alliance 3.0
SW6741 The Use and Misuse of Psychoactive Medications and their Effects 3.0
SW6521 Advanced Field Practicum I  4.0


Spring Semester

Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
SW6745 Substance Use Disorders Practice II: Assessment, Motivators, & Therapy Models 3.0
SW6522 Advanced Field Practicum II 4.0



  • All students must take one practice class outside their Area of Focus as an elective.
  • Students may take up to 16 credit hours in any one semester, without requiring pre-approval from the MSW Program Director.
  • Students in the Advanced Standing program must complete a minimum of 45 credit hours.
  • Students in the 2-Year Program must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours.
  • Students must earn a passing grade of C+ or better.
  • Students must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA in order to be in good academic standing.

Types of Practicum Placements: Inpatient, residential and outpatient mental health and health programs serving persons with substance abuse, including adult and juvenile justice facilities

Last Updated: 11/12/21