Social workers are change agents

Social workers are change agents.

I’m trying to study for my Sociology course and I need some help to understand this question.

Social workers are change agents. According to our Vision statement, “University of New England SSW envisions a world where social workers are at the forefront of advocating with individuals and communities for human dignity and social inclusion by mobilizing efforts to end inequities, exploitation, and violence. As a social worker, what do you believe to be the greatest social determinants of health outcomes for individuals, families and communities with substance use disorders?

Why should social workers be concerned with epidemiology and etiology? How do these inform social work? What kind of individual, community and/or society level interventions can you imagine that would improve the situation? Where do you think social workers can intervene in order to have the greatest impact?

400 words. APA format


The Etiology and Epidemiology of Addiction


estimated impact of social determinants of health pie chart

Epidemiology is the study (scientific, systematic, and data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (neighborhood, school, city, state, country, global). (Source: Principles of Epidemiology (3rd ed.), Center for Disease Control).

Epidemiologic information is important in social work as it provides us with a lens to understand possible determinants of health and risk factors that may be traced to social exclusion. These studies also provide vital data to be utilized for advocacy at the community, state or national level to improve access to services, develop effective primary prevention, as well as address public policy regarding substance use disorders.

Etiology is a branch of medical science specifically concerned with the underlying cause or origin of disease. Social workers must be concerned with both the extent and risk factors of a social or medical issue as well as the underlying cause(s). Most people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. It is often assumed that substance abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, substance use disorder is a complex disease. Getting sober takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs and alcohol change the brain in ways that foster compulsive substance abuse and quitting, even for those who are ready to do so, can be quite difficult. Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs and alcohol work in the brain than ever. We also know that addiction can be successfully treated.


Social workers are change agents

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