Substance misuse outreach worker

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Substance misuse outreach workers encourage people to get help from local support services, and advise them on minimising risks to health.

Salary range: £20,000 to £35,000

How to become a substance misuse outreach worker

You can get into this job through:

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


There are part-time college courses which will give you an understanding of some of the issues. These include:

  • Level 1 or level 2 Award in Substance Misuse Awareness
  • Level 3 Certificate in Tackling Substance Misuse

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for this route.

More information


You can get into this role through an adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements but it may help you to get in if you have:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

Volunteering and experience

Volunteering with an organisation like a drug, alcohol or housing charity is a good way to build skills and experience, and is often a way into paid work.

You can find contacts for local substance misuse organisations from online services like Frank where you can search by postcode or town.

Direct application

You could apply directly to employers, if you’ve got relevant skills and knowledge. You’ll need a good understanding of the issues facing people with substance misuse problems.

Experience in criminal justice, social care, youth work or counselling may give you an advantage when looking for paid work.

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.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a substance misuse outreach worker from Alcohol Change UK and Addaction.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • customer service skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties with clients may include:

  • gaining their trust so they agree to let you help them
  • finding out about their situation and needs
  • giving face-to-face advice about health protection
  • talking about their options for support
  • finding and agreeing the best services to help them
  • helping them to get access to services like housing or benefits advice
  • going to appointments with them and giving help with forms
  • working with their families to give wider practical and emotional support
  • writing reports and recording information so that other professionals can help

Working environment

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

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a senior recovery worker in charge of a team, volunteer co-ordinator or project team leader.

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

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