Drug and alcohol worker

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

Average salary (a year)

£17,000 Starter


£40,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

30 to 32 a week

You could work

on call at short notice

How to become a Drug and alcohol worker

You can get into this job through:

  • volunteering
  • applying directly

Volunteering and experience

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 give you an advantage if you've got personal experience of addiction or dependency.

You may 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, dealing with offenders after their release.

More information

Career tips

You can enter this profession as a support worker with few qualifications, providing you have enough experience. There are some introductory courses in substance misuse which may be available at local colleges.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a drug and alcohol worker from:

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‚Äôs reactions
  • Being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • outreach work - visiting substance users and helping with immediate needs
  • drop-in centre work - talking to clients about their needs and finding ways of supporting them towards recovery
  • counselling and rehabilitation - giving support and dealing with the causes of substance misuse
  • arrest referral work - supporting clients arrested for drug-related offences
  • education and training - helping clients access services
  • healthcare - working as a specialist nurse in an addiction clinic
  • needle exchange - providing clean sharps and giving advice on how to use substances safely 

Working environment

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

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

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

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Personal Care Assistant Apprentice

  • Wage : £128.00 Weekly
  • Location: North Shields NE29 6QP

Apprentice Care Assistant

  • Wage : To be agreed upon appointment
  • Location: Hereford HR1 1LH

Courses In England

Psychology of Addiction

  • Start date: 07 January 2019
  • Location: Cheadle Hulme

Psychology of Addiction

  • Start date: 08 January 2019
  • Location: Manchester

Get help using this service

Call 08000 150 950

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

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