Substance misuse outreach worker

Substance misuse outreach workers encourage people to seek help from local support services, and advise them how to minimise risks to their health.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £35,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40

Future employment

There will be 5% more Substance misuse outreach worker jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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

Other duties may include:

  • building relationships with community organisations like tenants' groups
  • giving talks to increase understanding and gain support
  • going with police patrols around pubs and clubs
  • helping with needle exchange services
  • running workshops in schools and youth centres


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

There are no set entry requirements for this route.


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

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

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

Other Routes

There are no set requirements but you’ll need a good understanding of the issues facing people with substance misuse problems. Volunteering for an organisation like a drug, alcohol or housing charity is a good way to gain experience. You can search for them on Frank.

You’ll need English and maths GCSEs or equivalent for some jobs. Others may only be open to qualified nurses, counsellors or youth workers.

If you’ve personal experience of addiction or dependency you could also apply, as applications are usually welcome from people who have successfully come through treatment.

You could take a college course to gain an understanding of some of the issues.

You’ll also need to pass an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

The Federation of Drug & Alcohol Professionals (FDAP), DrugWise and Alcohol Concern have more information about working in this field.

£20,000 to £35,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £22,000

Experienced salary: £23,000 to £33,000

These figures are a guide.

35 to 40

Your hours may be irregular and unsocial, and you may be on-call. In a full-time post you’ll work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Part-time paid and voluntary work is widely available.

You may be based in one place, like at a charity's drop-in centre, but you'll also travel around the community to work with clients and give talks. 

A driving licence and car would be useful, especially if working late.

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

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

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need to be able to:

  • manage behaviour and set limits while keeping trust
  • communicate with people from many different backgrounds
  • work closely with a range of organisations
  • respect private information while keeping people safe
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
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