UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Drug addiction : the role of social work in its recognition and treatment Tobin, Joseph


For social workers, the entire problem of drug addiction is a challenge. On the one hand, it is widespread and threatening; on the other, it is dealt with much ineptness and prejudice. Because addiction involves individuals, and because-problems of an emotional nature either cause or intensify the addiction, the social work profession can—or should—play a leading part in it's treatment and prevention. The thesis strives to show the addict as an individual, what his problems are, and how he can be aided by caseworkers, as well as by psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. In particular, it strives to clarify the social worker's role in a therapeutic approach. Data for the study came from many sources: from texts and reports made by various authorities in the field, particularly, studies made at the Lexington narcotics farm. Personal visits were made to prisons, clinics, and hospitals handling addicts, and discussions were held with doctors engaged in this work. Correspondence was carried on with people in various regions who are in a position to study the problem at first hand. And finally, interviews were held with many addicts, both treated and untreated. Final impressions rendered are a product drawn and based on the composite findings. The plan of the thesis is to review first the available information on the general incidence of addiction; then to focus what is known of the typical addict as a person, individually and socially. Treatment plans—current, discarded, and untried—are then discussed; and the final chapter attempts to describe the work that caseworkers can perform with treatable addicts. The conclusion of the thesis is that present methods can be improved considerably, with the help of social workers among others, for work with treatable addicts, and that the number of "cured" addicts can be raised by such improvement. At the same time, the "untreatability" of many addicts has been examined, with the conclusion that a very large group of addicts cannot at present expect any real psychiatric help. Virtually no written material exists on the subject of casework with the treatable addicts, and it is hoped that this study points the way to such a development.

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