Substance Misuse Outreach Worker

Job Description:

Substance misuse outreach workers advise people with drug or alcohol problems and encourage them to get help from local support services.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

In this role you might work with individuals or groups to:

  • find out what the situation is and support people to manage their own recovery
  • help choose the best services for support
  • help people access services like housing or benefits advice
  • help people get to appointments or fill out forms
  • give practical and emotional support to families
  • write reports and keep confidential records


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • counselling skills including active listening
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • customer service skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • non-judgemental approach
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (adaptability skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

There are no specific subjects required to become a Substance Misuse Outreach Worker. However, pursuing certain subjects can be beneficial in developing the skills and knowledge necessary for this career. Substance Misuse Outreach Workers provide support and assistance to individuals struggling with substance abuse issues.

While specific subjects are not mandatory, here are some subjects and skills that can be helpful:

  1. English Language: Effective communication skills, including written and verbal communication, are essential for working with individuals facing substance misuse issues and documenting interactions.
  2. Psychology (optional): Understanding psychological principles can be relevant when addressing the emotional and behavioural aspects of addiction and recovery.
  3. Sociology (optional): Courses in sociology can provide insights into the social and cultural factors that contribute to substance misuse and addiction.
  4. Health and Social Care (optional): Studying health and social care subjects can provide a foundational understanding of the healthcare system and the needs of individuals seeking treatment.
  5. Biology (optional): Knowledge of basic biology can be useful in understanding the physiological effects of substance abuse on the body.
  6. Mathematics (optional): Basic mathematical skills can be helpful for tasks such as managing caseloads or budgets in outreach programs.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering
  • applying directly

You could do a part time college course to give you an understanding of substance misuse.

You could do a level 1 or 2 award in substance misuse awareness or a level 3 certificate in tackling substance misuse.

You could do a peer worker advanced apprenticeship or an early intervention practitioner higher apprenticeship.

You could also do an adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship to get some of the skills and knowledge you need to become a substance misuse outreach worker.

You could volunteer with a drug, alcohol or housing charity to build skills and get work experience.

You could also volunteer with a substance misuse organisation.

Direct Application
You could apply directly to an employer.

You’ll need a good understanding of the issues people with substance misuse problems might face. You might also need experience in criminal justice, social care, youth work or counselling.

You could also apply if you have personal experience of addiction or dependency. Applications are usually welcome from people who have successfully come through treatment.

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you could work 37 to 39 hours a week.

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

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could become a senior recover worker, volunteer co-ordinator or project team leader.

You could also specialise in working with a particular group like young people.