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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Evidence-Based Social Work Practice with Mentally Ill Persons Who Abuse Alcohol and Other Drugs
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The current article outlines a comprehensive approach to evidence-based social work practice, and applies it to persons with severe and persistent mental illness who also abuse alcohol and other drugs. Representative empirical literature is summarized within a framework that delineates the three major functions of evidence-based social work practice: assessment, intervention and evaluation. Assessment protocol, which incorporates the use of valid scales to complement the qualitative interview, is based on domain-specific research that outlines relevant psychosocial risk factors, and highlights those that are amenable to change. Intervention strategies are derived from the growing body of controlled research findings, but flexibility in implementation is recommended to accommodate clients' individual needs and the vagaries of daily practice. Naturalistic evaluation methods are used to capitalize on the use of brief, valid process and outcome measures to augment individual qualitative evaluation and to aggregate data for program evaluation. The implications of this integrated evidence-based strategy for social work practice are discussed. (Author)