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Wulf leads pack with book on education and substance use

June 3 2015


A Glyndŵr University lecturer was chosen to edit a crucial new book on social work and the impact of substance use in society.

Dr Wulf Livingston spearheaded the publication of the research collection Substance Use in Social Work Education and Training: Preparing for and supporting practice with Hilda Loughran from University College Dublin.

The book is a collation of articles submitted for a special edition of Social Work Education: The International Journal.

Having worked in the social work arena for almost 25 years, Dr Livingston says the understanding about alcohol and other drug (AOD) use have moved from an “individualistic to a societal problem”, becoming widespread across the UK and beyond.

Among the main contributors to the book was Professor Sarah Galvani, a respected academic and leading light in the sector.

Dr Livingston was honoured to be asked to helm the project – particularly as he was still technically a PhD student when approached two years ago – and is proud of the finished article.

“We have some of the leading writers on this topic involved, particularly Sarah, so it was a fascinating challenge to take on,” he said.

“Sarah suggested a special edition to the journal board but because she was such a principal contributor they needed external editors, so in 2013 they approached Hilda and me and we were delighted to say yes.

“We went through a dual process of commissioning work directly from Sarah and her colleagues and putting out an external call for papers, before fusing it all together.

“There were 25-30 expressions of interest and we received 20 articles, which through the peer review process became 13. The majority of these formed the special edition and then this book became the culmination of all the articles published across several issues – we have thus, through the book, brought all of the material into one place.”

Dr Livingston who also contributed a chapter and described how the book looks at specific client groups, from the US student population and elderly people to groups with learning difficulties.

The overall focus is on social work education and how it continues to struggle with providing an appropriate and coherent framework for providing knowledge and skills for working with alcohol and other drugs. 

The need for such input is supported by ample evidence that social workers in the field are encountering increasing numbers of service users and their families who are experiencing difficulties with AOD problems, if not as the primary reason for referral then often as a related difficulty.

“As an editor I am very proud of what we’ve collated here,” said Dr Livingston.

“We are left with a very robust evidence-based collection of research covering what is an incredibly important conversation for those of us in social work practice.”

He added: “The book echoes the big themes around this issue; that alcohol and other drug use are becoming a bigger part of social work practice and we need to find smarter and more intelligent ways of responding to that through the training and education of social workers

“I’ve seen many changes – from it being a fairly individualistic problem to a societal problem – but it is an exciting issue and a coup to have Glyndŵr University involved in such a highly important collection of research.”

Substance Use in Social Work Education and Training: Preparing for and supporting practice will be published in September and is available to pre-order now from Waterstone’s online at

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