Dr. Timothy Conley, clinical assistant professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and Michael Serrano, adjunct instructor and Wurzweiler Ph.D. students, have co-authored “The role of social work and peer support workers in addressing the opioid crisis” for Social Work in Mental Health (June 2, 2021).

Here is the abstract:

Peer-led interventions to address the opioid crisis are on the rise. This brief report discusses the historical and contemporary social work role and Peer Support Workers (PSWs) by exploring the literature. The authors illuminate the lack of social work addiction training within higher education, highlighting practical strategies that social workers can use as interventions. Moreover, the work explores social work’s role in maximizing the PSW workforce to address Hispanic and Black communities most impacted by opioid overdoses. Combining PSWs with clinical social worker’s roles will enhance recovery while addressing vital psychosocial issues.

The authors conclude that “the beneficial role that PSWs can play in addressing SUD treatment and opioid overdose is evident, primarily when PSWs work in tandem with social workers. Maximizing staff diversity of PSWs and social workers in minority-serving agencies enhances the provision of services offered. Social work can play a critical role in elevating the PSW workforce within agencies. Social work should continue to address racial and health disparities through advocating and enhancing social justice values. Peer support, combined with social work’s psychotherapeutic interventions to address psychosocial issues, will be vital in alleviating the opioid epidemic in the United States.”

Read the full article.

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