Case Studies

Jennifer’s brother Emmett resorted to drugs and alcohol to drown his sorrow after their dad left their mother. The local inner-city high school had its share of dealers and Emmett’s will power was nil. While weed (cannabis, marijuana, and pot) was Emmett’s initial drug of choice, his substance use later led him to having a heroin addiction. Now out of the closet as a gay man, Emmett also was introduced to the club/party drugs of ecstasy and crystal meth. It breaks Jennifer’s and her mom’s heart to watch Emmett maintain his addiction despite some brief stints in drug rehab and attendance at local AA meetings. Emmett’s sponsor uses tough love--a mix of encouragement and challenge--to help Emmett stay on his path to and through recovery.

  1. What local, state, and national policy and practice resources exist for social workers who work with people who use substances?
  2. With the help of a social worker, how might family members intervene to help Emmett recover and maintain his sobriety? How might they benefit personally from social work services as well?
  3. How much stigma encircles people who succumb to substance use or addiction?
  4. What specific challenges might need to be addressed in treatment in order for Emmett to truly achieve a high functioning level?