Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

SUBSTANCE MISUSE and CAREER DEVELOPMENT Exploring the Intersection of Substance Use Disorder and Career Concepts

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

SUBSTANCE MISUSE and CAREER DEVELOPMENT Exploring the Intersection of Substance Use Disorder and Career Concepts

Article excerpt

Substance abuse and public policy researchers have endorsed the use of vocational services as part of the recovery process (Bauld, Templeton, Silver, McKell, Novak, & Hay, 2013; Meara, 2006; West, 2008; Wong & Silverman, 2007). Several benefits have been cited including increased earnings and reduced dependence on welfare (Meara, 2006), obtaining employment and maintaining abstinence (West, 2008), and increased job skills and job readiness (Wong and Silverman, 2007). Despite these benefits, few substance abuse treatment facilities are providing vocational rehabilitation services (West, 2008). Professional literature pertaining to substance use and career development was reviewed to address the questions:

* To what extent does substance use disorder impact career development?

* What treatment interventions are effective in the career development process for individuals struggling with substance use disorder?

Results of this review and implications for practitioners are presented, as well as cautions for working with this population and opportunities for further research.

Scope of Substance Use

Substance misuse is a growing concern and complex issue both globally and nationally. The World Health Organization (WHO; 2015) reports that 3.3 million deaths occur each year due to harmful alcohol use, and 15.3 million people globally have a substance use disorder (SUD). According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA; 2014), rates of SUD are decreasing for some populations in the U.S., but not all. For example, binge alcohol use, alcohol dependence, and alcohol abuse decreased significantly between 2009 and 2013 for adolescents and young adults, yet the decrease was not significant for those over the age of 25. Despite their decreases in alcohol use, young adults (ages 18-25) use illegal drugs at more than double the rate of other age groups. Illegal drug use among adolescents (≤ 17) decreased from 2009 to 2013; however the decreases were not statistically significant for black adolescents. There is growing emphasis on SUD treatment, and the number of people in substance abuse treatment has grown significantly from 2009 to 2013. In 2013, adolescents received alcohol abuse treatment at a higher rate than any other age group, while adults received treatment for illicit drugs at a higher rate than other populations (SAMSHA, 2014). Despite reductions in use and increases in treatment, the impact of substance use continues to be examined across professions.

Understanding Substance Use Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Health Disorders recently changed the classification of Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders in the transition from the DSM-IV to the DSM-5. The DSM-5 classification involves substance-use disorders (SUD) and substanceinduced disorders (APA, 2013). SUDs are now classified from mild to severe and are organized by the substances outlined in the DSM (e.g. alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, etc.) (APA, 2013). It is worth emphasizing that substance use disorders are classified as clinical mental health disorders. Classification of alcoholism as a mental health disorder has been in place for over 30 years since the DSM III in 1980 (Hasin, 2003). Despite the stigma and stereotyping that often surrounds SUD (Bauld, et al, 2013), practitioners have the responsibility to recognize that individuals with SUD have a classified mental health disorder. As with individuals with any other mental health disorder, these clients are deserving of a fully-functioning life, including career wellness. Career practitioners play an important role in helping these clients achieve their career goals, and overcome career barriers, which may include substance misuse.

Employment as a Measure of Career Development

Many practitioners would agree that, while employment may be part of career development, it does not encapsulate the process. …

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