Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Lance T. Peterson


Social Work


Prior research suggests that inadequate substance abuse education in social work programs contributes to misdiagnosis, bias, and produces students who are unprepared to work with substance abuse. This study assessed for the presence of substance abuse education in Minnesota MSW programs’ core curriculum. Using 19 educational objectives based on Minnesota statute for Alcohol and Drug Counseling licensure, this study sought to determine if current graduates are adequately prepared to work with substance abusing and dependent people and their families. Five of six MSW programs were assessed. This study found that only 4 of 19 objectives were met by all schools, while 7 of 19 objectives did not appear in any of the schools syllabi. The majority of schools do not appear to be teaching assessment, crisis intervention, family systems dynamics, cultural implications, or even a basic overview related to substance abuse. Implications for social work education include mandatory integration of these 5 objectives into MSW programs. These objectives are exclusive to substance abuse practice and are not easily applied without specific education. Teaching these objectives would offer a baseline understanding of the complex nature of substance abuse and benefit all Master’s level social workers regardless of specialty.

Included in

Social Work Commons