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Drug and alcohol worker

Alternative titles for this job include Recovery worker

Drug and alcohol workers help people tackle their drug, alcohol or substance misuse problems.

Average salary (a year)

£17,000 Starter


£30,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

30 to 37 a week

You could work

on call at short notice

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How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a drug and alcohol worker

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • volunteering
  • applying directly


There are part-time college courses which will give you an understanding of some of the issues. These include:

  • Level 1 or Level 2 Award in Substance Misuse Awareness
  • Level 3 Certificate in Tackling Substance Misuse

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

More Information


You could start out by completing an adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship then move into support work.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More Information


You can be a support worker with few qualifications, as long as you have enough relevant experience and the qualities employers are looking for.


This is a job where volunteering is highly valued and can lead to paid work. You can find volunteering opportunities by contacting local substance misuse organisations listed on Frank.

Do It has more information on general volunteering opportunities in your area.

Direct Application

You could apply directly to become a drug and alcohol worker. There are no formal entry requirements. You could have an advantage if you've got personal experience of addiction or dependency.

You may also come into this work from a variety of backgrounds, like nursing, criminal justice, social care, youth work or counselling. For example, you may have dealt with drug or alcohol-dependent patients as a nurse, or worked in the probation service, supporting offenders after their release.

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a drug and alcohol worker from Turning Point.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • customer service skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You could do:

  • outreach work - visit substance users and help with immediate needs
  • drop-in centre work - talk to clients about their needs and find ways of supporting them towards recovery
  • counselling and rehabilitation - give support and deal with the causes of substance misuse
  • arrest referral work - support clients arrested for drug-related offences
  • education and training - help clients access services
  • healthcare - work as a specialist nurse in an addiction clinic
  • needle exchange - provide clean sharps and give advice on how to use substances safely

Working environment

You could work at a health centre, at a school, in the community, in a prison or at an outreach centre.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a volunteer coordinator, project team leader or service manager.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Adult Care Worker - Alexandra Road, Blackpool

  • Wage: £15,600.00 Annually
  • Location:

Apprentice Care and Support Worker

  • Wage: £156.00 Weekly
  • Location: Wellbeck

Courses In England

CPCAB Understanding Substance Misuse Award

  • Start date: 10 January 2022
  • Location: Birkenhead

Level 3 Certificate in Understanding Substance Misuse

  • Start date: 06 June 2023
  • Location: Accrington

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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